Morning Five: 07.18.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 18th, 2013

morning5

  1. On Wednesday ESPN finished its two-day unveiling of brackets for the 11 holiday season events that it more or less controls through its television rights, and the possibilities, as usual, are endless. For a comprehensive listing of those events along with the top storylines as they stand right now in the middle of July, here’s the thread. Be sure to remember that Jeff Goodman picked Boise State over Oregon State in the Diamond Head Classic so that you can mock him on Twitter in late December… but seriously, does anyone else find it more than a little odd that these brackets are released during the time of year when you couldn’t find more people who care less? Why not make this a part of the Midnight Madness/ESPN festivities in October — you know, when fans are actually paying attention to college basketball again. For what it’s worth, Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger and Andy Glockner at SI.com have pretty good rundowns of the events if ESPN.com’s marketing campaign isn’t to your liking. From our perspective, here’s what you need to know: North Carolina vs. Louisville (Hall of Fame Tip-off) and Arizona vs. Duke (Preseason NIT). Done.
  2. While we’re on the subject of ESPN, the post-MLB All-Star Game hole in the calendar provides us with our annual opportunity to over-dramatize the strange mixture of sports and celebrity at the ESPYs. College basketball was once again well-represented, with two major awards among the few nominees. Louisville’s Rick Pitino received the ESPY for top coach/manager of the year, while everybody’s favorite underdog, Florida Gulf Coast, won the ESPY for the best upset of the year (over Georgetown). The full list is here, but the only other college basketball nominee was Trey Burke for best male college athlete (won by Johnny Manziel). Still, we’re more than willing to take a smidgen of credit for the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, given this year to former Sportscenter anchor and Dickie V/Midnight Madness sidekick, Robin Roberts.
  3. We mentioned Seth Davis’ piece on Michigan’s Mitch McGary in yesterday’s M5, and clearly university brass must have also read about his head coach John Beilein‘s prescience in keeping the burly freshman on the bench as a secret postseason weapon last year. Why do we say this? Because on Wednesday Michigan rewarded the 60-year old coach with a three-year extension that will bump his salary up to $2.45 million per year, ninth-highest in the nation. The sometimes-irascible but always competent Beilein has come a long way in his itinerant career, but with another top 10 squad pending in Ann Arbor and a growing NBA pipeline to entice recruits, we’re thinking that he not only deserves the raise, but is well worth it.
  4. The Pac-12 under Larry Scott’s leadership in the last few seasons has certainly been innovative in its approach to its branding and reach, and yesterday’s CBSSports.com report that the league recently sent a letter to the NCAA challenging the admission of Division II Grand Valley (AZ) State to play D-I basketball is certainly interesting. On one hand, why does the Pac-12 care about a low-budget for-profit school with some 40,000 to 45,000 online students? On the other, the business model and corresponding accountability for a school answering to public shareholders on financial matters is in fact a much different situation than that posed by a typical college or university (which are all non-profit entities in Division I). It’ll be interesting to see how the NCAA responds to this, and whether other leagues and/or universities get involved. Grand Valley has already begun transition to Division I, entering the WAC as a basketball school and becoming eligible for the NCAA Tournament in 2017-18.
  5. Some transfer/eligibility news from yesterday to finish off today’s M5. Former Kentucky problem child Ryan Harrow has received a transfer waiver from the NCAA to play at Georgia State next season. This move will allow him to remain near his ailing father, who suffered a stroke last year while Harrow was at Kentucky, averaging 10 PPG and shooting 29.6 percent from beyond the arc. By the same token, Minnesota’s Malik Smith, a senior guard who averaged 14/3 APG last season at FIU under Richard Pitino, also received a waiver to play immediately at his new school. The NCAA approved his waiver to follow his coach in part because FIU is not eligible for the 2014 NCAA Tournament (APR violations). This will be Smith’s fourth school in four seasons.
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Morning Five: 06.20.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 20th, 2012

  1. There are many coaching hires where the logical process makes normal and complete sense to everyone – a longtime assistant is promoted to the top job; a big personality moves on to a school to match his ego; a mid-major guy is looking for more resources and talent. Occasionally, though, a random hire has everyone around the industry scratching his head wondering what they missed. It’s not very often that you’ll see a career assistant coach — mostly at the collegiate level, at that — make the jump to NBA head coach, but that’s exactly what St. John’s assistant Mike Dunlap did this week. Other than a handful of games when head coach Steve Lavin was out with prostate cancer last season, Dunlap has spent the last six seasons as an assistant, and the extent of his head coaching experience came at Division II Metro State from 1997-2006. Dunlap reportedly beat out more prominent names such as Jerry Sloan, Brian Shaw, and Quin Snyder for the position, and although according to Jeff Goodman everyone knows he can coach, this is a real gamble on the part of the GOAT as part owner of the Charlotte Bobcats.
  2. If a player only sets foot on your campus for the better part of eight months, is it OK for an alumnus to claim that star as one of his own? That’s the question posed by Grantland’s Bryan Curtis as a Longhorn considering the provenance of one Kevin Durant, one of the NBA’s brightest stars but a player who probably wasn’t around Austin long enough to even witness the bats on Congress Avenue Bridge. Curtis ultimately settles on the answer “yes,” – shocking, we know – but he actually digs up some thoughtful and relevant examples of other prominent Texas grads who were early entries into the work force well before it was fashionable. A couple of those names? Walter Cronkite and Michael Dell.
  3. Stop the presses, but Fab Melo has decided to speak about his suspensions last season at Syracuse. If you recall, the Big East DPOY was suspended twice during the season, including a devastating NCAA Tournament suspension that essentially killed the Orange’s realistic chances at a national title. The reason: (drum roll) academics. Melo is touring around the country in an effort to improve his draft stock, and he decided to talk about his time away from Jim Boeheim’s team during his sophomore year this week. To wit, “They ask, I explain (what) happened — that I came from another country and until four years ago didn’t even speak English.” This is all fine and well, but if we were an NBA scout, we might be willing to look past one indiscretion — but dropping the ball during the most important month of his collegiate career is an altogether different story. Did he forget how to stay eligible between the first part of his sophomore year and his second? Or did he realize he was going to be a millionaire soon and decided to stop caring about classes? That’s the question that should be asked — whether the answer is relevant to his future prospects as a ball player isn’t for us to decide.
  4. With all the bad blood surrounding conference realignment, we’re actually surprised that we haven’t seen what the CAA has decided to do more often. The league announced on Tuesday that departing members Old Dominion and Georgia State – both of which will remain in the league in 2012-13 – will not be eligible to compete for conference championships next year. The CAA’s Council of Presidents voted unanimously to uphold a longstanding rule meant to dissuade schools from jumping ship. VCU, which will join the Atlantic 10 next month, will obviously not be impacted, but this goes to show that conference realignment at its core is something of a bloodsport, and memories of such influential people at the highest levels tend to not easily erase.
  5. We sorta love it when in-state rivalries are exacerbated through the local media, and NC State is only the latest and greatest to use the old standbys — billboards and television ads — to make declarations of grandeur based on nothing more than marketing, spit, and perhaps a little duct tape. Whether you measure it by success or fans, there’s virtually no possible way to justify an assertion that the great state of North Carolina belongs to NC State, but hey, whatever gets the juices running (and it’s still funny). Of course, even if NC State has won the last 10,000 football games against UNC, Duke, and Wake Forest combined, that’s still not what matters in the Tar Heel State any more than Auburn beating Alabama in basketball matters a lick. Kudos to NC State for giving it a shot, but nobody is fooled.
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Morning Five: 05.31.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 31st, 2011

