Missouri Falls From the Unbeatens

Posted by Greg Mitchell (@gregpmitchell) on December 21st, 2013

The SEC lost its last unbeaten team Saturday night when Missouri fell to Illinois in a Braggin’ Rights thriller. The annual border rivalry game has a history of producing close finishes, and this year’s version was no exception. The Tigers hadn’t been tested away from Mizzou Arena before this game — they played in front of a home crowd against Hawaii in Kansas City, and no crowd at all in Las Vegas against Northwestern and Nevada. Missouri also faced the best defense it has seen thus far against Illinois (44.4 percent opponents’ effective field goal rate, 33rd in the country). Whether it was the environment, the defense, or Tracy Abrams breaking them down, the Tigers performed well but weren’t quite up for the test. Here are some quick thoughts on Missouri’s first loss of the season.

Jordan Clarkson carried Missouri in its loss to Illinois (photo courtesy stjosephpost.com).

Jordan Clarkson carried Missouri in its loss to Illinois (photo courtesy stjosephpost.com).

  • Jordan Clarkson is awesome. This was his first true showcase game on national TV (the UCLA game was an early morning start), and he must have turned some heads around the country (22 points, eight assists, six rebounds). Put simply, he’s already got NBA-quality moves attacking the rim. Illinois did a nice job controlling him off ball screens in the first half but Clarkson was able to continuously get in the paint in the second. A rash of Illinois fouls (the Illini were called for seven before Missouri got its first) made him especially difficult to guard. While he’s not a true point guard, he showed again that he can handle the position. He’s also a good attention-grabbing decoy. On two late Missouri possessions, Clarkson was able to penetrate, draw in the defense, and kick out for made threes by Earnest Ross and Jabari Brown.
  • Stretch 4′s could hurt the Tigers. Jon Ekey hit a gigantic three with under a minute left that Jonathan Williams III was late to close out on. This was a mini-theme throughout the game. Ekey and fellow Illinois big man Nnanna Egwu went a combined 4-of-7 from beyond the arc. Some of this was due to Missouri crashing in on ball screens to prevent Abrams and Rayvonte Rice’s penetration. Sweet shooting big men are also match-up nightmares by nature, but the Missouri forwards need to be aware when their counterparts leak out to the perimeter. Read the rest of this entry »
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Previewing Saturday’s UCLA/Missouri Contest

Posted by Greg Mitchell (@gregpmitchell) and Andrew Murawa (@AMurawa) on December 6th, 2013

In advance of UCLA’s visit to Missouri on Saturday morning, Pac-12 correspondent Andrew Murawa and his SEC counterpart Greg Mitchell had a few questions for each other about the teams they’ve been watching so far this year. Read on to find out all you’ll need to know about the intriguing intersectional matchup, with tips on  Saturday at 11:30 AM CST on CBS.

Andrew Murawa: Last year, UCLA fans were wowed by Phil Pressey’s playmaking ability in the Tigers’ loss at Pauley Pavilion. With Pressey now gone, who’s running the show for Mizzou and how does he stack up compared to Pressey?

Greg Mitchell: Pressey was a Keion Bell missed layup away from 20 assists in that game, and it would end up being his best statistical night of 2012-13. Tulsa transfer Jordan Clarkson is the Tigers’ new starting point guard, and he ended up at Mizzou because of a childhood friendship with Pressey. He brings a very different skill set to the table. Where Pressey broke defenses down with his speed, Clarkson can back down smaller guards because of his 6’5” frame. He doesn’t have the vision Pressey did (few in the sport do) but he is a much better finisher and scorer. He’s off to an excellent start, and looks for his shot far more than Pressey did: In fact, he is currently leading the SEC in field goal attempts.

Jordan Clarkson Is A Different Player Than Phil Pressey, But Maybe A More Efficient Player (Jordan Henriksen, AP Photo)

Jordan Clarkson Is A Different Player Than Phil Pressey, But Maybe A More Efficient Player (Jordan Henriksen, AP Photo)

AM: UCLA’s been on fire offensively and is currently ranked among the top 10 most efficient offensive teams in the nation. What can Missouri do to slow down the athletic UCLA offense?

GM: Defense hasn’t necessarily been Mizzou’s strong suit this season. The Tigers’ starting backcourt, however, is big and athletic. Clarkson, Jabari Brown, and Earnest Ross are all 6’5” and can bother opponents. West Virginia, which was on fire from three this season, was noticeably flustered by this length on Thursday night. The Tigers can also more or less switch effectively at all positions when forwards Jonathan Williams III and Tony Criswell are paired with those three.

