America East Tournament Preview & Season Wrap-Up

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 1st, 2012

John Templon is the RTC correspondent for America East. You can also find his musings online at NYC Buckets or on Twitter @nybuckets.

Conference Tournament Preview

 

The top four seeds in the America East have been dominating conference play all season. That’s why they’re expected to meet up in the semifinals. The team that could potentially crash the party is six-seed Hartford, which is playing close to home. If the Hawks get hot from three, there’s always a chance to pull an upset, because they love to shoot the long ball. Also, seven-seed Maine has a ton of talent, but crashed at the end of America East play, losing six of its final seven games. The highest seeded team that survives Hartford is going to get the opportunity every team wants, to host 40 minutes of basketball that will ultimately lead to a berth into the NCAA Tournament. It should make for an exciting, gritty long weekend and championship game.

A Look Back

At the beginning of the season the expectations were that Boston University, Stony Brook, Vermont and Albany would be at the top of the standings. At the end of the season, that’s exactly what we’ve got, except they’re in a slightly different order. An injury to D.J. Irving seemed to throw BU off its rhythm a little bit, but the Terriers still finished 12-4 in conference, including a win over Stony Brook and a sweep of Albany.

Vermont benefited from the continuity of having John Becker take over for Mike Lonergan, but an upset loss to Binghamton, the biggest surprise of the conference season, leaves them slightly behind the eight-ball heading into the conference tournament. But it did save the Bearcats from the indignity of needing to win the play-in game on Thursday to avoid a winless season.

The rest of the bottom of the standings worked out pretty much as expected. None of the other teams has managed to crack the upper echelon of the conference. Hartford, after starting the season 0-13, rebounded to finish 7-9 in conference and qualifies as America East’s biggest surprise.

Gerardo Suero's Quickness And Scoring Ability Caused Headaches Across The Conference.

Conference Accolades

  • Player of the Year: Gerardo Suero, Albany He burst onto the scene this season after a long, circuitous route to upstate New York. On the way, he learned a lot of tricks on offense and it showed, as he was incredibly efficient while using the third most possessions in the nation when he was on the court. Suero averaged 21.7 points per game and also contributed 5.7 boards and 3.0 assists.
  • Coach of the Year: Steve Pikiell, Stony Brook Pikiell wins this award because his team finished in first place. It’s tough to deal with expectations and he’s formed a talented rotation into a team that can have a different person beat you on any given night. This is the second time in three seasons that the Seawolves have won the regular season title. This time, Stony Brook needs to finish the deal and qualify for its first ever NCAA Tournament.

All-Conference Team:

  • G Gerardo Suero, Jr. Albany
  • G Darryl Partin, Sr., Boston University This team was supposed to be Partin’s this season, and after a midseason injury to D.J. Irving, it truly was. He did a good job as the go-to guy, holding down the fort and scoring 19.7 points per game until his running mate was ready to go again.
  • G Bryan Dougher, Sr., Stony Brook The designated gunner on the conference’s best team, Dougher shot 37.3% from three and scored 13.4 points per game, the highest of his career, in the fewest minutes per game in his career.
  • F Tommy Brenton, Jr., Stony Brook Brenton isn’t your traditional First Team player, but his defense made him one of the key players in the Seawolves’ rotation. He averaged 7.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.5 steals in 29.4 minutes per game this season.
  • F Brian Voelkel, So., Vermont – Voelkel didn’t score much, averaging just 4.9 points per game, but he was amongst the America East leaders in rebounds at 8.3 per game, and assists at 5.0 per game.

Darryl Partin (far left), Bryan Dougher, Tommy Brenton and Brian Voelkel Rounded Out The America East First Team

Freshman of the Year: Four McGlynn, Vermont McGlynn and his top competition for this award, Maine’s Justin Edwards, look like they’ll be great cornerstones for their respective teams for years to come. McGlynn, though, was more consistent overall this season. He scored 24 points in 27 minutes in a 68-49 win over Stony Brook that was the Catamounts best victory of the season.

Defensive Player of the Year: Tommy Brenton, Stony Brook At 6’5,” Brenton has the ability to cover anyone in America East. He’s an excellent rebounder and his offense comes from his defense. Always taking on Stony Brook’s toughest assignment, he led a defense that finished first in conference play by allowing 0.91 points per possession.

