Playing Their Way: On American’s Slow Pace

Posted by Ray Curren on December 29th, 2014

American sophomore Charlie Jones was wide open when he got the ball in the right corner in the first half last Tuesday night at Stony Brook, the Eagles’ final non-conference game before beginning defense of their Patriot League title on Wednesday at Bucknell. Of course, “open” can be surprisingly subjective in the college basketball world. And although Jones has started 10 of 12 games this season, made more than 50 percent of his field goal attempts, and didn’t appear to have any immediate impediment to a 15-footer, he faked and kicked the ball back out. After all, there were still 25 seconds left on the shot clock, and by the high standards Mike Brennan and American have set, Jones wasn’t nearly open enough.

Mike Brennan

Mike Brennan, in His Second Year, Already Has a PL Title

Love it or hate it – and opponents usually fall into the latter category – slow and steady won the Patriot League race last season, with the coda coming in a 56-possession masterpiece, a 55-36 Patriot Tournament final win over Boston University in which American only attempted 34 field goals (but made 19). Making the title even more remarkable, American had been picked ninth in the preseason poll with a first-year leader who had no previous head coaching experience.

Even though Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year Tony Wroblicky graduated in May, American (7-5) is not going to fool the conference this season, picked by the league coaches to repeat the feat. With another year to implement his Princeton offense, Brennan has responded in kind by playing even slower. The Eagles are dead last (351st) nationally in adjusted tempo, more than a possession better (or worse?) than Wyoming at 350th. They opened the season with a plodding 40-37 near-upset of Temple, and their last two games — a win over Mount St. Mary’s and last week’s loss to Stony Brook — were two of the five slowest games in Division I this season.

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RTC Summer School: Mountain West Conference

Posted by AMurawa on August 14th, 2012

Over the next couple of week’s we’ll be checking in with each of the high mid-major leagues as to their mid-summer offseason status. Up next: the Mountain West.

Drew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Mountain West Conference. You can also find his musings on Twitter @amurawa.

Three Summer Storylines

  • Tectonic Movement Continues. For the second straight year, the landscape of the MW shifts. Last year it was BYU and Utah heading off to greener pastures with Boise State landing in their place. This year TCU is on its way out the door with Fresno State and Nevada on their way in. And next year Boise State and San Diego State will depart with San Jose State and Utah State coming in. All in all, this will still be a good basketball conference even after all these moving parts settle, but the loss of a rapidly improving Aztec program will be tough for MW fans to take. TCU and Boise State certainly aren’t major losses on the basketball side, but the strength of their football programs could have provided stability for the conference and the potential for improved programs on the hardwood. Between the four newcomers, each of Fresno State, Nevada and Utah State have had good runs over the course of a handful of years, but they’ll all need to prove their ability to compete with more established programs like UNLV and New Mexico, while SJSU figures to step directly into the basement of the conference.

  • The Mtn. Crumbles. On May 31, The Mtn., the Mountain West’s television network, went dark, ceasing all operations after six years. Now, say what you will about the network, a channel that eschewed HD programming, struggled with distribution and had issues with their on-air talent, but the shuttering of its doors leaves some questions for MW hoops fans. In the era of The Mtn., if you wanted to follow MW hoops, it was easy to do so. Now, it remains to be seen exactly how much exposure teams from this conference will get during the year. Sure, the MW still has deals in place to get games shown on NBC Sports Network and CBS Sports Network, but what about that Air Force/Boise State game on some random February Wednesday? Should you want to watch that game and you’re not in Idaho or Colorado, odds are pretty good you’re going to be out of luck.
  • Continued Success? For all the uncertainty about the membership of the conference, the last three years have been something of the golden age of Mountain West basketball. In the past three seasons, the MW has received 11 NCAA Tournament berths. Two years ago there were dual Sweet Sixteen appearances by BYU and SDSU. We’ve had Jimmer and Kawhi grab national headlines, while other guys like Dairese Gary and Darington Hobson, Billy White and Drew Gordon, D.J. Gay and Hank Thorns, Andy Ogide and Malcolm Thomas have kept us all entertained. But, even with all of those players now gone, there is still plenty to be excited about in the conference. San Diego State and UNLV lead the way again, with both expected to start the season in the preseason Top 25. New Mexico and Colorado State, who joined the Aztecs and Rebels in the Big Dance last year, both should be in the hunt for another tourney bid, while Nevada could be a sleeper in its first season in the conference. And, as always, we could be in for another surprise or two.

Reader’s Take #1

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