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Big Ten M5: 10.19.12 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on October 19th, 2012

  1. Conference realignment doesn’t always guarantee that traditional rivalries will continue in the future. But some schools have made a diligent effort to continue the rivalry games. Illinois and Missouri in particular have renewed their “Braggin’ Rights” game through 2017. Illinois has won 20 of the last 31 games in this series but has been dominated lately by the up-tempo Missouri teams. The rivalry game might not be at the same level of Duke – UNC but it certainly has a great history and matters to both the programs as the annual game is held in St. Louis. Missouri will be the favorite to win this season as the Tigers have been ranked in several Top 25s, while Illinois is just trying to recover from a disastrous season that ended up with a 17-15 record.
  2. Minnesota coach Tubby Smith may lose one of his star players again for an extended period during the season. Forward Trevor Mbakwe is scheduled for a probation hearing on Friday and may potentially face additional jail time. Mbakwe is on probation in Florida for an assault charge from 2009. The redshirt senior was arrested earlier this summer for a DUI which forced Smith to question his status on the team for the upcoming season. Mbakwe was awarded a medical redshirt after missing most of last season with an injury but may not be allowed to play a full season (if any) if sentenced for jail time on Friday. Smith has not had a full season where one of his star players stayed out of trouble off the court or stayed healthy in a couple of seasons.
  3. Ohio State’s Aaron Craft understands that you don’t always need to put up 15-20 points per game to have an impact on the game. Craft is considered to be one of the best defenders in the game and approaches basketball from a different angle than most other players. He talked to Sporting News about why basketball is a thinking man’s game. The junior guard only averaged 8.8 PPG last season but his value to Ohio State may not be measured using any statistics. He can dictate the tempo of the game and control the direction of the game by forcing key turnovers throughout. Craft has been working on his offensive game during the offseason and will be expected to look for his shot a little bit more than the past with the departures of Jared Sullinger and William Buford.
  4. Last weekend, top 30 recruit Xavier Rathan-Mayes passed over Illinois to play for Leonard Hamilton at Florida State. A few days later, another top 50 recruit passed over another Big Ten school, this time Michigan State, to play at Missouri in 2013. Jonathan Williams III, a 6’8″ forward, will play at Missouri rather than for Tom Izzo. Williams’ commitment could have helped Izzo in convincing the top high school recruit, Jabari Parker, to come to East Lansing next season. Parker is scheduled to visit Michigan State this weekend, his first visit out of the five schools over the next month. He is supposed to announce his decision in mid-December.
  5. Speaking of recruiting,  Tom Crean continues to be active on the recruiting trail despite having the best team in America per the preseason rankings. Five-star recruit Noah Vonleh has trimmed his final list of potential schools to six and Indiana is one of those institutions. Vonleh is a top 20 recruit in the Class of 2013 and will visit Bloomington in November. His other schools are Connecticut, Ohio State, Georgetown, North Carolina and Syracuse. All-American Cody Zeller will probably leave for the NBA after this season and a top recruit like Vonleh should keep Tom Crean’s foundation strong in Bloomington as he marches towards reviving Indiana as a perennial powerhouse program again in college hoops.
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Checking In On… the NEC

Posted by rtmsf on February 18th, 2012

Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences.

Reader’s Take

 

Opening Tip

A week to go. Barring upsets, LIU Brooklyn appears set for the top seed. They own a one-game lead over Wagner but swept the Seahawks in their two meetings. In the postseason tournament, don’t count out Danny  Hurley’s club. Nor Robert Morris or St. Francis (NY). Yes, one more week before the fun really starts.

Standings

Team, NEC record, overall record:

LIU 14-1, 20-7
Wagner 13-2, 22-4
Robert Morris 11-4, 20-8
St. Francis (NY) 11-4, 14-12
Quinnipiac 8-7, 15-11
Central Connecticut St. 8-7, 11-14
Sacred Heart 7-8, 13-15
Monmouth 7-8, 9-19
Mount St. Mary’s 5-10, 7-19
St. Francis (PA) 4-11, 5-21
Fairleigh Dickinson 1-14, 2-24
Bryant 1-14, 2-25

Notables

NEC Co-Players of the Week:

  • Jamal Olasewere, LIU, 6’7″, Jr., F– Averaged 26.5 points and 11 rebounds. Posted his eighth double-double of the season with a 21-point, 11-rebound outing in the win over St. Francis (NY) at Madison Square Garden.