Reader’s Take

 

Power Rankings

  1. Stony Brook (20-8, 14-2)– The Seawolves have good wins at home over Cornell, Rider and Columbia, but a victory at Northeastern during BracketBusters was the first road win for SBU outside of conference play. Considering how down America East is in general this season, Stony Brook might end up in the play-in game and they could definitely win it.

    Steve Pikiell and Stony Brook Are The Favorites To Win The America East Tournament (AP)

  2. Vermont (20-11, 12-3) – The Catamounts own the America East’s best win – over Old Dominion in overtime – and its worst loss – at Binghamton. This is a solid team, but it needs every player on its game in order to win the slowdown games Vermont likes to play.
  3. Boston University (16-15, 12-4) – The record isn’t great, but most of it can be traced to losing D.J. Irving right before a key stretch in conference play and a lack of options in the frontcourt. Joe Jones did figure out a way to beat top seed Stony Brook once, at home, but they were swept by Vermont, their likely semifinal opponent. The second one was close, 68-67, and gives the Terriers hope they can repeat as champions.
  4. Albany (18-13, 9-7) – Head coach Will Brown has a contract extension, but the length and terms won’t be announced until after the postseason. That makes it sound like he has a lot of incentive to get the Great Danes some wins. The potential is there with Gerardo Suero, Mike Black and Logan Aronhalt. The problem is up front. UA suffered two losses to Stony Brook by a total of 20 points because there’s no one who can handle SBU’s size.
  5. New Hampshire (13-15, 7-9) – The Wildcats are hot, having won five of their last six games, including the last one Albany and UNH played on February 9. They’ve been winning close games over the elite (Albany, Boston U.) and taking care of business against the bottom. It’s straight to the elite teams on Saturday with Albany.
  6. Hartford (8-21, 7-9) – A number of talented freshmen, including Nate Sikma and Mark Nwakamma, give the Hawks something to build upon. There’s also some positive momentum considering the 8-8 finish to the regular season after the winless streak to start. John Gallagher had to spend a lot of time getting his team ready for this level, but it should pay big dividends in 2012-13.
  7. Maine (12-16, 6-10) – So much talent, so little to show for it. Justin Edwards and Alasdair Fraser are great blocks to build around, but they’re going to need some more help. The departures of Gerald McLemore and Raheem Singleton is going to leave holes in the offense next season. What Ted Woodward really needs is for his team to commit to play defense. Maine has allowed six of its last seven opponents to score at least a point per possession and lost each of those games.
  8. UMBC (4-25, 3-13) – Losing Chris De La Rosa at the beginning of the season basically tanked the Retrievers’ season. Along the way, though, Chase Plummer picked up a lot of the slack and walk-on Ryan Cook became an integral part of the rotation. Both those players will be back next season as UMBC tries to find a new way to hold down opponents after surrendering a conference-worst 1.12 points per possession this season.
  9. Binghamton (1-28, 1-15) – All those losses have exposed the fact that changes still need to be made in upstate New York. The Bearcats have left Mark Macon with an almost impossible situation and while there’s some talent on the roster, Robert Mansell’s knee injury and Ben Dickinson’s immature actions on the court leave questions that need to be answered before next season.
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Checking In On… the America East Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 9th, 2011

John Templon is the RTC correspondent for the  America East. You can also find his musings online at NYC Buckets or on Twitter @nybuckets.

Reader’s Take

 

The Week That Was:

  • Nicks and Bruises: Every team has a few injuries at this time in the season and they’re impacting some rotations. Ben Crenca is out for a few weeks for Vermont and his backup Luke Apfeld also tweaked something. Apfeld, though, returned to play 23 minutes in Vermont’s last game against Saint Louis.
  • Dropping the Albany Cup: Siena and Albany have a great rivalry. Unfortunately, this time the Saints took home the victory, 64-60. O.D. Anosike scored 21 points and grabbed 18 rebounds for Siena in the victory. The Great Danes really struggled, shooting 24-64 (37.5%) from the field.
  • Chris De La Rosa leaves UMBC: De La Rosa was an All-America East Second Team selection last season, but after playing in just one game this season, the Retrievers’ star point guard sent a release out through the school stating that he was leaving the program. The release said that he left for “personal and family-related matters.”