  1. The biggest news involving college sports on Monday was the resignation of Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel after ten very successful seasons amidst swirling allegations of misconduct involving at least 28 of his players trading memorabilia for tattoos, marijuana and cash (as reported by SI).  Normally this sort of thing wouldn’t involve this site unless the allegations leaked over to the basketball program, but speculation on Twitter and around the web about whether Tressel may face a show-cause penalty set off a mini-firestorm among several going back and forth over Kentucky’s John Calipari as a basketball equivalent (Searching for Billy Edelin noted several others here).  Calipari himself added a little fuel to the fire with his tweet on Monday night needling “the triumvirate and compadres” for their “radio silence” with respect to positive stories surrounding the Kentucky program, one of which was Brett McMurphy’s piece Monday on Cal’s association with Dick Vitale’s Jimmy V gala recently and his general philanthropy.  Remember the mantra when it comes to Calipari: loved, hated but never ignored.
  2. After quite a few names thrown around in recent days (including the itinerant Larry Brown of all people), Penn State appears closer to making a hire to replace abruptly-departed Ed DeChellis.  Andy Katz reported on Monday that three names were likely candidates — Duquesne’s Ron Everhart, Boston University’s Pat Chambers, and Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Rob Jeter — with Everhart confirmed as interviewing at PSU on Tuesday.  Frankly, Penn State fans would likely be thrilled with any of those three, as each has shown a proven capability of success at the mid-major level, but recruiting a winner to a basketball wasteland with a low (for Big Ten standards) salary will require a rather compelling pitch from AD Tim Curley.
  3. Welcome to next year.  One of the first jobs that new Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin has in front of him is to face the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions in two weeks to answer for allegations that occurred under the previous guy’s direction (a jocular dude named Bruce Pearl; remember him?).  The Vols don’t expect that any probation ultimately coming their way will involve a postseason ban, but they expect to at least lose a scholarship for a year or two and have some restrictions placed on his recruiting.  We’re not sure exactly what Martin will be asked to say at this hearing other than “yes, sir” and “no, sir,” but we’re quite certain that he’ll be hoping all the while that his appearance at this sort of thing in Indianapolis will be his last.
  4. Mike DeCourcy writes about the five teams that he believes have a pretty good shot at ending NCAA Tournament droughts next season.  We won’t spoil the surprise other than to say that Ivy League fans based in Cambridge are not going to be happy with their exclusion from this list — 66 years!  Truthfully, though, his five are eminently reasonable, although choosing Northwestern to come through is probably just as dubious as referencing John Harvard’s school on any kind of such list.
  5. An elite Class of 2012 guard named RJ Hunter from Indianapolis recently committed to Georgia State over notable BCS-level schools Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and Iowa.  Um, why would a player receiving offers from those schools commit to Georgia State?  Turns out that the school had a bit of an advantage in his recruiting process — his father, Ron Hunter, recently took the head coaching job at GSU in Atlanta after nearly two decades at IUPUI.  RJ said that Bryce Drew’s experience playing for his dad, Homer, at Valparaiso had an influence on his decision, and we’ve seen in recent years as Ray McCallum, Jr., and Trey Ziegler both had successful freshman seasons playing for their old men at mid-majors Detroit and Central Michigan, respectively, last year.  Good for him.
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CAA Tournament Preview

Posted by rtmsf on March 4th, 2010

Ryan Restivo of SienaSaintsBlog is the RTC correspondent for the CAA and an occasional contributor.

There is a lot at stake for what appears to be a one-bid league. BracketBusters did not help (3-9) and the CAA could not capitalize on TV games, winning just one of five. William & Mary used the non-conference slate, winning at Wake Forest and Maryland, to boost their chances as an at-large. Old Dominion won at Georgetown and crushed Charlotte as home to boost their at-large chances early. Northeastern and George Mason are likely to reach other postseason tournaments but have a good chance at making a run at the CAA automatic bid. Ken Pomeroy’s tournament odds give Old Dominion a 45.7% chance, followed by #5 seed VCU (24.4%).  No team has ever won four games in four days to win the conference tournament in CAA history. If you are within the viewing area or able to watch on Sunday, the CAA semifinals of this tournament guarantee to be a great spectacle. However before eleven teams’ hopes are dashed Monday night, the themes that bring these teams together will dominate the tournament talk.

#1 Old Dominion would have to be considered the favorite. They are second in the CAA in offensive efficiency and first in defensive efficiency and have won five of their last six, their only loss in that span at Northern Iowa in the BracketBusters. Gerald Lee has been the focal point of their late season streak, shooting 54% from the field in the last six games. However, they will have a lot tougher path to the championship than ever because of a potential re-match with Virginia Commonwealth. The Monarchs escaped last Saturday with a three-point win at home and were beaten by VCU by 12 on the road earlier in February. There’s a chance the Monarchs’ semifinal game will be their toughest yet.

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Checking in on… the Colonial

Posted by rtmsf on February 23rd, 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 2/22)

  1. Northeastern (18-10, 13-3)
  2. Old Dominion (21-8, 13-3)
  3. George Mason (16-12, 11-5)
  4. William & Mary (19-8, 11-5)
  5. Drexel (15-14, 10-6)
  6. VCU (19-7, 10-6)
  7. Hofstra (16-13, 8-8)
  8. Georgia State (12-17, 4-12)
  9. UNC Wilmington (8-20, 4-12)
  10. Towson (7-20, 4-12)
  11. James Madison (12-17, 4-12)
  12. Delaware (7-21, 3-13)

Did BracketBusters help the CAA? Probably not. The conference started out losing their first five games in the event, including the first two nationally televised games. Northeastern bumbled their chances trying for a three-pointer instead of getting a quick two when down three to Louisiana Tech. George Mason could not convert late, an offensive foul late ruined the Patriots chances of winning over Charleston. Towson started down 20-0 at Manhattan. The CAA went 3-9 overall in BracketBusters, and only 1-4 on the ESPN family of networks.