Jamal Olasewere (ball) Had An Outstanding Week (AP)

  • Shane Gibson, Sacred Heart, 6’2″, Jr., G – Averaged 32 points while shooting a blistering 63% from the field. Gibson hit 30 points in the first meeting with Bryant which also allowed him to break the single season scoring record (542 points) for Sacred Heart since they moved to Division I.

NEC Rookie of the-Week:

Ousmane Drame, Quinnipiac, 6’9″, Fr., F – Averaged a solid nine points, eight rebounds and two blocks in a 2-0 week for the Bobcats. Drame has averaged 10.4 rebounds over the last six games and is seventh in the NEC (7.3 RPG) in that category.

Team Recaps

  1. LIU Brooklyn – Swept rival and Brooklyn neighbor St. Francis (NY).  Blackbirds have won five straight and 14 of the last 15 in the series. Julian Boyd had double-doubles in both games. Jamal Olasewere was named MVP of the Battle of Brooklyn for his career high 32 points. Blackbirds are second in the nation with 28.2 free throw attempts per game.
  2. Wagner – Continued the winning ways by sweeping Mount St. Mary’s. Seahawks hit the 20-win mark for the sixth time in the school’s 91-year basketball history. Wagner also clinched a playoff berth and guaranteed a first round home game. Jonathon Williams led Wagner with a 16.5 points per game and shot 72% shooting from the floor. Senior Tyler Murray also contributed a 12.5 PPG week. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the NEC

Posted by rtmsf on February 3rd, 2012

Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences.

Reader’s Take

 

Opening Tip

The general consensus is that LIU Brooklyn and Wagner are the top two teams in the conference. With less than a month remaining in the regular season, however, there are five programs with a legitimate shot at the top. Keep an eye on LIU vs. St. Francis (NY) at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. It is a St. Francis “home” game and it gives the Terriers another opportunity to achieve a statement victory.

Standings

Team, MAAC record, overall record:

LIU 10-1, 16-7
Wagner 9-2, 18-4
St. Francis (NY) 9-2, 12-10
Robert Morris 7-4, 16-8
Central Connecticut St. 7-4, 10-11
Quinnipiac 5-6, 12-10
Monmouth 5-6, 7-17
Sacred Heart 4-7, 10-14
Mount St. Mary’s 4-7, 6-16
St. Francis (PA) 4-7, 5-17
Fairleigh Dickinson 1-10, 2-20
Bryant 1-10, 2-21

 

NEC Player of the Week:

Shane Gibson, Sacred Heart, 6’2″, Jr., G – Averaged 30.5 points per game last week to increase his NEC scoring average to 21.6 points per game. Gibson shot 51% from the field and added 5.0 rebounds and 2.5 steals for the Pioneers in their two games. Gibson ranks fourth nationally in scoring and is averaging 26.1 points in NEC action.

Sacred Heart's Shane Gibson Is Making A Great Case For Player of the Year (AP)

NEC Rookie of the Week:

Ousmane Drame, Quinnipiac, 6’9″, Fr., F – Averaged 8.5 points, and12 rebounds for the week. Drame posted career-highs with 13 points and 15 rebounds in a comeback overtime win over Mount St. Mary’s.

Team Overviews

  1. LIU Brooklyn – On the conference’s “Western” swing, the Blackbirds lost at Robert Morris and defeated St. Francis (PA). Before that loss to Robert Morris, LIU had won 18 (21 including the tournament) straight NEC games dating back to last season. Julian Boyd scored 25 points and  added 12 rebounds against the Colonials. Jamal Olasewere enjoyed his seventh double-double of the season with a 26-point, 10-rebound outing at St. Francis. Jason Brickman added 12 assists. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the NEC

Posted by rtmsf on January 21st, 2012

Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences.

Reader’s Take

 

Looking Back

There is still over half a conference season to play. But, on Saturday on Staten Island, a very important and interesting matchup is on tap: Long Island Brooklyn versus Wagner. The two met in Brooklyn in December with the Blackbirds earning a narrow 78-73 victory. Since then, Jim Ferry’s club has captured nine of 11 and is unblemished in NEC play. Meanwhile, Wagner has won nine of its last 10. Included are victories at Pitt and the championship of the Cable Car Classic. The only setback for Danny Hurley’s group was a one-point loss to a good Lehigh team in early December. Yes, an enticing meeting and somehow we get the feeling it just might not be  the last between these teams this season.