Maine's Justin Edwards May Exude A Quiet Demeanor, But He Lets His Game Do The Talking. (GoBlackBears.com)

Power Rankings

  1. Boston University (4-5) – From November 26 through December 3, the Terriers played the best stretch of basketball of any America East school. Wins over Rhode Island, Hofstra, Delaware and Boston College reasserted Joe Jones’ team as the one to beat in the conference this season. Darryl Partin is shouldering a huge amount of the offensive load and is averaging 23.9 points per game. His sidekick in the backcourt is D.J. Irving, who averages 13.8 points per game.
  2. Vermont (4-5) – The win over Old Dominion is the best by any America East this season. The Catamounts don’t play very pretty basketball, being one of the slowest teams in college basketball, but they’re just good enough at offense and defense to be a contender this season. Brian Voelkel continues to be a beast on the boards averaging 7.8 rebounds per game. Read the rest of this entry »
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A BC-BU Rivalry: Cold as Ice

Posted by Patrick Prendergast on December 5th, 2011

Patrick Prendergast is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report from Saturday’s game between Boston College and Boston University.

A fierce rivalry exists between Boston College and Boston University… at least when it comes to the puck dropping, anyway. Even people on the west coast know about “that Beanpot thing.” Ironically, the intensity and interest cool once the rivalry slides off the ice and onto the hardwood for the room-temperature edition.

The Terriers and Eagles renewed roundball acquaintances on Saturday at Conte Forum on Boston College’s campus, raring to go with that last meeting in 2004-05 fresh in their minds. Wait, two schools separated by less than a four-mile stretch of Commonwealth Avenue have not played in seven years? We get that Boston traffic can be brutal, but c’mon now. Yes, Boston is known as a notoriously pro sports-centric town with seemingly little mainstream regard for collegiate athletics, but, as proven by hockey, an appetite exists. However that interest cannot be cultivated unless and until there are actual games played on a consistent basis.

Donahue Will be Doing a lot of Teaching With His Young Eagles

Now is the time to stoke up the hoop rivalry. The increased local exposure created could help both schools nationally. One program is working to make its second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, while the other looks to build around its young pieces to get to the next level. While you may be thinking BC is the established tournament-ready squad and BU is in rebuilding mode, think again.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Checking In On… the America East Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 25th, 2011

John Templon is the RTC correspondent for America East. You can also find his musings online at NYC Buckets (http://www.nycbuckets.com) or on Twitter @nybuckets.

Reader’s Take

 

The Week That Was

  • Close Calls: The teams of America East have found themselves on the wrong end of close scores early in the season. The nine teams are a combined 1-8 in games decided by five points or fewer or in overtime. That includes Vermont’s two-point loss against South Florida, which would’ve been a big scalp for the league. The Catamounts also got the league’s first close victory with an overtime defeat of Old Dominion, 77-75 in overtime, on Tuesday.
  • New High Scorers: Two of the leading scorers in America East this season weren’t here in 2010-11. Albany’s Gerardo Suero has given the Great Danes a go-to guy and freshman Justin Edwards is leading the way for Maine. See Albany’s section below for much more about Suero. What’s impressive about Edwards, a Canadian import, is that he’s also leading the conference in steals in the early going with 3.5 per game. Edwards was named the America East Rookie of the Week for his efforts last week.
  • Slow Starts at the Top: Vermont, Boston University and Stony Brook were supposed to be the class of America East coming into this season. The Catamounts won two games they should’ve but lost to Long Island in their final game of Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament. The Seawolves suffered a tough loss to Sacred Heart and the Terriers fell to Northeastern and Cornell. Those are the types of 50/50 games that the top third of the league needs to win in order for America East to get some more respect moving forward.

Albany's Gerardo Suero Diced Up Syracuse's Zone, But The Great Danes Came Up Short. (Kevin Rivoli/AP)

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RTC Conference Primers: #29 – America East Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 5th, 2011

John Templon of Big Apple Buckets is the RTC correspondent for America East. You can find him on Twitter at @nybuckets.

