MAAC Wrap & Tourney Preview

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 4th, 2011

Ray Floriani of College Chalk Talk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC. Get set for the MAAC tournament, which starts on Friday, by taking a look at RTC’s preview and regular season recap.

Postseason Preview

Last year, it was Albany. The next three years, Springfield, Massachusetts. The MAAC is on the move. This season’s postseason tournament will be at Harbor Yards in Bridgeport, Connecticut.  The MAAC format is a unique one in that both the men’s and women’s tournaments are contested at the same site. This makes it easier for the fans and gives an opportunity to showcase each member’s program on both the men’s and women’s side.

The men’s tournament tips the evening of March 4, with both men’s and women’s finals the following Monday. The MAAC will be a one-bid league. Iona, Fairfield and Rider have impressive records, but not enough to get an at-large bid. The conference tournament will be winner-take-all and on to the Big Dance.

Fairfield coach Ed Cooley would be the first to admit home court advantage is nice, but it’s no guarantee. Any of the top four could emerge as champion. At any rate, a prediction must be made and the choice is Fairfield.  The Stags have a nice inside/outside combination. A 66 possession paced team, the offensive efficiency is moderate at 100 but the defense, an outstanding 89. Defensively, they force opponents to give up the ball on 25% of their possessions. With Derek Needham at the point, the Stags TO rate is an impressive 18%. The Stags also boast a plus-four edge in offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. Credit that to the presence of seven foot junior Ryan Orlander, 6’5 senior Yorel Hawkins and 6’5 freshman Maurice Barrow.

The MAAC, with Siena in recent seasons, has been represented well in the Big Dance. Fairfield, with good guard and interior play, could prove a tough first round matchup. A lot depends on the draw and how Fairfield and the opposition line up. The early season schedule had a few tough tests and they were away from home. Cooley wanted a team ready not just for the MAAC, but the challenges of post season as well.

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O26 Primers: CAA, MAAC, SoCon and WCC Tourneys

Posted by KDoyle on March 4th, 2011

RTC’s Kevin Doyle, author of the weekly column, The Other 26, and the Patriot League Correspondent, will be providing conference tournament previews for all non-BCS conferences.

As we near the weekend, more of the higher profile Other 26 conferences are beginning their postseason tournaments. In the east, the CAA, MAAC, and Southern Conference all get going with matinee affairs between Georgia State and UNC-Wilmington in the CAA and UNC-Greensboro and Davidson in the SoCon. Out west, the West Coast Conference kicks off their first round in what looks to be a very competitive tournament with St. Mary’s recent struggles and the resurgence of Gonzaga.

Colonial Athletic Association

The Favorite: Behind Cam Long and Ryan Pearson, George Mason has dominated the CAA and is the clear favorite to win the league. Old Dominion will be a tough challenger for the Patriots though.

Dark Horse: There have been many instances throughout the year that Virginia Commonwealth looks to be just as good as George Mason, but ending the year losing four straight games in the CAA will not instill confidence in many people. The Rams’ ability and talent is clearly there, and if they can string some wins together they can win the CAA championship.

Who’s Hot: George Mason winning 14 straight CAA games makes them easily the hottest CAA team.

Player to Watch: One of the most decorated players in Hofstra basketball history, Charles Jenkins is the best player to don a CAA uniform this year. The senior from Queens, NY is averaging 23.2 points per game.

First-Round Upset: William & Mary over James Madison. After having a very successful 2009-10 season, the Tribe has largely struggled this year, but is entering the CAA tournament having win two of three games. They have also split the season series with JMU this season winning the last game 73-67 and losing the first one 84-79.

How’d They Fare? Old Dominion, as a #11 seed, defeated Notre Dame 51-50 and then fell to Baylor in the second round.

Interesting Fact: The last time the CAA sent two teams to the NCAA Tournament was in 2007 when Virginia Commonwealth and Old Dominion went; it appears as if the CAA will be a multi-bid conference this year.

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Checking in on… the MAAC

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 2nd, 2011

Ray Floriani of College Chalk Talk is the RTC correspondent for the NEC and MAAC conferences.

A Look Back

The non-conference portion of the year, give or take a Bracket Buster or mid-season outlier, is in the books. Fairfield is a team that stood out against non-league opposition. Iona and Rider fared pretty well also.  All that aside, conference play is the major factor. Just after the new year the MAAC schedule, with two games in the books for each team already, gets into full force. Now is the team where teams that struggled early due to injuries, personnel changes or other reasons, make their moves. While a team as Fairfield is off to a solid start, they must be prepared and cast a wary eye on a host of contenders. It should be a fun race.

Power Rankings

1. Fairfield: (2-0, 9-3 overall) Defeated Holy Cross and Vermont to run the win streak to seven games. OE is a modest 98 but the defensive mark is an outstanding 86. Nearly a quarter (24%) of opposing possessions end in a turnover. The offensive rebound margin is a healthy 36-31% edge in favor of the Stags.

Notable: Yorel Hawkins scored ten points and grabbed ten rebounds against Vermont. It was the sixth double-double of Hawkins’ career.

2. Iona: (2-0, 8-5 overall) Snapped a two game losing streak by defeating Hofstra at the Hynes Center. A 73-possession team, the Gaels have an outstanding offensive efficiency rating of 109. The 100 on defense is credible as well. A 19% TO rate and 54% eFG mark solidify the offense. Despite a good defensive number, opponents enjoy a 52% eFG mark.

Notable: Junior guard Scott Machado scored 17 points, pulled down five rebounds and added four assists against Vermont. Machado leads the nation with 8.3 assists per game.