A Quick Look at the Bracket Today

If we were to start the CAA Basketball Championship today here is what the schedule would look like.

Friday 3/5

  • Noon – #8 Georgia State vs. #9 UNC-Wilmington
  • 2:30 - #5 Drexel vs. #12 Delaware
  • 6 – #7 Hofstra vs. #10 Towson
  • 8:30 – #6 VCU vs. #11 James Madison

Saturday 3/6

  • Noon – #1 Northeastern vs. #8/#9
  • 2:30 – #4 George Mason vs. #5/#12
  • 6 – #2 Old Dominion vs. #7/#10
  • 8:30 – #3 William & Mary vs. #6/#11

Tiebreakers

  • Northeastern’s win over Old Dominion gives them the break for the top seed. Both Northeastern and Old Dominion have clinched a first-round bye.
  • William & Mary gets a tiebreaker for the #3 seed with their win over George Mason
  • Drexel’s two wins over Northeastern give them the tiebreaker for the #5 seed over VCU
  • UNC-Wilmington gets the three team tiebreaker with a 2-1 record against the group, Towson’s 2-2 record edges James Madison’s 1-2 record against the group.
  • Hofstra has clinched the #7 seed.

Important Games This Week

Tue 2/23              

  • Hofstra at Northeastern  (9pm ESPNU).  The Pride, who have won seven of their last eight, have a chance to play spoiler to the Huskies’ chances at a regular season championship. The Pride have clinched the #7 seed and if they are swept by the Huskies, they will likely see them should they play in Saturday’s CAA Tournament Quarterfinals next week.

Wed 2/24

  • George Mason at Delaware 7pm.  Why is this game important? The last road win from the Patriots came over a month ago. Add to that their 1-3 record against the top three teams, they need a win to give them momentum going into Saturday’s game.

Sat 2/27

  • Northeastern at George Mason Noon.  The conference regular season championship will likely be decided in this, the first game of the day. The Patriots will get a chance to rebound from two tough home losses last week.

Team Reviews

Northeastern (13-3).  The Huskies made a lot of history on Tuesday night in their win over UNC Wilmington. Junior Chaisson Allen went over the 1,000 point mark, the Huskies won their first game ever at Trask Coliseum and they will have a chance this week to set a new school record for CAA conference victories. While the Huskies came back from as many down as 14 to win on the road, they squandered a home lead.  Late in this game, what seemed to be the final possession, the Huskies struggled to establish their plan. It appeared like the strategy was to play for a game-tying three, despite the fact that a quick two and fouling seemed like a good decision. However their final three-pointers could not tie the game and gave Louisiana Tech a 70-67 win. Manny Adako had a solid week for the Huskies, making 57% of his shots and scoring 36 points this week.  If the Huskies are to set the new school record for conference victories, they will clinch no worse than the #2 seed.

Old Dominion (13-3).  The Monarchs took care of business against Towson, who had just seven players dressed, but could not bring their A game on national television against Northern Iowa and lost in the first of four BracketBusters TV losses by the CAA. The Panthers exploited the second-best three-point field goal percentage defense in the conference, and 17th nationally, downing 7-12 threes in the second half on way to a nine-point win. They did not have an answer for Ali Farokhmanesh either who scored all of his 23 points in the second half and made 5-9 threes. The Monarchs’ path to the top seed will need a Northeastern slip-up and two wins in their final two games this week.

George Mason (11-5).  The Patriots went without Mike Morrison for the week and they could have used his 8 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. This gave freshman Kevin Foster a chance to play and he took advantage, putting up a career high 22 Tuesday and then racked up his first career double-double Saturday. Other than Foster’s performance, it was a difficult week to be a Patriots fan as they dropped a conference game at home to the Tribe and then had a chance to come back against College of Charleston but fell by two. Ryan Pearson’s dribble-drive and bucket to tie the game was called a charge. After a look at the replay, it appears the refs got the call right to negate the bucket. One good sign this week is that George Mason is starting to make shots, this week shooting 49% from the field. However the downfall has been free throw shooting.  They shot just 60% from the line and had a stretch Saturday of missing seven straight from the line, losing both games this week by two points. There is no doubt that the Patriots are an extremely talented group and will likely be better next year; however, if they get into any postseason play that will only help them moving forward.

William & Mary (11-5).  In a game that will probably mirror those in Richmond in March, the Tribe overcame an 11-point deficit to beat George Mason at the Patriot Center by three. The importance of this game will hold in tiebreaking since this is the only game between the two. The Tribe struggled in New Rochelle, as Iona blistered past them shooting 65% from the field in the first half. Defending the Gaels wasn’t the only problem, as the Tribe could not make contested shots either and were held to 36% from the field. A 16-point loss at Iona probably tarnishes what was an impressive tournament resume that included wins at Wake Forest, at Maryland and home wins over Northeastern, Virginia Commonwealth and Richmond. Senior David Schneider did not have an awesome week, scoring 32 points but shooting only 5-16 (31%) from three-point range.

Drexel (10-6).  Chris Fouch returned Saturday from a two-game respite to score 16 points but the Dragons turned the ball over 14 times in a 16-point loss to Bradley in the BracketBusters game. Drexel did not have an answer for Bradley’s four-guard oriented offense. This week was not a good week for the Dragons stingy defense, ranked third in the Colonial, let its opponents shoot 52% from the field. When Fouch was out junior Jamie Harris has stepped up to score 51 points over the last three games while shooting 37% from the field. Meanwhile, Virginia Commonwealth exposed the Dragons’ ability, or lack thereof, on the inside as they outrebounded Drexel by 19 and let Larry Sanders go 13-15 for 29 points. Drexel will have to fix the holes in their defense to try and salvage a bye in next weekend’s conference tournament. What they have on their side is their schedule: home against UNC Wilmington and a road game at James Madison, and two wins over first-place Northeastern.

VCU (10-6).  Junior Larry Sanders went off for 29 points against Drexel but his biggest contribution was his 13 rebounds and 5 blocks. The Rams are starting to find their offensive groove, shooting 54% from the field this week and making 11 three pointers. Sanders scored 44 points and grabbed 22 rebounds for the Rams this week in his dominant performances this week. After losing two on the road, the Rams righted the ship and won two games at home by resounding margins. VCU did not let up in the BracketBuster either. Coming out of halftime leading by 12, the Rams shot 64% in the second half and proceeded to win by 17. VCU, which ranks sixth in field goal percentage defense at 41%, held their opponents this week to 34% shooting. A home revenge game against James Madison comes up on Wednesday and then a tough road game at Old Dominion for a chance to improve their seeding. It’s unfortunate because they have played so well as of late, but their 1-3 start in conference probably cost them a chance at a bye in the CAA tournament.