Reader’s Take I


Top Storylines

  • Getting Healthy: A number of America East teams are counting on the healthy return of star players to help boost their fortunes this season. New Hampshire has two players returning from injuries that cost them time last season, Alvin Abreu and Ferg Myrick. Abreu was a second-team all-league choice in 2009-10 before missing all but two games of last season with a knee injury. Myrick averaged 12.1 PPG and 4.1 RPG last season, but missed 16 games due to his own knee injury. Another second-team player from 2009-10, Tommy Brenton, returns for Stony Brook as well. Even after missing last season, Brenton is the current conference leader in career rebounds. One player who missed most of last season, Boston University’s Jake O’Brien, unfortunately re-injured his ankle and will miss the entire 2011-12 campaign as well.
  • Departed Head Men: Two of the top teams in the America East lost their head coaches during the offseason carousel. Pat Chambers made the NCAA Tournament at Boston University and then left for Penn State and Mike Lonergan went from Vermont to the head job at George Washington. Former Columbia head coach Joe Jones is replacing Chambers, while the Catamounts decided to promote John Becker. Becker was Lonergan’s assistant for the past five seasons.
  • Learning The Hard Way: Boston University is one of the league favorites and the Terriers will find out quickly if they’re for real. The non-conference schedule is a very difficult one that includes road games at Texas, Boston College and Villanova. Another way to learn about the conference early in the season is to watch Boston College. The Eagles also play against New Hampshire, a team which could surprise people, and Stony Brook during non-conference play.
  • The Great Race and Parity: This season’s conference race looks like it’s going to be a three-horse race with Boston University, Vermont and Stony Brook ahead of the pack. That might be good news for the Seawolves as five different teams have won the conference title in the past five seasons. Since the Catamounts won in 2010 and the Terriers in 2011, maybe 2011-12 is the season where Stony Brook breaks through for its first ever NCAA Tournament appearance.

Terrier Fans Should Expect To See Plenty of Darryl Partin This Season. (AP Photo)

Predicted Order of Finish
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RTC Summer Update: America East

Posted by Brian Goodman on July 13th, 2011

With the completion of the NBA Draft and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. Our newest update comes courtesy of our America East correspondent, John Templon. John also writes about New York City basketball at Big Apple Buckets.

Reader’s Take I

Summer Storylines

  • Coaches Moving On Up: Vermont and Boston University lost two very talented coaches this summer. The Catamounts’ Mike Lonergan went back to his Washington, D.C., roots and took the job at George Washington. Lonergan – who won a national title at Division III Catholic University in D.C. and also coached at Maryland – should fit in well at GW. Assistant John Becker replaced Lonergan, so there should be strong continuity. On the other hand, BU had to scramble after Pat Chambers was hired by Penn State to replace Ed DeChellis. The Terriers ended up with former Columbia head coach Joe Jones, who spent last season as an assistant at Boston College.
  • Playing With The (Future) Pros: The 2010-11 America East Player of the Year, Boston University’s John Holland, played in the Portsmouth Invitational. He finished tied for ninth in scoring at 15.0 points per game and 18th in rebounding with 6.3 boards per game. He played with former Florida forward Vernon Macklin and former Villanova guard Corey Fisher on the Portsmouth Sports Club team that finished in fourth place. Holland had workouts with a few NBA teams before signing with Chorale de Roanne of France’s Pro A Division.
  • A World of Experience: America East continues to pick up steam as a worldwide conference. Four players in Maine’s incoming recruiting class aren’t originally from the United States and Albany has two players coming in from Australia and another from the Dominican Republic in its 2011 class. Another Australian, Corban Wroe, will be playing for Hartford in the fall. Many of the incoming recruits have experience playing with their respective international squads and incoming Maine freshman Noam Laish was selected as the captain of Israel’s U-18 squad for the European Championships.

Patrick Chambers parlayed last season's tournament berth with BU into a payday at Penn State, sending BU scrambling (credit: Steve McLaughlin).

Power Rankings

  1. Boston University: After making the NCAA Tournament in 2011, the Terriers return all but one of their linchpins. Of course, that one guy is America East Player of the Year John Holland who averaged 19.2 PPG last season. BU will also be going without head coach Pat Chambers, but he certainly didn’t leave the cupboard bare for Joe Jones. Darryl Partin (14.3 PPG) and Jake O’Brien (10.9 PPG, 5.5 RPG) should provide scoring. Also watch out for sophomore guard D.J. Irving. He averaged 8.0 PPG as a freshman and his workload should only increase in 2011-12. The Terriers have won 21 games in each of the past two seasons and a postseason berth is definitely the expectation. Read the rest of this entry »
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NCAA Releases Coaches’ Academic Progress Rating Database

Posted by jstevrtc on August 6th, 2010

The NCAA unleashed the database for academic progress ratings (APRs) for coaches in six different sports on Thursday.  While it’s fun to plug in coaches from a few other sports — anyone surprised by Pete Carroll’s 971, 24 points higher than the college football average in 2008-09, and six-for-six over 925? — the most fun for us comes from plugging in the names of college basketball coaches and seeing how they did each year.

