Conference Tournament Primer: Horizon League

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on March 4th, 2014

Championship Fortnight is under way, and what better way to get you through the next two weeks of games than to break down each of the Other 26′s conference tournaments as they get started. Today, the Horizon League and Atlantic Sun tip things off.

Dates: March 4, 7, 8, 11
Site: First Round: Campus sites; Quarterfinals and Semifinals: Resch Center (Green Bay, WI); Championship: Campus site (higher-seeded team hosts)


What to expect: Green Bay was far and away the best team in the regular season, amassing a 24-5 overall record and notching a high-profile non-conference victory over ACC regular season champion Virginia. Led by 7’1’’ center Alec Brown — an NBA prospect with an outside shot — and high-flying point guard Keifer Sykes, the Phoenix should take care of business on their home floor. Brian Wardle’s bunch has been playing some of its best basketball of the season since losing to Milwaukee in early February, securing four its final five wins on the road and dominating opponents by more than 15 points per contest. Still, watch out for Cleveland State and its lights-out three-point shooting — fourth-best in the country at 40.8 percent — as well as defending champion Valparaiso; the Crusaders took down Green Bay earlier in the year. The top seed stumbling at home is not unprecedented for this tournament, but seems unlikely this time around.

Favorite: Green Bay. The team is confident, talented and playing at home. Put simply, anything short of a championship would be hugely disappointing for the Phoenix.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big East Morning Five: 12.01.11 Edition

Posted by mlemaire on December 1st, 2011

  1.  With star forward Tim Abromaitis left to “live life” and ponder whether his basketball career is over, Notre Dame is in a lot of trouble without him. His replacement, freshman Pat Connaughton (11 points), was actually one of the Fighting Irish’s best players in last night’s 20-point loss to No. 19 Gonzaga. Point guard Eric Atkins had six points on 2-8 shooting and six turnovers, and senior leader Scott Martin went 0-6 from the field and scored just one point. Without their star in the lineup, Notre Dame’s offense sputtered and don’t be surprised if that is a recurring problem in the short term. Jerian Grant and Connaughton are solid young players, but Atkins has disappeared against every decent opponent and Martin is a solid role player but not someone who can shoulder the offensive load. It might be a long season for coach Mike Brey in South Bend.
  2. I am not buying Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Gene Collier when he says the city-game between Pittsburgh and Duquesne doesn’t need to be played. Collier claims the game is never competitive and it has become little more than a “respectful little social event.” For one, it’s curious when juxtaposed with the paper’s game recap, in which the lede pretty much says it was the most competitive game in 11 years. The game hasn’t been must-see TV in the past, but this game was competitive and did nothing to assuage the doubt enveloping Pitt. The Panthers committed 23 turnovers but dominated the boards 39-15, including 16 on hte offensive end. Plus, what “respectful little social event” doesn’t sound like a good time, no matter the final score?
  3. With the scored tied at halftime, South Florida was in good shape against VCU. Then the Rams raced out to a 51-35 lead early in the second half and they never looked back. Stan Heath’s team has been snakebitten by injuries and seldom-used sophomore LaVonte Dority played just one minute tonight because of shoulder trouble.  The Bulls barely have seven healthy players on the roster and they won’t be competitive until center Augustus Gilchrist returns to the lineup. I hope Stan Heath isn’t getting too comfortable in that coaching seat, because his job is in jeopardy and these injuries aren’t going to help him save it. At this point, South Florida will have to find some sort of magic is Heath is going to be back on the bench next season.
  4. Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician has the story that the universally hated and notorious publicity hounds of the Westboro Baptist Church will be picketing Saturday’s Syracuse-Florida basketball game. I am not going to link to the press release, as you can find that yourself, but this is the type of distraction the Orange will face all season long in light of the Bernie Fine scandal and it will be especially magnified in high-profile games between ranked teams. As for the game, it should be a good matchup and Syracuse’s first real test this season. Florida has played exactly one respectable opponent, and they lost by seven to Ohio State. It will be fun to watch Florida’s guards try to fill it up against Syracuse’s deep rotation of long and athletic defenders.
  5. Lots of interesting opinions to chew on in the ESPN post explaining Alex Oriakhi‘s displeasure with his role in the Connecticut offense. Some seem to think that one of the team’s best players during the Huskies’ run to the championship should be coming off the bench.  It is an interesting argument given the versatility of Tyler Olander and Andre Drummond but I think as the season goes on, Jim Calhoun will need Oriakhi to play major minutes, especially against conference opponents. Of course if that is going to happen, Oriakhi is going to need to grow up and act like the veteran he is. If he wants to prove his worth, he will need to play better on both ends of the floor, and change his attitude as well.
Share this story