Hofstra (8-8).  The Pride is quietly making their run, winning seven of their last eight games in the easier portion of their schedule. All of the wins came over the bottom half of the league. Junior Charles Jenkins has gone off, making a run at locking up a spot on the CAA first team, with 61 points this week shooting 46% from the field. Jenkins reached 100 career three pointers making him the 17th player in school history to do so. Seven of their last eight wins have been by double digits except for the overtime win Saturday against Rider. Only problem is Hofstra could not contain Broncs star Ryan Thompson who went off for a season-high 38 points on 11-23 shooting. The Pride could play spoiler to Northeastern’s chances at the regular season championship on Tuesday and then host Senior Day against Georgia State, who they still might see in the first round on Friday.

James Madison (4-12).  Denzel Bowles has been a force so far but Canisius might have found the answer to defend him in the BracketBuster game Saturday. The Golden Griffins constantly double-teamed Bowles when he touched the ball and held him to a season low 11 points. Meanwhile Frank Turner exploited the Dukes’ failure to contain the dribble-drive and went for a double-double scoring 16 points and dishing out 13 assists while handing the Dukes a four-point loss. The Dukes are 2-12 on the road and have one more chance to win a conference game on the road Wednesday at Virginia Commonwealth before their Senior Day date with Drexel. The Dukes will be good next year with Devon Moore and Andrey Semenov coming back from injuries and will have a fair shot to win 20 games.

Georgia State (4-12).  Trey Hampton drove the Panthers this week, scoring 33 points on 55% shooting, as Georgia State won two straight this past week. Another good sign? Georgia State, which ranks sixth in free throw percentage, shot 74% from the free throw line. The Panthers seized control in their BracketBuster game, notching one of the three wins for the CAA in a 15-point win over South Carolina State. Senior Joe Dukes has to get going for the Panthers to make a CAA Tournament run. He scored 25 points on Tuesday on 9-15 shooting but he has hit some cold spells against the top tier of teams in conference play. Dukes shot just 3-14 against William & Mary and Northeastern two weeks ago and has not improved on last year’s numbers except for free throw shooting, and needs to make more shots for the Panthers to advance to Quarterfinal Saturday in Richmond. We will see how he and the Panthers respond as they try for their first three-game win streak since the start of the new year against Old Dominion.

UNC Wilmington (4-12).  Senior Montez Downey got his chance and he didn’t waste it Saturday, scoring a season high 23 points but the Seahawks have lost three in a row. Ousted coach Benny Moss was at the game against Northeastern and watched the Seahawks blow a 14-point lead. Saturday, UNC Wilmington faced one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the country in Radford and let them make more free throws than the Seahawks attempted. Downey finished strong last year and, in what are likely his final two or three games in his career, will likely do the same. Junior Chad Tomko has struggled and shot just 24% last week, probably a sign of his lingering ankle injury. Junior John Fields has been hurt as well and did not travel to Radford Saturday, this was only the second game this season where Fields did not play.

Towson (4-12).  Towson dressed only seven players in their loss to Old Dominion earlier in the week, letting Kenyon Carter and Frank Hassell muscle them inside. The Monarchs almost doubled the Tigers’ points in the paint on Tuesday night. Josh Thornton, Jimmy Smith and Jarrel Smith all came back on Saturday but it didn’t help in the BracketBuster game. Manhattan jumped out to a 20-0 lead and crushed the Tigers by 16. The Tigers got handled by another frontcourt again, letting the three big men for the Jaspers combine for 44 of the team’s 78 points and grab half the team’s offensive rebounds. The only bracket the Tigers will have to worry about is the CAA bracket in March, a win over Delaware on Saturday will likely ensure they don’t finish in last place.

Delaware  (3-13).  In the same week women’s basketball star Elena Delle Donne went for 54 points for Delaware in a victory, the Men’s team let Boston University’s John Holland go for 43 points on 70% shooting. The Blue Hens have had a problem with big time scorers, as they let Holland and Hofstra star Charles Jenkins go off for a combined 73 points, nine more points than Delaware averages per game. Meanwhile head coach Monte Ross, who has gone 39-83 at Delaware, is optimistic about the roster next year with a freshman impact player in Devon Saddler, a Charlotte transfer in Shamarr Bowden and the return of point guard Brian Johnson from injury. Ross said, “I can’t express enough that, when you’re building a program, you need time. That’s why I think we’ll be able to get to where we want to get to. And it takes time. We can absolutely get there.”

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 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 Colonial

Posted by rtmsf on February 8th, 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 2/7)

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

The league had an interesting schedule change due to pending and impending snowstorms. Towson’s home game against James Madison was postponed on Thursday. UNC Wilmington pushed their game one-day against Delaware to Sunday and then to Monday after the snow fell. James Madison will travel to play Towson tonight. Meanwhile the team off to the best start in conference play, George Mason, hit an unexpected rough patch. However, should it have been expected? The young Patriot squad’s seven-game winning streak came against every sub-.500 team in conference. This strength of schedule will change soon enough with a game against heating up VCU, traveling to Old Dominion before a clash with William & Mary. With Northeastern and VCU starting to heat up, not even mentioning Drexel’s strong push, there’s still a race to the top in the CAA.

Important Games This Week

Tue 2/9               

VCU @ George Mason  (7pm ESPNU).  George Mason lost their seven-game winning streak this week. However, all but one win comes over a CAA team that’s over .500. They have won their last eight home games and this only game with VCU may prove to have tiebreaker implications.

Wed 2/10

UNC Wilmington @ Towson (7pm ESPN360.com).  You might not watch this one, but I will. I want to see how the Brooks Lee era continues as the Seahawks battle the Tigers. Towson has struggled immensely and will likely have a second straight 20-loss season. It will be interesting to see the energy of both teams: How will the Seahawks play for their interim coach on TV and how will the Tigers respond to their recent struggles?

Sat 2/13

Northeastern @ William & Mary (7pm).  There will be no love lost on this Valentine’s Day eve matchup between the Huskies and Tribe. The Huskies could be on the path to the top seed in the conference by this time but the Tribe, who have won four out of their last five at home, will have something to say about that. With this being their only meeting, a loss would likely kill the Tribe’s chances at a top seed.