NEC Co-Players of the Week

  • Julian Boyd, LIU, 6’7″, Jr., F: Boyd hit his 1,000th career point and led the way with 21 points average per game as the Blackbirds swept their two NEC games to move into sole possession of first place. Boyd highlighted the week, scoring 28 points adding eight rebounds in the win over Monmouth.
  • Shane Gibson, Sacred Heart, 6’2″, Jr., G: The NEC’s leading scorer, Gibson averaged 27.5 points per game for the week. In a win at St. Francis (PA), Gibson scored 26 points but showed his versatility with five steals and five rebounds. Gibson also had seven 3′s and 29 points against Robert Morris.

Julian Boyd Will Be A Key Player In LIU's Big Tilt Against Wagner

NEC Rookie-of-the-Week

Jalen Cannon, St. Francis (NY), 6’6″, Fr., F: Averaged 11.5 points and 12 rebounds as the Terriers swept their NEC opposition. St. Francis has won four of five since Cannon was inserted into the starting lineup.

Standings

Team, MAAC record, overall record:

LIU 7-0, 13-6
Wagner 6-1, 15-3
Central Connecticut 6-1, 9-8
Robert Morris 5-2, 14-6
St. Francis (NY) 5-2, 8-10
Sacred Heart 3-4, 9-11
St. Francis (PA) 3-4, 4-14
Quinnipiac 2-5, 9-9
Mount St. Mary’s 2-5, 4-14
Monmouth 2-5, 4-16
Bryant 1-6, 2-16
Fairleigh Dickinson 0-7, 1-17

 

Power Rankings

  1. LIU Brooklyn – Earned a sweep over FDU and Monmouth. Blackbirds have won 16 consecutive conference games dating back to last season and have captured 22 of their last 23 in the NEC. Julian Boyd had an outstanding week earning Co-Player of the Week honors. C.J. Garner, a junior guard, set career highs with nine rebounds against FDU and eight assists versus Monmouth. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the NEC

Posted by rtmsf on December 9th, 2011

Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences.

 

Looking Back

The pre-2012 portion of the Northeast Conference schedule didn’t give us a whole lot to discern, with a couple of exceptions. Defending conference champ Long Island will once again be a tough out for rival foes. Central Connecticut State appears to be a threat with more players stepping up to help standout guard Ken Horton. Robert Morris has its young talent playing well and Wagner, despite having the “luck” to open the conference season at LIU, gave the host Blackbirds all they could handle. At the start of the season, I labeled Wagner (7-2) as a dark horse for the NEC title. Now, they are getting referenced in the same sentence as “contender.”

Leading Off: On December 6, Wagner defeated a talented Hofstra squad (58-43) in Staten Island, signaling another solid non-conference win for Danny Hurley and company. Meanwhile, King Rice earned win number one on the season as Monmouth nipped Navy (69-67) in Annapolis on Tuesday.

Player of the Week:  Ken Horton, 6’8″ Sr. F, Central Connecticut State – Has averaged 31 points in the Blue Devils’ two NEC games so far, highlighted by an impressive 32-point outburst against Bryant. Horton was dangerously effective inside (nine rebounds) and out (6 of 10 from three).

Rookie of the Week: Lucky Jones, 6’5″ Fr.  G/F., Robert Morris – Jones averaged 12.0 points and 6.5 rebounds in the Colonials’ two wins. Ironically, a product of New Jersey and famed high school national power St. Anthony’s, Jones face off against the Garden State’s two NEC schools.

Central Connecticut State's Ken Horton is averaging a conference-best 22.5 points per game so far this season (ccsubluedevils.com)

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Checking In On… the NEC

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 24th, 2011

Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences.

Looking Back

Early-season returns proved Long Island will have some challenges if they hope to defend their Northeast Conference crown. Wagner is off to a good start with a competitive loss at Connecticut being their only blemish so far. Robert Morris likewise, is fast out of the gate. Central Connecticut found some scorers which will make them a more dangerous club and take pressure off their senior do-everything star Ken Horton. Quinnipiac found another tough rebounder and will prove again to be a force under the glass. St. Francis (NY) lost at Seton Hall in overtime and the Terriers have struggled thanks to some late game  problems.

Player of the Week: Ike Izotam, 6’7” So. F, Quinnipiac – Averaged 16 points and 16 rebounds in a 2-0 week for the Bobcats. Izotam is tied for first in the nation and leads the NEC in rebounding with 14.0 per game.

Rookie of the Week: Kyle Vinales, 6’4” guard, Central Connecticut – In a 39 point outburst against Niagara, Vinales scored 29 in the first half, including 16 in the game’s opening six and a half minutes. That performance marked the most points by a player in this young season.

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