3. St. Peter’s: (2-0, 7-6 overall) Had a five-game win streak snapped by consecutive losses at Rutgers and Lehigh. OE is still low at 87, but the defense, an efficient 93, is keeping the Peacocks competitive as a ‘tough out.’ A TO rate of 23% is not helping the offense. John Dunne’s club is currently a deliberate 62-possession team.

Notable: Sophomore guard Stephen Samuels led St.Peter’s with 14 points at Rutgers. Bad news dominates as Ryan Bacon (ankle) and Wesley Jenkins (hyper-extended knee) are out for two and three weeks, respectively.

4. Marist: (2-0, 2-10 overall) The Red Foxes are in the midst of a four-game tailspin. Defensive efficiency is 109, much higher than acceptable. Marist is not exerting significant ball pressure, as opponents have a 16% TO rate. Offensive efficiency is 87 with only two contests 100 or more.

Notable: Redshirt freshman swingman Anell Alexis is one of the most dependable foul shooters in the MAAC with an .875 (42-48) free throw percentage.

5. Rider: (1-1, 9-5 overall) On a three game win streak with the most recent conquests coming from road wins at LaSalle and Howard. Broncs sport a 108 offensive efficiency and hit a season-high 127 against Howard. Defense is impressive with a DE of 96. Opposition TO rate is a modest 20%, but the defensive eFG mark is an impressive 45%.

Notable: MAAC Player of the Week, Novar Gadson. The 6’7 swingman tied a career high with 25 points in the win at LaSalle, in Gadson’s native Philadelphia.

6. Siena: (1-1, 4-8 overall) The Saints scored a big win against Georgia Tech at home before losing a ‘Franciscan Cup’ meeting at St. Bonaventure. Siena’s giving up 100 DE on that end. The opposition is hitting an eFG percentage of 50 while the Bonnies enjoyed a 56% mark in that contest. Saints had their second highest OE of 117 in that game but gave up their highest, a 123.

Notable: Ryan Rossiter continues to excel. The senior center/forward averages 20 points and 13 rebounds per game. Rossiter battled off a sinus infection and eye injuries to score a game high 19 points in the win over Georgia Tech.

7. Canisius: (0-2, 6-6 overall) Defeated Lamar 78-72 on the road to snap a two-game losing streak. The 72-possession pace might be too fast as the TO rate offensively is 23%. On the season, the defensive efficiency is 100 but the last three opponents have reached 100 or more.

Notable: Senior Elton Frazier scored 22 against Lamar. Frazier leads Canisius with 13.5 points per game and 7.5 rebounds an outing.

8. Loyola: (0-2, 4-8 overall) Dropped games at Howard and at home against Bucknell. Greyhounds are on a three-game slide. Offensive efficiency is 96 but the last two games saw Loyola fail to reach 100. Offensive rebounding rate is a positive. Loyola’s OREB percentage is 36% while the opposition is 29%.

NotableJustin Drummond, took home MAAC Rookie of the Week honors. Drummond went off for 21 against Georgetown and followed it up with 15 versus Howard. Drummond leads Loyola in scoring with a 12.7 per game norm.

9. Niagara: (0-2, 3-11 overall) Losses to Quinnipiac and Drexel have extended the losing streak to three games. Purple Eagles still push the pace (72 possessions) and enjoy a 19% TO rate. The OE however is a paltry 89. On defense, the efficiency is a too generous 108 while the opposing eFG mark is 51%.

Notable: Freshman guard Marvin Jordan tied a career high with 17 points against Quinnipiac. Four Purple Eagles scored in double figures in that contest.

10. Manhattan: (0-2, 2-10 overall) Jaspers are in a 10-game losing streak. Their offensive efficiency is 91. In their two wins (over NJIT and Penn) they broke 100 for OE. On the defensive side, the efficiency is 109. Opposition has only an 18% TO rate which hints at average ball pressure applied by the Manhattan defense.

Notable: Sophomore guard George Beamon led the Jaspers with 18 points in a loss to Bowling Green. Beamon has posted a double-double in ten of Manhattan’s first 12 games.

A Look Ahead

January 3

  • Manhattan at Rider
  • Canisius at St. Peter’s
  • Iona at Siena
  • Marist at Loyola
  • Niagara at Fairfield

January 5

  • Marist at Princeton

January 7

  • Siena at Canisius
  • Loyola at Manhattan
  • St.Peter’s at Iona
  • Fairfield at Marist
  • Rider at Niagara

January 9

  • Rider at Canisius
  • Siena at Niagara
  • Marist at Manhattan
  • Loyola at Iona
  • St. Peter’s at Fairfield
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Set Your Tivo: 12.13.10

Posted by Brian Otskey on December 13th, 2010

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

Tonight begins a week of almost nothing of significance in the college basketball world. Many schools have finals this week resulting in the annual light schedule for this week.  All rankings from RTC and all times eastern.

Florida Atlantic @ Siena – 7:30 pm on Time Warner Cable Sports (*)