First, though, just a little background.  The NCAA uses this little metric to determine how a team’s athletes are moving toward the ultimate goal of graduating, and the formula they employ to come up with the number is pretty simple.  Each semester, every athlete gets a point for being academically eligible, and another for sticking with the school.  You add those up for your team, then divide by the number of points possible.  For some reason, they decided to multiply those  numbers by 1,000 to get rid of the resulting decimal point (otherwise, it would have been as confusing as, say, a batting average), so if you get a score of .970, that means you got 97% of the points possible, and your APR score is 970. If you fall below the NCAA’s mandated level of 925, you get a warning, and then penalties if you don’t improve.  Keep in mind, though, that if a coach changes schools, he shares his APR with the coach he replaced.  And, the database only goes through 2008-09 right now.  That’s why if you search for John Calipari, you’ll notice he has two APRs — a 980 that he received at Memphis which he shares with Josh Pastner, and a 922 for the same season at Kentucky which he shares with Billy Gillispie even though Calipari technically didn’t coach a game at Kentucky during that season.  Because he was hired in 2009, he shares the APR with the preceding coach.  You get the picture.

Why is this man smiling? How about two straight perfect APRs?

A couple of the numbers that people have been talking about the most since the database was released are the two perfect 1,000s put up by Bob Huggins‘ last two West Virginia teams.  Most college basketball fans like to point the dirty end of the stick at Huggins when it comes to academics, and he’s been a lightning rod since his days at Cincinnati; rightly so, since his last three years as Bearcat boss saw APRs of 917, 826, and a eyebrow-raising 782.  But his scores in Morgantown have been excellent, so he’d appreciate it if we all found a new poster boy for academic underachievement.

An AP report today specifically mentioned Connecticut’s Jim Calhoun, who, in the six years the database covers, has had teams better than the national average — and over the 925 cutoff — only three times.  In fact, the APRs of his last three teams have steadily declined, posting scores of 981, 909, and (ouch) 844 from 2006-2009.  The same AP report fingered Kelvin Sampson as having even more harrowing results, having only two years in which he topped 900 (his 2004-05 Oklahoma squad scored exactly 900) — his 2003-04 Oklahoma team posted a 917, and his final roster at Indiana in 2007-08 turned in a downright hurtful 811.

With a new toy like this, there was no way we could keep from checking all of the APRs of the Ivy League schools.  The most impressive tally was by Columbia’s Joe Jones, who posted six straight perfect scores of 1,000 but will now evidently become an assistant on fellow Ivy man Steve Donahue’s Boston College team next season.  Only two teams in the league didn’t score a perfect score for the 2008-09 season.  The two bad boys of the league were Glen Miller, whose Penn team from that season put up — gasp! — a 950 (he had two straight perfect scores before that), and Tommy Amaker’s Harvard squad from that year, which posted a 985.

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Morning Five: 05.03.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 2nd, 2010