Team Reviews

  • Northeastern (11-2).  The Huskies went on their first true road trip in conference and came out with two wins on the week and increasing their road/neutral win streak to eight with wins over Delaware and Hofstra, each by double digits. The offense has been clicking lately as the Huskies have shot better than 50% in six of their last eight games and have won five of their last six games, all by double digits or more. Matt Janning led this week for Northeastern, shooting 42.8% from the field and making 5-10 three pointers to lead the Huskies with game highs of 17 in each win this week. They get a home test against Georgia State, who has not won an in-conference road game since December, followed by a trip to William & Mary that might decide the top four seeds in the CAA.
  • George Mason (10-3).  The Patriots were stifled Wednesday night by the box-and-one, triangle-and-two defenses that the Panthers threw at them, being shut out in the final 2:52, as Mason fell 61-57. Cam Long scored just two points and made just one of nine shots on the night.  Heading into Drexel, George Mason could not hold off the Dragons as they went on a 23-6 run and beat the Patriots by 13. The Patriots have struggled in their last three games from behind the arc, making just 12-47 (25.5%) in the last three games.
  • Old Dominion (10-3).  The Monarchs used this week to stretch their home win streak to 20 but also saw their road losing streak stretch to two. The Monarchs elite defense, ranked sixth in efficiency entering Sunday, shut down the William & Mary and outrebounded them by 23 in a 19 point win over the Tribe. However, the Monarchs could not dish it out on the road, losing a halftime lead and falling to the VCU Rams by 12. Every loss this season for the Monarchs has been at a road/neutral site, which does not bode well for their BracketBuster game where they will face a Northern Iowa team that is undefeated at home.
  • VCU (9-4).  The Rams continued their impressive trek through the conference with wins over UNC Wilmington and a 12-point win over Old Dominion to propel them back into the race for a top seed in the CAA Tournament. Larry Sanders was benched to start the game against Old Dominion and his backup, Kirill Pishchalnikov responded with 14 points and five rebounds. Sanders chipped in 14 of his own and a game-high 12 rebounds. VCU’s 51.4% effective field goal percentage is second to Northeastern’s in the CAA. After an amazing 20 three pointers in a win over Towson, VCU has come back to average making 4.3 three pointers in the last three games.  Meanwhile, Sophomore Jay Gavin left the team for personal reasons. Gavin saw reduced playing time, playing just 11 minutes in the last seven games. Gavin transferred from Marist, where he was MAAC Co-Rookie of the Year, to Virginia Commonwealth after his coach Matt Brady went to James Madison.
  • Drexel (9-4).  This is the team to watch out for down the stretch. Redshirt Freshman Chris Fouch has made a great impression scoring 28 and 17 in Drexel’s two wins this week. Fouch has scored double-digit points in the last seven games shooting 47.5% from the field. The Dragons have a chance to solidify their contention this week with games against Hofstra and Delaware. They have won five out of their last six, are third in field goal percentage defense and held their opponents to under 40% shooting in five of their last six games, this team is a definite contender for the conference title. They travel to Hofstra in a winnable game and then host Delaware before a crucial road date to Virginia Commonwealth on the 16th.
  • William & Mary (8-5).  The Tribe were dealt a dose of reality in the Constant Convocation Center with a 19 point loss to Old Dominion. Their cold three point shooting hit a low, making just 5-25 attempts in the loss, and every player for the Tribe were held under nine points. In no other game has that happened before this season. That low point appeared to continue in the first half but the Tribe fought through it and prevailed in a tough environment in Atlanta to beat Georgia State by three. Credit should go to the defense, which held the Panthers to two points over the final three and a half minutes even while generating just seven turnovers. They start a homestand this week against Delaware and then a crucial game against Northeastern on Saturday.
  • Hofstra (5-8).  The Pride blew out James Madison on the road by 20 but could not bring the same energy against top team Northeastern, shooting just under a season-low in their 20 point home loss to the Huskies Saturday. One problem this week for the Pride were turnovers, dishing out 35 of them on the week. Chaz Williams had a tough time, making just 4-19 and scoring just 9 points this week. Charles Jenkins is working on his Player of the Year candidacy still with 34 points on 10-22 shooting. The junior star has scored 20 points or more in four of the Pride’s last six games. One of their remaining tests comes this week at home against Drexel and a Saturday road date to UNC Wilmington looms ahead.
  • Georgia State (4-9).  Jihad Ali’s career high 22 points and knocked down a clutch three with 42 seconds left to give the Panthers a win over first-place George Mason. This was just Ali’s fourth double digit scoring game of the season, doubling his previous high of 11. “I worked hard all week with Coach Barnes,” Ali said after the game. “They told me to stay in the gym and my time would come.” The Panthers’ threw a box-and-one and a triangle-and-two at the Patriots and it stifled them late, not allowing them a point over the final 2:52. The Panthers challenged the Tribe at home as well but were unable to make a field goal in the final 3:13, scoring just one point in that span, in a 59-56 loss to William & Mary. Head Coach Rod Barnes said they got good looks in the second half but could not make enough shots to contend with the best three-point shooting team in the conference. They will be embarking on a road trip this week to Northeastern and then a more winnable game at Towson.
  • James Madison (3-9).  Following a two-point loss at George Mason, Head Coach Matt Brady wanted to send a message the team leadership needs to step up. Brady threw his team out of practice Monday but his tactic did not work as Hofstra dealt the Dukes their worst loss in almost eight years. A 20 point loss at home to the Pride drove them a step even further back. Senior Pierre Curtis tried to lead (7.9 ppg, 4 assists per game) but the freshmen have not responded, resulting in their worst shooting percentage since their second game of the year. They have not been able to control the game from the three point line either, shooting 26.5% from behind the arc in the last seven games. Texas A&M transfer Denzel Bowles has done well but it hasn’t been enough, scoring 20.6 points per game in 15 games. Brady has told locals that he plans to sign at least two more junior college players in order to try to contend quickly as Bowles will be a Senior and Julius Wells (16.8 ppg) will be a Junior.
  • UNC Wilmington (3-9).  The search is on for a new head coach at UNC Wilmington. As for the fired Head Coach Benny Moss? He has been reassigned as a special assistant to the athletic director. The school would have to pay the difference if he moved to a lower paying job so keeping him on in a role is cost-effective, since he was terminated with three years left on his deal. They are willing to spend around $250,000 per season, which might not be enough for some of the top major assistants in the country. Rumors have circulated that Vermont’s Mike Lonergan, 90-57 at Vermont, could be a candidate for any open CAA coaching job.
  • Delaware  (2-10).  This week the Blue Hens learned that forwards redshirt freshman Kelvin McNeil and Josh Brinkley will miss the rest of the season. Brinkley was the team’s leading rebounder with 6.2 rebounds per game and started 18 of the Blue Hens first 20 games. McNeil will go under arthroscopic surgery Wednesday. Meanwhile the Blue Hens were held to a season-low 30% field goal percentage in a 16-point loss at home to Northestern. The Blue Hens rank 11th in the conference in effective field goal percentage, and 310th in the country, at 44.7%. It will not get easier this week with trips planned to William & Mary and Drexel.
  • Towson (2-10).  Brian Morris and Robert Nwankwo came back but it did not help as Towson lost their second of three road games on Tuesday by falling at Drexel by 42. Calvin Lee scored eight points but fouled out with just over 15 minutes left in the game. The problem this year has been the defense, and that’s an understatement. In their last four road losses, the Tigers have lost by 25, 9, 59 and 42. They grabbed a road win over a reeling UNC Wilmington team that just fired its coach but this team cannot take care of the glass. They were out rebounded in each of the last six games and have been out rebounded this year by five boards per game which helps lead to league lows in Field Goal percentage defense and scoring defense. The Tigers have not had a winning season under Pat Kennedy and the circles around a potential firing are starting to surface as they approach their third 20-loss season under Kennedy. Snow delayed their weekend game with James Madison and they will have a chance this week to pick up wins at home before traveling to Old Dominion and William & Mary in mid-February.