Siena enters the game at 2-6 coming off three straight losses. The Saints were expected to contend at the top of the MAAC but they’ve looked ordinary so far. It would be foolish to write them off however as they have quality talent for a mid-major league, talent that’s experienced for the most part. Surprisingly, Siena is 0-4 at home under the direction of first year head coach Mitch Buonaguro. He does have two star players though as Ryan Rossiter and Clarence Jackson are back for their senior seasons in upstate New York. Rossiter has been outstanding, averaging 20/13. Those 13 rebounds are good enough for second in the country behind Kenneth Faried of Morehead State. A key matchup in this game will be Rossiter against FAU’s Kore White who had 18/8 in a win at Mississippi State and was 5-8 from the floor in a victory over South Florida. At 6’8/245, White possesses the height and strength to bang with the 6’9/235 Rossiter. The Owls are 5-4 against D1 competition and have won three straight, including the wins against MSU and USF. They’re led by former St. John’s head coach Mike Jarvis who is trying to work his way back up the coaching ladder. Florida Atlantic takes good care of the ball, ranked eighth in offensive turnover percentage. They should win the turnover battle against a Siena team that averages 16 turnovers a game. Siena may be shorthanded as Owen Wignot missed their last game against Fairfield with a head injury. Wignot has been a valuable weapon, hitting 13 of his 21 three point attempts this season. Jarvis has a shooter of his own in leading scorer Gregg Gantt, averaging 15 PPG and 40% from three. The senior duo of Rossiter and Jackson should do most of the scoring for Siena and Rossiter should especially look to take advantage inside. FAU gives up 51% shooting from inside the arc on average but White should be able to contain him somewhat, at least you’d think so. This should be a pretty good game between two decent mid-major teams, despite Siena’s record.

Green Bay @ Wisconsin – 8 pm on Big Ten Network (*)

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Checking in on… the MAAC

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 4th, 2010

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

Looking Back

It is generally assumed the MAAC will be wide open – mo more chasing Siena. Well guess who’s in front after one game? Truth of it is the MAAC will be a great deal of fun for fans and media, a double dose of Advil for coaches. Fairfield is the favorite, but there will be several teams on their heels. Which all adds to upsets, surprises, scoreboard-watching and great fun… except at times for the coaches.

Players of the Week

  • Kyle Smyth, Iona – The sophomore guard had a 26-point first half en route to a career high 29 points in the win at Albany. Smyth tallied a school record eight treys in that game.
  • Ryan Rossiter, Siena – Rossiter averaged 19.3 PPG and 17.7 RPG over the last three games.

Rookie of the Week

Marvin Jordan, Niagara – In a four game stretch, the 5’11 guard averaged 12.5 PPG, 3.0 APG and 2.5 APG. His 17 points in a win over Bowling Green established a new career high.

Power Rankings

1. Siena (2-4, 1-0) – Not an easy road, as the Saints lost to Butler and Princeton (in overtime). Siena drew first blood in conference play with a nice road win at Rider, however. A 22% turnover rate illustrates some of the early difficulties at this point. Their efficiency margin is -1 (100 OE – 101 DE). Despite an uptempo (72 possessions) pace, the Saints are only forcing opponents into a 19% turnover rate.

Player of Note: Ryan Rossiter, who now has a Siena record with 37 career double-doubles.

2. Rider (2-4, 0-1) – Dropped two straight tough ones at home. After losing the conference opener against Siena on Friday, the Broncs were upended by Hofstra two days later. The Broncs sport a 104 offensive efficiency rate and an impressive 55% eFG percentage. They were however, under 100 in both setbacks last weekend. A 22% turnover rate (26% versus Hofstra) has been the root of their undoing in some close contests.

Player of Note: Junior Brandon Penn scored 14 points and added nine rebounds (both career highs) in the loss to Siena.

3. Loyola (3-2) – A loss at Vermont balances a win against Morgan State at home. The Greyhounds are solid defensively, with a 93 DE rating and not too bad on offense sporting an OE of 100. An 18% turnover rate helps the offense smooth while an opposing eFG mark of 44% is a defensive key. Loyola averages 69 possessions per outing but seems comfortable at varying tempos.

Player of Note: Sophomore forward Erik Etherly pulled down a game and career high 13 rebounds in narrow 51-48 setback at Vermont.

4. Canisius (3-2) – Earned a New York split last week, dropping an 81-64 decision to Buffalo at home before defeating Binghamton on the road. The Golden Griffs are holding the opposition to 95 defensive efficiency. Turnovers are noteworthy on both sides of the ball. Canisius forces opposition into a 22% turnover rate, but on their end, the turnover rate is exactly the same and affecting the offense. The weekend is highlighted by visits to Iona on Friday and Marist Sunday.

Player of Note: Senior forward Elton Frazier scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds in 19 foul-plagued minutes against Buffalo.

5. Iona (3-3) – The Gaels topped Albany and Norfolk State on the road to get to .500. They have a big weekend, hosting Canisius and Niagara. Iona holds opponents to a defensive efficiency rating of 98, but the defensive eFG mark is a too-generous 53.5%. Turnovers have offset that. Tim Cluess’ club is forcing opponents into a hefty 24% turnover rate.

Player of Note: Beside Kyle Smyth’s outburst, junior guard Scott Machado had scored 14 points, paired with a career high 15 assists against Albany.

6. Fairfield (2-3) – The Stags snapped a three-game losing streak with an easy win over Norfolk State in the Hoop Group Classic at the Palestra in Philadelphia. Defense has been sound with a 90.7 defensive efficiency rating. Offensive rebounding percentage has been a strength, leading opponents 35%-28%. The Achilles’ heel to date is a 45% eFG mark. Offensively, the OE rating is coming along at 95, thanks to an eye popping 132 in the 91-56 win over Norfolk.

Player of Note: Senior forward Warren Edney averaged 18 PPG the last two outings.

7. Niagara (2-4) – The Purple Eagles dropped road games to Albany and Detroit, but remain uptempo with 71 possessions per game. Niagara’s been stagnant on both sides of the ball, but at least they take care of the rock, sporting an 18% turnover rate. Still not enough to counter a 41% eFG mark and an offensive rebounding percentage deficit (OREB Pct – Opponents OREB Pct) of -10%, so eventually they’ll have to up their scoring output.

Player of Note: Beside Marvin Jordan’s noted exploits, junior forward Kashief Edwards was named to the Legends Classic Detroit Subregional All-Tournament team after averaging 14.7 PPG with 7.0 RPG.