  1. There have been several more comings and goings in the coaching ranks over the last few days.  Two Ivy League schools filled head coaching positions, with Cornell replacing Steve Donahue with Virginia Tech assistant Bill Courtney, and Columbia replacing Joe Jones with St. Mary’s assistant Kyle Smith.  In other vacant head coaching positions, Rutgers is expected to name a coach to replace the embattled Fred Hill sometime this week, and ESPN commentator Fran Fraschilla and Robert Morris’ Mike Rice are alleged to be the co-leaders.  In contract extension news, Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan is now signed through 2015 in Madison and the long-awaited extension for UConn’s Jim Calhoun is supposedly near-completion despite rampant rumors of NCAA violations on the horizon.
  2. New Hofstra head coach Tim Welsh is off to a troubling start in his new job when he was found sleeping at the wheel of his Lexus early Friday morning with a blood alcohol level of 0.18.  He pleaded not guilty to the charge of DWI and expressed deep regrets for his transgression but the school has suspended him indefinitely without pay while things get sorted out.
  3. Some key player news: Ole Miss starting forward Murphy Holloway, a sophomore who averaged 10/7 last year for the Rebs, is leaving Oxford for somewhere closer to his six-month old daughter in his hometown of Columbia, SC.  Ole Miss is unlikely to allow him to transfer immediately to South Carolina, so Clemson appears to be the best bet for his future services.  Cal starting forward Omondi Amoke was dismissed from the team for an undisclosed rule violation.  He had been previously suspended for the Bears’ NCAA Tournament games against Louisville and Duke, and his departure means that Mike Montgomery will have to replace his entire starting lineup next season.  At BYU, up-and-coming guard Michael Loyd, Jr., is also leaving, and it appears that his flamboyant style (he has sported a mohawk and a tongue piercing) may have had something do to with it.  Assuming superstar Jimmer Fredette returns, BYU should still be fine in the backcourt with several returnees.
  4. The 2010 Jimmy V Classic has been announced with a solid doubleheader of games on tap: Memphis vs. Kansas followed by Michigan State vs. Syracuse.  This event could involve three of the top ten teams in America.
  5. The matchups for the Pac-10/Big 12 Hardwood Classic were announced late last week, and many of the games are simply return games from last year’s event.   We really don’t understand why these two leagues can’t get their act together on this thing.  Here are a couple of suggestions.  #1) make it a real event that covers two or three consecutive nights the way the ACC/Big 10 Challenge works.  #2) put all of the games on television, preferably on the same network (FSN?). #3) get some better matchups.  Sheesh.  For your perusal:

Saturday, November 27
USC at Nebraska

Thursday, December 2
Missouri at Oregon
UCLA at Kansas
Arizona State at Baylor

Friday, December 3
Kansas State at Washington State

Saturday, December 4
Oregon State at Colorado
California at Iowa State

Sunday, December 5
Texas at USC
Oklahoma at Arizona

Tuesday, December 21
Stanford at Oklahoma State

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Checking in on… the Ivy League

Posted by rtmsf on February 12th, 2010

Dave Zeitlin is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

At Large….At Last?

Following the Sports Illustrated story profiling Tommy Amaker and Harvard hoops, and with Cornell breaking into the Top 25, the intro this week was going to be all about the suggestion that the Ivy League could possibly receive (gasp!) an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The last time that happened was, well, never.Then Coach Amaker’s team did what most of his teams (Seton Hall and Michigan) have done previously — crashed and burned at the most inopportune time. An 86-50 thrashing at the hands of the Big Red was followed by a detrimental loss to Princeton. So much for the at-large conversation, right? Wrong! Traditional one-bid mid-major conferences have a simple formula for getting a second team into the tournament: have the nationally known and ranked team get knocked off during the conference tournament – i.e. Butler (Horizon League), Gonzaga (West Coast Conference) even Siena (MAAC) – allowing the eventual conference tourney champ to get the bid. But wait, all you Ivy-savvy fans say, our conference doesn’t have a tournament. So RTC presents the formula to you: Princeton (undefeated in conference) splits with Cornell and both win the rest of their games (not impossible) forcing a playoff as both teams would finish conference play at 13-1. Princeton wins the playoff and gets the automatic bid and the Big Red gets an at-large, as ESPN shows the jubilation in Ithaca when Donahue and company see their name announced. This sets up an eventual rematch with Kansas at the Final Four. And to think the dream seemed so real.

The Gang(s) That Couldn’t Shoot Straight

Rick Pitino’s mantra has always been shoot the three, defend the three and I’ll see you at the Big Dance. It has worked for him at all four of his college coaching stops (BU, PC, Kentucky, and Louisville). The way the game is played these days, the emphasis on success from beyond the arc has never been greater even with the line being moved back. Let’s look at how the “three for the money theory” has played out during the first two full weekends of Ivy play. Over the course of those 16 games, the losing teams shot a combined 67-255 or 26% from 3-point range. Columbia and Dartmouth each had a 1-for-11 game vs. Harvard and Cornell respectively, while Penn shot an unparalleled 1-for-18 vs. Yale. The winners shot an aggregate 111-for-281 or 39.5%. Not surprisingly, Cornell led the way with an 11-for-27 clip vs. Dartmouth, 12-for-27 vs. Harvard, and 13-for-27 vs. Yale, proving they are a bunch of equal opportunity shooters. Broken down by game, the losers are averaging about 4-16 while the winners approximately 7-17, a difference of 9 points per game. Now, if only I had some eligibility left…..