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 Colonial

Posted by rtmsf on February 1st, 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 2/1)

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

Important Games This Week

Wed 2/3 – William & Mary @ Old Dominion.  This will be the Tribe’s chance to get back into the conference title hunt. William & Mary lost in their first meeting with Old Dominion by three in a game that had ten lead changes. If the Tribe can pull off a road win it will be another notch to a resume that includes wins at Wake Forest and at Maryland.

Sat 2/6 – George Mason @ Drexel.  Coming into this week the Dragons have won four of five of their conference home games. Their top-flight defense will go up against the first-place Patriots for the only time this season, a team that has won seven in a row and 12 of its last 13 games. Ryan Pearson appears to be back for the Patriots and they are starting to hit on all cylinders. If the Dragons want to contend for a top 4 seed, a win would go a long way towards that goal.

Team Reviews

George Mason (10-1)

Cam Long, battled and overcame serious cramping problems (Washington Post), and has found his groove as he scored a team-high 18 in a dominant 77-66 win over Delaware Wednesday night. Long made 8-9 free throws and helped propel a 17-0 first half run to take control, leading by as many as 21 early in the first half over the Blue Hens. The Patriots were without Ryan Pearson due to a tight hamstring but senior Louis Birdsong stepped in and scored 11 points and grabbed 7 rebounds, tying the team high with Mike Morrison.  Saturday, the Patriots needed all 23 points from Cam Long as the Patriots held on to win 70-68 over James Madison. Long has scored 20 or more in four of George Mason’s last five games and help extend their season-high win streak to seven. Ryan Pearson returned to score 7 points and grab a team-high 8 rebounds.

Old Dominion (9-2) 

The Monarchs coasted to their eighth straight win with a 56-40 win over Georgia State Thursday night. Gerald Lee led the Monarchs with 16 points and Trian Iliadis nailed three treys off the bench as the Monarchs got off to a hot start, shooting 50% from the field. However, Lee was frustrated with the team’s play. Northeastern made nine threes over all the zones the Monarchs threw at them Saturday, knocking the Monarchs out of first place in a 10-point road loss. Kenyon Carter, who grabbed 7 rebounds, said they had their chances. “When a team is hitting shots like that, you’ve just got to weather the storm.”

Northeastern (9-2)

The Huskies shot a season-low 31% from the field as Drexel dealt Northeastern their first loss in the new year, falling 61-48 at home Wednesday night. Nkem Ojougbough led the Huskies with 14 points and five blocks but NU could not keep up early with the Dragons, who went on a 14-0 run early to keep the game in control. Chaisson Allen led the charge Saturday afternoon, making 7-10 shots and scoring a team-high 19 in Northeastern’s 74-64 win over Old Dominion. The Huskies led by as many as 19 in the second half as they shot a season high 59.5% from the field. Matt Janning scored 17 points and dished out a team-high 7 assists.

VCU (7-4)

The Rams found their statement win, tying a CAA record with 20 three pointers in a 112-53 win over Towson on Wednesday night. Larry Sanders, who went for 17 points and 14 rebounds, said he was sick of losing and the Rams did not let up: shooting a season high 63.1% from the field, dishing the fourth most assists in CAA history (30) and scoring the most points in Rams history since 1978. Joey Rodriguez scored a season-high 22 points as the Rams coasted late by Georgia State 78-62 on Saturday night. The game was not without some anxious moments as the Rams scored just nine points in the first twelve and a half minutes of the second half, only to see get a three-point play from Ed Nixon to help keep the lead. Rodriguez made 12-13 free throws and dished out 9 assists.

William & Mary (7-4)

The Tribe was dealt their third straight loss, unable to score in the final 2:52 in a two-point loss at James Madison Wednesday night. Quinn McDowell made 5-6 three-point field goals on his way to a team-high 23 points.  The Tribe came back from an eight-point halftime deficit and had many chances to tie or win but the Tribe missed their final six shots. David Schneider’s two free throws with 9 seconds left gave W&M breathing room in their 54-51 win over Drexel Sunday afternoon. Schneider made just 1-8 shots but his 11 points from free throws helped William & Mary snap a three game losing streak. Quinn McDowell scored 12 points on 3-8 shooting.

Drexel (7-4)

Chris Fouch and Jamie Harris both scored 13 as Drexel swept the season series at Northeastern Wednesday night. The Dragons led by as much as 15 and outrebounded the Huskies by 16. Jamie Harris scored 13 points but Drexel could not keep their three-game win streak alive, falling 54-51 at William & Mary Sunday. The Dragons could not come back even while holding the Tribe without a field goal in the final 6:21. Sammie Givens and Chris Fouch each had 11 points, Evan Neisler pulled down a team-high 9 rebounds.

Hofstra (4-7)

Head Coach Tom Pecora took a different approach to his team’s losing streak. Pecora banned his players from wearing any “Hofstra” gear to practice until they broke out of their skid. It appeared to work Wednesday night, scoring the most points in a first half under Pecora on their way to a 93-54 win over UNC Wilmington. Greg Washington set a career-high 10 blocks and scored 14 points. Charles Jenkins scored 16 of his team-high 24 points in the first half as the Pride shot a season high 56.7%. Charles Jenkins scored 21 of his team-high 27 points in the second half and Chaz Williams added 18 points and 8 boards to beat Delaware by 10 at home Saturday. Tom Pecora moved to third on the Hofstra all-time wins list with his 147th win.

James Madison (3-8)

Denzel Bowles racked up another double-double — 17 points and 15 rebounds — in a comeback win over Radford Monday night. The Dukes came back on a 9-0 run to turn a one-point deficit with 3:12 left to an eight point lead.  Radford tied a record for fewest free throws made and fewest attempted going 0-2 from the line. Pierre Curtis’ two made free throws with 2:08 to go broke the sixth tie of the game and gave the Dukes a 65-63 win over the Tribe Wednesday night. Despite not making a field goal in the final 4:11, Curtis made the only two free throws the Dukes made in the half to give them the win. Denzel Bowles led the Dukes with 21 points on 7-13 shooting and a team-high 8 boards. Denzel Bowles notched a double-double with 20 points and a team-high 13 rebounds but James Madison was unable to come back Saturday afternoon and fell 70-68 to George Mason. The Dukes could not overcome a deficit as large as 12 in the second half even shooting 69.6% from the field and making four threes. The Patriots forced 20 turnovers and scored 20 points off of them.