8. Manhattan (2-4) – The Jaspers had a rough go of it at the Old Spice Classic, dropping three games. In battling Georgia closely, they eventually came up short, dropping a 61-58 matchup. Manhattan simply has trouble scoring; their pace is in the mid sixties possession-wise but the offensive efficiency of 91 and eFG percentage of 41% are woefully below par.

Player of Note: Sophomore forward George Beamon had a consistently strong line against Georgia, 14 points, ten rebounds, four steals and two blocked shots.

9. St. Peter’s (2-4) – As was the case last year, good defense, not so good offense. John Dunne’s club earned a nice win over Alabama at the Paradise Jam before coming home to defeat LIU, but took a step back with a loss at Seton Hall. The Peacocks’ OE is 80 while the DE is a more-than-acceptable 96. A return to form of Wesley Jenkins making his season debut against Long Island will help. Keeping Ryan Bacon, the main interior threat, out of foul trouble will also be a positive.

Player of Note: Jeron Belin, a senior forward, hit the game-winner against Alabama and had a team high 23 points against LIU.

10. Marist (0-6) - Another struggle, even in the early going. Red Foxes have dropped all six games by twenty points or more. The efficiency margin is a whopping -36, with the OE at 81 and defensive efficiency a too generous 118. On a bright note, the conference schedule tips off this weekend and both games (Niagara on Friday, Canisius on Sunday) are in the friendly confines of home, the McCann Center.

Player of Note: Redshirt freshman swingman Anell Alexis averaged a gritty 5.3 rebounds over three games since the last update.

A Look Ahead

  • December 4: Rider gets the unfortunate privilege of a trip to the Pete to face Pitt, while Manhattan takes on St. Peter’s.
  • December 5: Niagara and Iona square off while Loyola and Fairfield match up.
  • December 8: Loyola gets a crack at George Mason, but meanwhile in conference play, Niagara pays a visit to Buffalo.
  • December 10: Fairfield meets Siena, while St. Francis (NY) and Canisius battle out of conference.
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The Other 26: Week Two

Posted by jstevrtc on November 27th, 2010

Kevin Doyle is an RTC contributor.  For an introduction to this series, please click here.

Introduction

We are getting into the thick of the things as teams are now well into their non-conference slate. While many small-conference schools take their lumps at the hands of larger-conference opponents as often happens at this time of year, other are emerging as legitimate contenders within the world of the “Other 26.” At this point in most seasons the Maui Invitational controls much of the discussion within college basketball circles, and this year has been no different. The tournament encompasses some of the nation’s best teams, and for about a week the focal point of college basketball is the Lahaina Civic Center. Suited more for an AAU championship game than a premiere college basketball venue, the Civic Center witnessed one of the most dominating performances in the history of the Invitational. Averaging 30 points, missing only two of 28 free throws, and guiding the young Huskies to the title is the mark of a champion, and Kemba Walker did all of those. Walker’s first heroics of the Invitational came against Wichita State, who so nearly thwarted Connecticut’s chances at winning the Invitational on the first day. In the process, however, the Shockers garnered my full admiration in how they competed with some of the top teams in America. In the end, Kemba Walker and Connecticut prevailed, but Wichita State was heard and will continue to make noise throughout the year.

What team impressed the most?

Following a tough season-opening loss to Georgetown by three points, Old Dominion has run off four straight victories. Their wins were hardly against cupcake opponents either as two came against Clemson and Xavier (it should be known that both the Tigers and Musketeers have both fallen only to Old Dominion). It is a grave task for any opponent to combat the Monarchs’ attack as no one ODU player is far and away the most significant contributor. Frank Hassell is the team’s leader from a statistical perspective as he averages nearly a double-double and is an extremely efficient offensive player, shooting better than 60% from the field. Blaine Taylor, ODU’s coach, is the mastermind behind this balanced attack. Check out these numbers: six players are averaging between 5.5 and 8.8 shots a game, and seven players average between 4.2 and 12.6 points a game. While not a flashy team by any means, Old Dominion plays a true team game — a truce recipe for success come March.

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After the Buzzer: On 800 Wins, Internet Humility, and Fantastic Freshmen

Posted by jstevrtc on November 24th, 2010

Your Watercooler Moment. Yeesh, take your pick. On Wednesday morning the two games the majority of hoop aficianados were most looking forward to from Tuesday night will yield the headlines to a so-called undercard matchup between #3 Michigan State and Connecticut, the latter a team slated to be foraging for leftover scraps in the Big East this year. Jim Calhoun beamed after the effort shown by his players in knocking off the Spartans, saying after the game, “We proved to the world that we can play.” Also in Maui, the Kentucky vs Washington matchup was so intense they played through a freaking 4.7-on-the-Richter scale earthquake that nobody in the building seemed to notice centered 30 miles south-southwest of the island, and four time zones away, Duke gave Kansas State false hope for a half before turning out their lights and inscribing Mike Krzyzewski into the 800 victories book for a single school. Oh, and a game between Appalachian State and Tennessee Tech was cancelled because the former forgot to provide refs. All of this, a feast before the feast…on the day the Spectrum died.

