Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences as well as an occasional contributor.
NEWARK, NJ – North Carolina, UConn, Siena… It just occurred that some of the strange goings-on lately can be attributed to a jinx. Namely with yours truly and Rush the Court. Oh, don’t read this wrong. I love my association with RTC . I enjoy the work as a Northeast Conference and MAAC correspondent. Also enjoy the occasional side article the opportunity affords to produce.
Every other week a recap is submitted on the Northeast Conference and MAAC; besides that is an occasional article of general interest. In November at Coaches vs. Cancer one of my features was on the North Carolina cheerleaders. Well, you can see what has transpired in Chapel Hill these past few weeks. Over Thanksgiving another one of my articles was a profile on the UConn cheer/spirit program. Watching the Huskies effort against Cincinnati on Saturday all I could think was NIT. How about UNC-UConn at the Garden in an NIT semi? It could happen.
Twice last year I wrote about officiating Richard Codey’s basketball games. Codey is a basketball devotee, a coach and was the New Jersey Senate leader. Was is the key word. He no longer heads the Senate.
Friday morning I sent my MAAC wrap-up across several time zones (with no Rick Majerus-like complaints of the cyberspace road trip). At the beginning I noted how the MAAC tournament in March will be “Siena’s to lose.” The undefeated Saints have the experience, talent, coaching and location. That evening Siena went out and lost at Niagara. On seeing the score I thought I was to blame. On second thought I did not officiate their game nor did I drive the team bus to Niagara Falls, Ontario, and not NY by mistake. None of those things happened, so in other words the game had a great crew and I’m sure Fran McCaffery’s club arrived well-rested and prepared to play. What happened? A quick tempo free look…
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The Purple Eagles scored their 87-74 victory because they were almost unconscious from the floor and cared for the ball with a great turnover rate. Niagara also moved the ball extremely well with 22 assists on 33 field goals and shot 26 of 40 (65%) from two-point range. Joe Mihalich’s club all appeared to follow the lead of sophomore forward Kalief Edwards , a 7 PPG scorer, who shot 9-14 from the floor for a 20-point night.
So forget the jinx. In Siena’s as well as Carolina’s and UConn’s case as well. Just one thing. At the Big East-SEC Challenge at the Garden in December I met and chatted with the Kentucky cheer squad. Even took a picture with them. Still, no one asked about getting an article done about them. Guess they knew better. Didn’t want to jeopardize a deep run in the NCAAs next month.