Georgia State (3-8)

Georgia State shot its worst percentage since 2003 in a 16-point loss at Old Dominion Thursday night. The Panthers got down big, shooting just 27.6% from the field and ending up behind 13 at halftime. Joe Dukes and Trae Goldston led the Panthers with 11 points each. The Panthers have lost five straight road games. Joe Dukes scored 20 points but the Panthers could not make baskets late, and shot 29.4% from the field in the second half, as they fell at Virgina Commonwealth by 16 Saturday night.  James Fields’ three pointer with 6:27 left cut the VCU lead to three but the Rams went on a 9-2 run to close out the Panthers chances for good.

UNC Wilmington (3-8)

The Seahawks’ sixth straight loss would be Benny Moss’ last. UNC Wilmington suffered its second worst loss in the Seahawks’ history in the CAA, losing by 39 to Hofstra. Johnny Wolf led the Seahawks with 14 points but Chad Tomko, playing with a lingering sprained right ankle, did not score a point in 17 minutes. Tomko said, “We didn’t show any emotion or any pride.” Soon enough Moss was told that he was “reassigned” in the athletic department and assistant Brooks Lee will serve as the interim coach. Moss went 41-74 in four seasons, 23-45 in the CAA. … The Brooks Lee era did not start as planned Saturday. The Seahawks were frustrated by a zone and made just 5-34 shots from behind the arc and squandered a lead as large as eight early in a 58-53 loss to Towson. Matt Wilson, who scored 2 points and grabbed 2 rebounds is out indefinitely with a broken clavicle. John Fields scored a team-high 13 points and pulled down 21 of UNC Wilmington’s 47 rebounds. The Seahawks have lost seven of their last eight games.

Delaware  (2-9)

The Blue Hens were doomed by poor shooting early as the Blue Hens got down by as many as 21 in a 77-66 loss at George Mason Wednesday night. Jawan Carter, Alphonso Dawson and D.J. Boney combined to shoot 1-17 early as the Patriots dominated on the floor and on the glass, outrebounding the Blue Hens by seven and blocking seven shots. Carter led the Blue Hens with 23 points on 8-18 shooting, making three of the Blue Hens’ four three point field goals. The Blue Hens started out slow, making just one of their first 16 shots, and getting down by as many as 13 in a 77-67 loss at Hofstra Saturday. Jawan Carter scored a team-high 22 points and grabbed 9 rebounds but the Blue Hens couldn’t rebound from making just seven field goals in the first half.

Towson (2-9)

The Tigers, playing without Robert Nwankwo and Brian Morris, never stayed in the game with the Rams and fell to an embarrassing 112-53 loss at Virginia Commonwealth Wednesday night. This loss was the worst in the Tigers 30 year history of Division I play and the most since giving up 120 to Maryland in 1994. Jarrel Smith and Josh Thornton led the Tigers with a team-high 12 points. The Tigers got a team-high 13 from Josh Thornton and, as a team, made 14-15 free throws in a 58-53 win at UNC Wilmington. Their zone stifled the Seahawks as they made just 2 of their last 27 three pointers in the game. Calvin Lee recorded a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Robert Nwankwo returned after a two game respite with a shoulder injury to score 2 points and grab 5 rebounds. Brian Morris is expected to be back for the Tigers’ next game Wednesday at Drexel.

When not covering the CAA for Rush The Court, Ryan writes about Fantasy Baseball on Rotosavants.com and writes on his own website: RyanRestivo.com. Ryan is busy being immersed in baseball draft prep and has a very cool Fantasy Baseball project for drafts. You can contact him here.

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After the Buzzer: Evan Turner Blows Up Again

Posted by rtmsf on November 13th, 2009

atb

The Evan Turner ShowOhio State 72, James Madison 44.  Evan Turner is quickly stamping himself as the must-see player of the new season, with another phenomenal performance for the 6’7 point forward from OSU.  He had 24 pts, 17 rebs, 4 assists and 2 steals in 34 minutes of action, which means he’s now averaging a ridiculous 19/17/7 on the year, and if he continues putting up these kinds of numbers in two nationally-televised games against ranked teams next week at MSG, it’s safe to say that Turner will be the November favorite for NPOY (we can already hear Vitale crowing about him next week).  Ohio State also got thirteen minutes from their previously injured center Dallas Lauderdale, who looked winded but managed to grab a few rebounds (4) and hammer one down during the game.  The story of the game other than Turner/Lauderdale, however, was how the Buckeye defense clamped down on JMU in the second half.  OSU held the Dukes to 24% (7-29) in the half, turning a reasonably close halftime score (34-25) into a 28-point blowout.  We’ve now seen two games from each of UNC, Ohio State, California and Syracuse, and in terms of impressiveness, we’d have to rank them accordingly: 1) Ohio State; 2) Syracuse; 3) UNC; 4) California.  Guess we’ll find out next week when they play each other.

Other Games of Interest.

  • NC State 69, Georgia State 53.  Sidney Lowe got his first win of the year behind Tracy Smith’s 18/11.

On Tap Friday. Friday is the ‘real’ start to the regular season, as it’s the first non-exempt day that teams could schedule games.  There are 126 games on the docket, and most of them have blowout written all over them, but there are a few interesting storylines we’ll be tracking over the course of the evening.

  • #5 Kentucky vs. Morehead State (ESPNU) – 6:30pm – no John Wall, but Patrick Patterson vs. Kenneth Faried will be worthwhile.
  • #1 Kansas vs. Hofstra (ESPN FC) – 8pm – the national title favorite starts with a visit from Charles Jenkins and Hofstra.
  • Wake Forest vs. Oral Roberts – 8pm – this could be the best matchup of the night, with Scott Sutton’s team visiting a revamped Wake lineup.  RTC Live will be there.
  • #11 Tennessee vs. Austin Peay – 9pm – UT had best be ready for the visiting Govs.
  • #19 Mississippi State vs. Rider – 9pm – still no word on Renardo Sidney’s eligibility, but how will Ryan Thompson match up with Varnado/Riek?
  • Auburn vs. Niagara – 9:30pm – it really wouldn’t shock us at all if the SEC got off to another rough start with a loss to visiting Niagara here.
  • San Diego vs. Stanford – 10pm – good opportunity for the WCC to win a game against a struggling Pac-10 program.
  • #13 Washington vs. Wright State – (FSN) – 10pm – defending Pac-10 champs will face an interesting test of tempo with the visting Raiders.
  • St. Mary’s vs. New Mexico State – 11:30pm – interesting inter-sectional mid-major matchup between two teams that will need this win for their overall profile.
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2009-10 Conference Primers: #13 – CAA

Posted by rtmsf on October 24th, 2009

seasonpreview

Ryan Kish of George Mason Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Colonial Athletic Association.