Onward And Upward -- Coach K Earned His 800th Duke Win On Tuesday

Tuesday’s Quick Hits…

  • Connecticut Has A Pulse. And it’s strong. And its name is Kemba Walker. In 38 minutes of floor time in the Huskies’ capsizing of #3 Michigan State, Walker went 10-19 from the floor, 6-7 from the line, and added three boards, four assists, and three steals to his 30 points. Who cares that a kid’s getting up a shot every two minutes of game time when he’s producing like this?
  • Kyrie Lays It On. Kyrie Irving smoked Jacob Pullen as if the latter were a finely aged Cohiba Siglo. He took Pullen to the bucket several times, scored or got to the line, twice producing and-ones. Irving saw other defenders, but it was Pullen in front of him a good deal of the night; this matchup saw the freshman wood-shedding the senior to the tune of 17/5/6 asst/2 steals.
  • Unsung Wildcat Heroes, Take One. The talk will be about Terrence Jones‘ 16/17 (4-13 from the field) and Brandon Knight’s 24 points (he also had zero assists and eight turnovers), but the best line on the Wildcats’ side may have come from Josh Harrellson, the backup center many UK fans felt could barely qualify to be Enes Kanter’s personal assistant before the season. Harrellson had troubles with his handle, but in 34 minutes he contributed nine points on 4-6 shooting (one of those a trey), blocked two shots, and pulled in 14 rebounds, seven of them on the offensive end. DeAndre Liggins only added seven points and four rebounds, but he smothered UW’s Isaiah Thomas for most of the second half, frustrating him to no end (on which more in a bit).
  • Unsung Wildcat Heroes, Take Two. The only bright spot from KSU’s defeat was the play of their reserves. Four players — namely Curtis Kelly, Jamar Samuels, Martavious Irving, and Will Spradling — played at least 13 minutes (three of them were in for 20+), and they accounted for 47 of K-State’s 68 points, shooting 18-29 (62%) from the field. Could there be lineup changes in store for Frank Martin’s squad?

…and Misses.

  • Kalin, Not His Usual Ballin’. No particular player could be singled out as really letting MSU down, but Kalin Lucas would love another crack at this one. The Spartans actually shot better than UConn, but Lucas’ head-scratcher of a night consisted of a 4-12 shooting night, five turnovers and but a single assist. There won’t be many nights like this for Lucas this season.
  • The Sprint Center Floor. We had the privilege of being in the Sprint Center for the Big 12 Tournament last year. It’s a great arena for college basketball. Plenty of press seating, helpful staff, and even the distant seats in the stands aren’t bad. But for the O’Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic tonight, its floor had ten temporary logos on it, causing it to resemble one of those NASCAR automobiles (I guess they do race for the Sprint Cup, don’t they?) or a jersey from an Australian pro league team.
  • Smeared the Beard. Jacob Pullen not only got schooled by a freshman in terms of how many times he got taken to the hole, but he couldn’t hit an elephant with a handful of rice on Tuesday night. Pullen will not have many 1-12 nights this year, and likely none in which he also throws in a defensive clanger like he did on Tuesday. But big games like this are not the time for these rare occasions to occur for the facially hirsute and usually excellent senior.
  • Isaiah Was No Prophet. When the Maui brackets were released a few months ago, Isaiah Thomas tweeted that he was hoping his squad would run into Kentucky, a sentiment fueled by the bolting of recruits Kanter and Jones to UK after committing to UW. The Wildcats’ DeAndre Liggins intercalated himself into Thomas’ DNA on Tuesday, and as a result the UW guard was flummoxed into a 4-14 shooting night, two of those buckets coming as cosmetic late layups when UK let its defensive intensity slip a notch in hopes of not fouling.

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Set Your Tivo: 11.23.10

Posted by Brian Otskey on November 23rd, 2010

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

Two good games from both Kansas City and Maui involving six ranked teams lead tonight’s slate. Rankings as per the latest RTC Top 25. All times eastern.

Maui Invitational Semifinal: #3 Michigan State vs. Connecticut — 7 pm on ESPN (***)

It's Been Two Years Since These Teams Met in the F4

Each team played relatively close games yesterday. One was expected to, one was not. Connecticut got by Wichita State behind a 29-point second half from Kemba Walker. On the other hand, Michigan State actually trailed against Division II Chaminade for most of the first half and traded baskets with the Silverswords in the early part of the second half before pulling away with a 20-3 run and hanging on for an eight point win. Kalin Lucas was the star for the Spartans, scoring 28 points on 11-20 shooting. Lucas against Walker will be one of the better matchups of point guards you’ll see all season and it occurs here in late November. Walker is averaging 30 points in three games this year and is clearly Jim Calhoun’s go-to guy. Neither team played well defensively in their opening game in Maui but we don’t know if that can be attributed to the setting or maybe a lack of focus. Michigan State in particular, known for its tough defense and rebounding, had been playing well defensively coming into the game but gave up 46% shooting to Chaminade. This game will be a war on the boards as both coaches pride themselves on interior defense and rebounding. For Michigan State, the key could be shutting down Alex Oriakhi. Walker is going to get his share so if Tom Izzo’s big men can lock up the Connecticut sophomore big man, the Huskies will need someone else to step up because Walker won’t be able to do it all himself against a team as good as MSU. UConn is going to have to shoot the three ball very well in order to win, something Walker has struggled with throughout his career (35.3% this year however). Averaging 17 turnovers per game, the Spartans have to protect the ball against a Connecticut team that would like to get out in transition in order to prevent Michigan State from settling in on defense. Anything can happen in an early season tournament on a neutral floor but Michigan State should win this game.