One third of the way through the conference season, here is how RTC sees the Ivy League:

1. Cornell (6-0, 20-3): SRO in the locker room after games as Coach Steve Donahue has used an average of almost 16 players per game (19 vs. Dartmouth). Only Ivy coaches could remember that many names. The four victories have come by an average of more than 25 pts per game. After a tune-up at the Palestra against Penn tonight, the nationally ranked Big Red face Princeton on Saturday before a rematch with Harvard the following Friday – both on the road.

2. Princeton (4-0, 13-5): Their undefeated conference record has earned the Tigers the No. 2 spot in our bi-weekly power poll. More amazingly, the four victories have all come on the road – leaving only three games remaining away from home. Once again, defense has been the trademark with the Tigers allowing a mere 45 points per game in those wins. Jadwin Gym should be rocking this Valentine’s Eve (Ted officiating?) as Cornell comes calling.

3. Harvard (4-2, 15-5): Leapfrogged by Princeton thanks to a head-to head loss and the aforementioned disappointing performance vs. Cornell. We are guessing that they will be much better prepared for both rematches and at least one of the losses (most likely vs. Princeton) to be avenged. This team is too talented led by likely Ivy Player of the Year Jeremy Lin (17 points, four rebounds, and four assists per game) and the highly touted freshman class.

4. Yale (3-3, 9-14): One of two teams with a .500 record in conference completes the top half of the rankings. A home loss to Brown has been the only puzzling result and this Friday’s battle with traditional foe Harvard (a 29-29 tie perhaps?) should be the talk of New Haven. Alex Zampier’s 17.5 pts per game paces the Elis.

5. Penn (2-2, 3-15): The other team with a .500 record jumps two spots because as we know, it is the all-important loss column that counts. The ship appears to be somewhat righted thanks to the return to Ivy competition, the shortening of the bench by Jerome Allen, and the emergence of Dan Monckton as a complement to Zack Rosen. The junior has averaged over 11 pts over the last four games, including a controversial buzzer-beating tip-in vs. Brown.

6. Columbia (2-4, 8-12): Is Joe Jones headed for his fifth consecutive 7-7 Ivy season? To do so the Lions will have to overcome the injury bug that has plagued them, particularly to senior guard Patrick Foley, and an upcoming four-game road trip that includes stops at Princeton and Harvard. Columbia continues to be near the top of NCAA in 3-point shooting efficiency led by the marksmanship of Noruwa Agho (51.6%).

7. Brown (1-5, 7-16): The only thing keeping the Bears out of the cellar is Dartmouth. Five consecutive losses, albeit competitive ones, followed a promising conference- opening victory at Yale. Superman Matt Mullery leads the team in ppg (15.3), rebounds (6.0) assists (3.0), field goal percentage (55.3) and blocks (1.5).

8. Dartmouth (0-6, 4-16): After a close home loss to Harvard (in which they actually led in the second half) things have fallen apart for the Big Green. Their next four losses have been by an average of 16 points and their offense could not produce more than 51 points in any game. Coach Mark Graupe continues to look for a productive combination as no player is averaging more than 27 minutes or eight points per game. This Friday’s game vs. Brown could be the first of two basement battles.

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An Evening at NJIT…

Posted by rtmsf on February 4th, 2009

Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC Conferences.  When he’s not officiating, he’s canvassing the northeastern basketball circuit for good games and stories. 

NEWARK, NJ – The evening actually began in Jersey City. The other part of my basketball life as an official saw a JV Girls assignment at Lincoln High School. Pictured is the  pre-game captains meeting which is great because the kids on that level soak in your every word. For the record Saint Dominic Academy edged Lincoln in a close one.