Predicted Order of Finish:

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

All-Conference Team:

  • Charles Jenkins (G), Hofstra
  • Matt Janning (G), Northeastern
  • Cam Long (G), George Mason
  • Gerald Lee (F), ODU
  • Larry Sanders (F), VCU

6th Man. Sherrod Wright, George Mason

Impact Newcomer. Rashanti Harris, Georgia State

caa logoWhat You Need to Know:

  • The CAA returns 73 percent of last year’s starters (44 of 60).
  • Last season the CAA sent five teams to the postseason.
  • Fifteen of the league’s top twenty scorers return.
  • ESPN ranked George Mason’s recruiting class #1 amongst mid-majors.
  • Six teams finished with 18 or more wins last season.
  • VCU’s Larry Sanders already picking up nation preseason honors here, here, and here.

Predicted ChampionOld Dominion (NCAA Seed:  #9). The Monarchs return six players who made 13 or more starts last season, including All-CAA Gerald Lee, who is my vote for preseason POY.  Lee stepped up as a leader last season, especially late in the year at the CAA tournament. Along side Lee forward Frank Hassell gives them probably the best one-two punch frontcourt in the league. Guard Darius James is poised for a breakout season and was deadly from 3-pt land last year, so his growth could be the key to ODU being the league’s most balanced squad.  Add freshman stud Josh Hicks to the mix and you got a whole lot of talent walking into CAA arenas this season.  Will it be the right mix of talent and experience to run through the competitive CAA regular season?  Head coach Blaine Taylor has lived in the shadow of George Mason and VCU lately despite winning 119 games over the last five years. This is his best squad on paper since 2005.

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #25 – Atlantic Sun

Posted by rtmsf on October 13th, 2009

seasonpreview

Ryan Dunn is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic Sun Conference. Click here for all of our 2009-10 Season Preview materials.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Lipscomb Bisons                             (20-9, 15-5)
  2. Jacksonville Dolphins                     (19-11, 14-6)
  3. Mercer Bears                                   (17-15, 12-8)
  4. Campbell Camels                            (17-13, 11-9)
  5. East Tennessee State Bucs              (15-15, 11-9)
  6. Belmont Bruins                               (13-17, 10-10)
  7. Florida Gulf Coast Eagles              (14-15, 9-11)              
  8. Stetson Hatters                               (13-16, 8-12)
  9. North Florida Ospreys                    (11-19, 7-13)
  10. Kennesaw State Owls                   (9-23, 5-15)
  11. USC-Upstate Spartans                  (4-25, 4-16)

Preseason All-Conference Team (all stats 2008-09 season):

  • James Florence (G), Mercer                  20.8 points, 3.7 assists
  • Ben Smith (G), Jacksonville                   16.9 points, 4.0 assists
  • Jonathan Rodriguez  (F), Campbell        15.6 points, 8.3 rebounds
  • Mike Smith (F), ETSU                               15.3 points, 7.7 rebounds
  • Adnan Hodzic (C), Lipscomb                17.1 points, 7.1 rebounds

6th Man.  Daniel Emerson, Mercer.  Yes I know Emerson will not come off the bench but since he is such a good player and he wasn’t mentioned on my all-conference team I wanted to give him some recognition.  Emerson was the only player in the league last year to average a double-double.  

Impact Newcomer.  Justin Tubbs, ETSU.  Transfer from Alabama, very athletic and should provide immediate help in the ETSU backcourt.

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What You Need To Know.

  • While the A-Sun has 11 teams in the league, only nine teams are eligible for postseason play as Florida Gulf Coast and USC-Upstate are still completing their transition from Division 2to Division 1.  This upcoming season marks the first year that North Florida and Kennesaw State will be eligible for postseason play as they have now completed their transition to Division I.  Only eight spots are reserved for the conference tournament meaning that only one eligible team will miss out.  This year’s tournament will be played at Mercer’s University Center in Macon, Georgia.
  • Some headlines that made news this offseason included a coaching change at North Florida as they named former Baylor assistant Matthew Driscoll head coach.  Driscoll has put together quite the coaching staff that features former Campbell assistant Bobby Kennan, former Head Coach at Lander College Bruce Evans, and Jeremy Shyatt, former Director of Basketball Operations at VCU and son of former Clemson head coach and current Florida top assistant Larry Shyatt.  Driscoll and his staff brought in nine newcomers to go along with six returning players.  Five of the newcomers earned all-state honors in the state of Florida. 
  • The league features two of the more premier mid-major players in Campbell’s Jonathan Rodriguez and Mercer’s James Florence.  Both have a chance to rewrite their school and conference record books.  Florence is the active leader for career scoring in the league with Rodriguez following in second.  Rodriguez stands second on the Atlantic Sun’s career double-double list with 39, and is just three off the record.  Florence currently sits in fifth on the Mercer all-time scoring list.  Both players should indeed break numerous records and if you haven’t seen them play it would definitely be worth your money to see them in action this season.

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RTC Aftermath: CAA Quarterfinals

Posted by rtmsf on March 8th, 2009

Ryan Kish liveblogged the ODU-Hofstra game today, although the Richmond Arena is having technical issues with their wifi access, so we’re not sure if we’ll get another chance to liveblog tomorrow. If things are working ok, we’ll havee the VCU-ODU game for you at 3pm EST.

Quarterfinals

  • VCU 61 Georgia State 52.  VCU got a little sloppy in this one but Eric Maynor did what he had to do to get the Rams the victory. ODU will be a difficult match up for them.
  • Old Dominion 52, Hofstra 51.  Gerald Lee had an MVP performance dropping 30, but Hofstra almost stole the show with the excellent play by Charles Jenkins. Watching Jenkins and Lee trade baskets at the end made this one fun to watch.
  • George Mason 61, James Madison 53.  Patriots again used a balance attack and excellent defense down the stretch to get this victory. JMU was a worthy opponent but the Patriots just seem like they wanted it more.
  • Towson 58, Northeastern 54.  Towson again pulls off the upset. The #11 seeded Tigers won only five conference games all season but have used great defense to make it this far in the tournament. Northeastern just was not on their game and may have taken the Tigers for granted.  Tigers are confident and playing like they have nothing to lose because, well, they don’t.

Semifinals (Sunday)

  • VCU vs. Old Dominion – 3pm
  • George Mason vs. Towson – 5:30pm
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