CBE Classic Consolation: #23 Gonzaga vs. Marquette – 7:45 pm on ESPNU (****)

These two teams get together tonight heading in opposite directions. Gonzaga was flat out exposed, but not just by Kansas State last night. San Diego State also took care of the Bulldogs in the Kennel last week. Gonzaga has no clear point guard and that’s forcing Steven Gray to handle the ball much more than he should, often resulting in turnovers. Gray turned it over six times last night and as a team the Zags had 16 turnovers. Gonzaga also was dominated on the glass, not a good combination when you can’t stop anybody either. That was just the case as Kansas State shot 51% for the game. They now face a Marquette team brimming with confidence after a competitive loss to #1 Duke last night, a game we told you would be closer than you thought in this very feature 24 hours ago. MU was led by Jimmy Butler’s 22/6. We don’t know why people always underestimate Buzz Williams and his team as they have an awful lot of talent and looked like a top 25 team yesterday. Marquette may not actually be a top 25 team yet but they’re knocking on the door. A win tonight against Gonzaga should earn them some votes next week, if not actually make it in. The Golden Eagles turned Duke over 19 times, something that probably kept Mark Few tossing and turning in bed last night. Marquette needs a better outing from Darius Johnson-Odom and they should get it against the suspect Bulldog defense. The junior guard was just 1-6 from three and 4-15 overall. As a team, MU shot a dreadful 4-20 from deep, often leading to long rebounds and transition opportunities for Duke. One thing going for Gonzaga is their front court going up against Marquette’s interior. While they have defended fairly well in terms of two point FG% against, Mason Plumlee went off in the second half against the weaker Marquette bigs. Gonzaga has guys such as Robert Sacre who can score in the post and that will pose a problem for Buzz Williams. That said, we expect Marquette to turn Gonzaga over enough to win by getting more field goal opportunities. Gonzaga is not going to win many games against top competition until their point guard situation is under control.

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Checking in on… the MAAC

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 20th, 2010

Ray Floriani of College Chalk Talk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and the NEC.

Looking Back

For awhile, it appeared the top four contenders – Fairfield, Siena, St. Peter’s and Iona – would have one combined win. Iona, which had some hard luck at the World Vision Classic, broke into the win column with a hard-fought, attention-grabbing, 81-77 double OT win over Richmond at the Hynes Athletic Center. Scott Machado scored 28 for the Gaels but newcomer Michael Glover, a Seton Hall transfer, continues to impress with a 21 point, 17 rebound effort.

As the coaches dutifully note, it is early. Regardless, there are results in the book and trends beginning to emerge. like the addition of Glover into the Gael frontcourt.

Standings

  1. Manhattan          2-0
  2. Rider                    2-1
  3. Canisius               1-1
  4. Fairfield                1-1
  5. Loyola                  1-1
  6. Iona                      1-3
  7. Niagara                0-1
  8. St.Peter’s             0-1
  9. Marist                  0-2
  10. Siena                    0-2

    Player of the Week

    Ryan Rossiter, Siena – The 6’9 senior was chosen as preseason POY and got off to a quick start. Rossiter scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in an 80-76 loss to Vermont. It was Rossiter’s 18th double-double in his last 20 games dating back to last season.

    Rookie of the Week

    Michael Alvarado, Manhattan. The Jasper’s freshman guard scored 23 points in a 75-70 opening game win at NJIT. Alvarado was 12-5 from the line and logged the full forty minutes.

    Team-By-Team

    • Canisius stayed in-state over the weekend. The Griffs earned a split defeating St. Bonaventure (80-70) in the home opener on Friday before dropping a decision at Syracuse (86-67) on Sunday. Sophomore Gaby Belardo scored 19 against St. Bonaventure. It was the South Florida transfer’s first game in a Canisius uniform.
    • On media day, Fairfield coach Ed Cooley discussed how he thought the meeting at Rutgers would be an important early season game on Big East turf. The Fairfield mentor can take solace in the fact there will be other pre-conference challenges as the Stags were handed a 68-53 setback. Derek Needham led Fairfield with 14 points.
    • Iona got out of the gate 0-3. The Gaels dropped three tough ones in the World Vision Classic in Cleveland. They fell to host Cleveland State 78-68 and dropped last-second decisions to Kent State and Bryant. Seton Hall transfer Michael Glover had a strong debut for Iona averaging 18 points per game for the three contests.
    • Jamal Barney scored 21 points, but Loyola (MD) dropped a close 75-72 contest at home to Drexel. The visitors built an 18-point lead by midway of the first half before Loyola came back. The Greyhounds never drew even, with the closest margin being within 2 with 3.1 seconds to play.
    • Jay Bowie scored 19 points, but it was not nearly enough as Marist fell to Villanova 84-47. That loss in round one of the NIT Tip-Off extended the Red Foxes’ losing streak to 19 games.
    • Niagara was the final MAAC team to tip off the season. The Purple Eagles got off to a rough start with a 90-73 loss at home against Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Kashief Edwards paced the Purple Eagles with 22 points.
    • Rider split, losing to UMass in Springfield on Friday before defeating Lafayette at home Sunday. Rider and Lafayette are former ECC (East Coast Conference) members. Mike Ringgold scored his 1000th career point against Lafayette. Rider did pick up a nice win over USC in Los Angeles (77-57).
    • Coach John Dunne’s concerns about offense were realized as St. Peter’s fell 55-30 in their opener at Robert Morris. Nick Leon led the way for the Peacocks with 13 points.
    • After a home-opening loss to Vermont, Siena fell to 0-2 as host Minnesota rallied for a 75-69 victory. Clarence Jackson led the Saints with 29 points.

    Tempo Notes

    UMass trailed by over 20 points in the early part of the second half of their opener against Rider in Springfield. The Minutemen went on a second half rally and eventually earned a 77-67 victory. A comeback of that nature usually spells a wild up-tempo affair. In this case it was just the opposite.

    Possessions                Offensive Efficiency

    Rider 67                                  100

    UMass 67                                  114

    The pace suggests a moderate tempo, nothing like the racehorse pace usually reserved for frantic comebacks . The offensive efficiency bears out the fact Rider just could not stop the Minutemen. Especially during that second half.