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Off to the Prudential Center, a quick nine mile journey for Maryland Eastern Shore vs. NJIT. The Highlanders dropped a 4 point decision at UMES in early December so hopes were high for a second win in two weeks.  It was not to be on this night. UMES took a few eight point leads but NJIT would battle back. The Highlanders even took the lead with eleven minutes to go but UMES answered with a three point field goal followed by a conventional three point play to regain an edge not to be lost. NJIT battled gamely and had it to a two possession contest before UMES hit four free throws the final 30 seconds for the 73-67 win.

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Checking in on the… Ivy League

Posted by rtmsf on January 16th, 2009

David Zeitlin is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

Let’s see … what to report from the Ivy League from the last two weeks. Hmm. Cornell beat a team by 54 points. That’s fun – even though they did it to Division III Ursinus. What else? What else? Oh! Yale and Columbia both added to the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s record 50-game Division I losing streak. Good for them. And … I think that’s about– oh wait, I almost forgot! Harvard had probably its greatest win in school history while providing the Ivy League with its best moment in quite some time. That’s probably the big story of the week, right?

NBC Sports)
Amaker and Harvard Celebrate the Win Over BC (photo credit: NBC Sports)

When Harvard (9-6) pulled off that shocker over Boston College last week, however, it seemed like there were two overriding sentiments: One was that since B.C. had just beaten then-No. 1 North Carolina, then Harvard should be the new No. 1 team in the land. And two, how ’bout that Tommy Amaker, huh? While I agree that Harvard is the best team there ever was or ever will be, I am hesitant to heap all of the praise entirely on Amaker. Instead, I would like to take a moment to praise former coach Frank Sullivan, a very good man who had little success at Harvard but whose lasting legacy might be leaving the program with Jeremy Lin. Granted, Amaker has brought in a very talented freshmen class, and has probably instilled a newfound belief into his players, but Lin is simply playing at another level right now. Against Boston College, the junior guard scored a game-high 27 points while dishing out eight assists. Here are some highlights of Lin schooling the Eagles.

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A Lazy Sunday at MSG

Posted by rtmsf on December 22nd, 2008

Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the NEC and MAAC Conferences.  He attended the Aeropostale Holiday Festival on Sunday this past weekend.

NEW YORK CITY – The games on the ‘big stage’ are an event. The crowds, the media crush, the atmosphere which hints of March. Example as are the Jimmy V, Coaches vs.Cancer, Xavier-Duke at Izod Center. Granted the latter was a blowout but the stage was set.

Basketball Mecca
Basketball Mecca

Sunday gave a different scenario but a special one just the same. Noon, a snowy day in New York, two mid majors tipping it off at Madison Square Garden. Columbia and Marist met in the Aeropostale Holiday Festival consolation game. The crowd was sparse but enthusiastic. The play, not always the greatest but competitive and entertainingly enjoyable. “These games are always special,” said veteran AP college basketball writer Jim O’Connell. “Especially when two teams like this get a chance to play at a venue as this.”

The Garden, even a sparsely attended one, is still a big thing. Marist brought, count them, 23 cheerleaders. And a band as good as there is around. Columbia brought their entire cheer and dance squad.

We'll Be Nice and Make No Further Comment
We’ll Be Nice and Make No Further Comment

The game saw Columbia battle back from a 10 point second half deficit largely on the play of K.J. Matsui. The 6-2 senior drained two treys and took a charge, “he didn’t take charges prior to senior year,” joked coach Joe Jones, to ignite the run. The contest went down to the final seconds with the Lions prevailing 63-58.

A consolation game on a Sunday morning following a loss on Saturday, no problem per Columbia senior forward Jason Miller. “In our (Ivy) league we play a lot of conference games back to back,” Miller said. “I’m a senior, to get to play in the best arena ever is great. To play in Madison Square Garden is exciting. To win here even better.”

Marist coach Chucky Martin echoed the sentiment. “I’m a Bronx guy,” Martin said. “It’s great to coach and compete here. The only unfortunate part is not leaving the building with a win.”

The second game saw Virginia Tech defeat St. John’s 81-67 for the championship. Tech coach Seth Greenburg spoke about growing upon Long Island and coming to the city to watch Joe Lapchick coached  St. John’s teams compete in the Garden. “When you play here,” Greenburg said,  “you play in a way you respect the game.”

Greenburg knows. He’s in the ACC now but his roots are mid-major,  as a player at Fairleigh Dickinson University and later a head coach at Long Beach State. And he knows and appreciates how special is to get the privilege to play in Madison Square Garden.

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