    Another note comes from Ryan Restivo who does a great job with the SienaSaints blog (not just saying that because I have been a guest contributor there). Ryan did a breakdown of the Saints’ loss at Minnesota, analyzing every Siena possession by time. The conclusion was that Siena was more effective and efficient in possessions that lasted less than 15 seconds. For instance, Siena shot 69% in their possessions (47) under 15 seconds and was only 30% from the field in the 31 possessions of 15 seconds or more.  Very interesting material that bears out that players often pass up a good shot early and are often left with a rushed or less desirable attempt as the shot clock winds down.

    Upcoming Games of Note:

    • November 19: St.Peter’s vs. Old Domion (Paradise Jam); Fairfield at Penn State; Niagara at Georgia Tech
    • November 20: Rider vs. TCU (Hall of Fame Tip-Off)
    • November 21: Rider vs. Loyola Marymount (Hall of Fame Tip-Off)
    • November 23: Butler vs. Siena; St.Joesph’s vs. Fairfield
    • November 25: Manhattan vs. Wisconsin (Old Spice Classic in Orlando)
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    RTC 2010-11 Impact Players: National Wrap-Up

    Posted by rtmsf on November 8th, 2010

    Over the past month-plus, we’ve been presenting our RTC Impact Players for the 2010-11 season. From coast to coast and the Canadian border down to Mexico, we’ve selected the sixty players nationally who we believe will have the most impact on the game this year.  Each of the ten geographic regions was allotted five “starters” and a “sixth man,” an artificial construct that was easy to fill in some areas while much more difficult in some of the others.  In case you’ve missed the series along the way, this post will serve as your wrap-up.  We’re rank-ordering the ten “teams” by geographic region and list some of the near-miss players in each one.  Each regional post has a much more extensive writeup on each player chosen, so be sure to click on its respective link if you’re looking for additional information.  Here’s the view of the 2010-11 college basketball world from 500,000 feet.

    The 2010-11 RTC Impact Players Map

    The Ten Regions

    (* denotes current injury, suspension or ineligibility)

    1. Lower Midwest Region (OH, IN, IL). Wow, and imagine if Robbie Hummel hadn’t gotten hurt.  Another group of first-rounders has everything, but what really sets this team apart is the inside dominance that Sullinger and Johnson can impose.  There isn’t a region on our list this year that would be able to stay out of foul trouble against those two, especially with the heady play of Mack, McCamey and Moore finding the big men in the right spots time and time again.  It’s no coincidence that the nation’s best conference — the Big 10 — has its footprint located here.

    • Shelvin Mack, G, Butler
    • E’Twaun Moore, G, Purdue
    • Chris Wright, F, Dayton
    • Jared Sullinger, F, Ohio State
    • JaJuan Johnson, C, Purdue
    • Demetri McCamey, G, Illinois (6th)

    Near Misses: William Buford, Ohio State; Maurice Creek, G, Indiana; John Shurna, Northwestern

    2. South Atlantic Region (VA, NC, SC). Obviously, if you can’t find a space for a likely all-american like Nolan Smith, this is a sick team.  Its only weakness is that other than Tracy Smith, it is extremely perimeter-oriented.  Granted, nobody can put a more talented five on the floor, but if a team like the above can pound the ball inside on them, that could make the difference.

    • Kyrie Irving, G, Duke
    • Malcolm Delaney, G, Virginia Tech
    • Kevin Anderson, G, Richmond
    • Harrison Barnes, F, UNC
    • Kyle Singler, F, Duke
    • Tracy Smith, F, NC State (6th)

    Near Misses: Nolan Smith, Duke; Andrew Goudelock, College of Charleston

    3. Plains/Mountains Region (KS, CO, WY, OK, TX). This is a ridiculously talented region, with first-rounders everywhere on the floor.  The only possible issue would be who would be willing to sacrifice for the betterment of the team, but if Selby is eligible to run the show, we’re not sure there’s a much better group anywhere else in America.  This region is so strong we had to leave a high-major conference POY (Culpepper) off the team.  Wow.

    • LaceDarius Dunn*, G, Baylor
    • Jacob Pullen, G, Kansas State
    • Perry Jones, F, Baylor
    • Marcus Morris, F, Kansas
    • Cory Higgins, F, Colorado
    • Josh Selby*, Kansas (6th)

    Near Misses: Alec Burks, Colorado; Gary Johnson, Texas; Randy Culpepper, UTEP

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    RTC Conference Primers: #15 – MAAC

    Posted by Brian Goodman on October 21st, 2010

    Ray Floriani of NBE Basketball Report and College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the NEC and MAAC.

    Predicted Order of Finish

    1. Fairfield (14-4)
    2. Siena (13-5)
    3. St.Peter’s (11-7)
    4. Iona (10-8)
    5. Niagara (9-9)
    6. Loyola (MD) (8-10)
    7. Canisius (7-11)
    8. Manhattan (7-11)
    9. Rider (6-12)
    10. Marist (5-13)

    All Conference Team

    • Derek Needham (G) – Fairfield
    • Ryan Rossiter (F) – Siena
    • Wesley Jenkins (G) – St.Peter’s
    • Scott Machado (G) –  Iona
    • Julius Coles (G) – Canisius

    Top Newcomer

    Mike Glover (F) - Iona. Glover,  a 6’7 transfer from Seton Hall is eligible at Iona this season and is the newcomer pick here. He’ll certainly get the opportunity to excel as the Gaels need steady contributions up front.

    Averaging 16.4 points per game as a freshman last season, Fairfield's Derek Needham may be the MAAC's best player. (Brian A. Pounds/Connecticut Post)

    Predicted Champion: Fairfield (NCAA Seed: #14) – They nearly won the conference in 2010 and are the favorite entering this campaign. The Stags were twenty minutes away from an upset and ticket to the Big Dance, but Siena rallied to capture the MAAC Tournament crown in overtime. If the Stags won the game, it would have been labeled an upset by traditional fans, but not in the eyes of those who follow the MAAC closely. Fairfield was that good. They return a big reason for their success last year in point guard Derek Needham. The freshman prodigy was one of the best players in the MAAC and will play a vital role in the Fairfield attack. Anthony Johnson, a solid inside player, is gone. Coach Ed Cooley hopes some of the injury problems of last year have exited as well. Newcomers Maurice Barrow and Keith Matthews will inject some fresh talent. Read the rest of this entry »

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    RTC 2010-11 Impact Players – Northeast Region

    Posted by rtmsf on October 4th, 2010

    It’s October.  The leaves are starting to turn colors.  Halloween candy is already in the stores.  There have been a few nights where you may have even turned on the heat.  Midnight Madness is less than two weeks away and RTC is ready to jump into the 2010-11 Season Preview materials headfirst, like a ten-foot stack of those leaves that you just raked into a giant pile.  For the second October in a row, we’re going to bring you our RTC Impact Players series.  The braintrust has gone back and forth on this throughout September and we’ve finally settled on a group of sixty players throughout ten geographic regions of the country (five starters plus a sixth man) to represent the who and where of players you should be watching this season.  Seriously, if you haven’t seen every one of these players ball at least once by the end of February, then you need to figure out a way to get a better television package.  As always in a subjective analysis such as this, some of our decisions were difficult; many others were quite easy.  What we can say without reservation is that there is great talent in every corner of this nation of ours, and we’ll do our best to excavate it over the next five weeks in this series that will publish on Mondays and Thursdays.  Each time, we’ll also provide a list of some of the near-misses as well as the players we considered in each region, but as always, we welcome you guys, our faithful and very knowledgeable readers, to critique us in the comments.  We begin in the top right corner of the country also known as the Northeast.

    Northeast Region (ME, NH, VT, MA, RI, CT, NY)


    • Kemba Walker – Jr, G – Connecticut. Kemba Walker is a two-time RTC Impact Player, as he was slotted in this position prior to his sophomore campaign last season.  Many, ourselves included, expected the exceptionally quick point guard to have a breakout 2009-10 season that would result in the NBA Draft come June, but like the entire UConn program last season, things didn’t work out exactly as planned.    He’s your classic Boogie Down point guard in that he carries himself with a swagger borne on the playgrounds of New York City, he looks to attack the goal first and foremost off the bounce, and he often exhibits problems subjugating his own scoring in favor of keeping everyone else involved.  Still, there’s no denying the pure talent Walker possesses – he’s virtually unguardable in the open court with the ball in his hand, and his scoring (14.6 PPG), passing (4.9 APG), defense (2.1 SPG) and outside shooting (34% 3FG, up 7%) have all improved.  One problem area was that he was a turnover machine in the first half of last season (totaling 69 miscues through January 23), but after that the light appeared to click on and he cleaned up his handle the rest of the way with nine games of two TOs or fewer.  Even if he’s learned the value of possession, though, there are still areas of concern.  As the lead guard taking over for AJ Price last season, he presided over the tumultuous team chemistry of a proud program that suffered one of its worst seasons in Jim Calhoun’s tenure at UConn.  Also troubling was that his renowned ability to get to the rim and finish at a high rate fell off considerably (52% as a freshman; 43% last year), suggestive of  greater defensive focus placed on him and a tendency to over-penetrate.  NBA draftniks still like Walker as a late first-rounder when he decides to come out, so if he can finally make the expected leap from a very good collegiate point guard to a great one, expect to see him standing tall with David Stern on the stage at MSG next June (he is also on track to graduate in May 2011).

    Walker Has a Heavy Load to Carry This Season

    • Charles Jenkins, Sr, G – Hofstra. For the Hofstra Pride, it begins and ends with Jenkins. After getting over some early season injuries last season, Jenkins took over and led his team in scoring in 16 of its last 18 games. He was the only player on the team to average double figures last season (20.6 PPG), and was clearly their go-to player in almost every situation. As a result, he’s earned plenty of accolades, bringing home last season’s CAA Player of the Year award as well as taking home his second straight Haggerty Award (presented to the best player in the New York Metropolitan area) and earning an Associated Press All-American honorable mention. He’s on track to wrap up his career on Long Island as the school’s all-time leading scorer, but he is also currently eighth on the school’s all-time assist list as well, a testament to just how much he does for this team. For a Pride squad that only returns three players that averaged more than two points per game last season (senior center Greg Washington and senior swing Nathaniel Lester are the other two), Jenkins will need to pick right back up where he left off last season when he scored 20 or more in the last nine games. Jenkins will play a ton of minutes (he played 39 or more minutes 18 times last season), take a bunch of shots (only once against a D1 opponent last season did he fail to take more than ten field goal attempts), and he’ll score plenty of points in a variety of ways. While he is an excellent three-point shooter (hitting 41% from deep last year – a nice improvement from his first two seasons), Jenkins is at his best when he puts the ball on the floor and gets into the lane, scoring with a variety of moves, creating easy looks for teammates or, ideally, drawing fouls and getting to the line where he excels as an 80-plus percent shooter. Jenkins has shown an ability over his career to play heavy minutes and carry the load of expectations without wearing down, and he’ll need to do it all one more time for the Pride to compete with teams like Old Dominion, Virginia Commonwealth and George Mason for a CAA title and Jenkins’ first NCAA Tournament bid in an otherwise outstanding college career.

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