Joe Dzuback is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic 10. He’s covering the Atlantic 10 tournament in Brooklyn this week. You can also find his musings online at Villanova by the Numbers or on Twitter @vtbnblog.
Fans at the A-10 Tournament evening session were treated to two hard-fought contests where the winning points were scored with less than five seconds remaining. Saint Joseph’s ended Xavier’s Atlantic 10 run, 58-57, in a game that came down to a full court inbounds pass with 1.4 seconds remaining that ricocheted off of Xavier’s backboard. Isaiah Philmore, trailing the play, found the ball in his hands, but despite a good angle could not convert the shot. He collapsed on the court as time expired. In the other game, Massachusetts ended George Washington’s season with a 77-72 decision that was settled at the free throw line with five seconds left on the clock.
Chris Mack and his Xavier squad ended its A-10 season ended with a heartbreaking loss Thursday evening.
Three Thoughts on Thursday Evening’s Session:
I Left a Ticket for the Pope: Saint Joseph’s Phil Martelli is always good for a quote or two or three. Xavier could not counter an extremely physical Saint Joseph’s frontcourt as Mack rotated Isaiah Philmore, Jalen Robinson, Brad Redford and Travis Taylor in an attempt to find an answer to Ron Roberts, C.J. Aiken and especially Halil Kanacevic. The 6’9” forward/center had a terrible first half, but finished strong with three buckets, two coming at critical times. A game that saw 10 ties and 14 lead changes, with Xavier’s eight point lead the largest by either, came down to two free throws with under five seconds to play. Langston converted both to give Saint Joseph’s a one-point lead. Xavier’s full court pass to a flashing Taylor sailed high off the backboard right into Philmore’s waiting arms. The forward’s field goal attempt was wide right and fell off the rim, leaving the Joe’s to play another day. Xavier is no doubt bound for a postseason tournament somewhere, just not the NCAA Tournament. Read the rest of this entry »
Conference Realignment: Who’s Got Next? A non-story for the entire season, the divorce negotiated between the Catholic 7 and the Conference Formerly Known as the Big East was finalized last week, a development guaranteed to kick off another round of musical partners. The Catholic 7 got custody of the last name (Big East) and the house (an older but stately palace in downtown New York), along with a promise to process the paperwork quickly. The new/old conference needs three more members to share the TV money and national exposure they are rumored to have negotiated with Fox Sports. The yearly payout per team, believed to be just under ten times the per-team amount the Atlantic 10 just agreed to with CBS, should draw interest. Butler and Xavier have been at the center of Catholic 7 alignment rumors since last October. Unlike Temple’s announced exit in February of last season, however, neither school has confirmed – or denied – the rumors. Xavier, a member since 1995-96, would be the second flagship program (behind Temple) to exit the conference in that last 13 months. Butler who twice went to the Final Four within the last five years, has barely had time to unpack before moving on. When given the news of Temple’s exit in February of 2012, commissioner Bernadette McGlade took a proactive tack and had two replacements in place eight weeks into the offseason. Expect her to do the same this off season. George Mason and Wichita State are the two mentioned most by fans and conference followers.
The Best Basketball-Centric Conference? Mountain West fans may disagree, but it seems certain that the Atlantic 10 Conference will send at least five members to the NCAA Tournament, equaling the highest ever achieved (1997 and 1998). Saint Louis, Butler and Virginia Commonwealth are all but certain to receive bids regardless of what happens this weekend, and prospects for Temple and La Salle remain very strong. On top of that, Massachusetts or Xavier could, with strong conference tournament showings, squeeze out an unprecedented sixth bid for the conference, though it seems unlikely.
The last week of conference play opens with only three conference tournament spots – all three on the sidelines, determined. Others (that Saint Louis will take the #1 seed, Virginia Commonwealth will take #2 and La Salle most likely the #3) seem nearly certain, but note that seeds #4 through #12 are pretty much up for grabs…at least until Wednesday.
Jim Crews has the right to smirk a little after leading the Billikens to their first regular season title in 42 years. (USATSI)
Saint Louis (24-6, 13-3; #16 AP; Projected NCAA Seed #5) – The Billikens stumbled in the last week versus Xavier, but locked down the #1 seed in Brooklyn by beating La Salle. Off until Friday, coach Jim Crews’ team will meet the winner of the Richmond/Charlotte game (most likely Richmond), and if seed holds, most likely La Salle Saturday (and Virginia Commonwealth on Sunday). On the radar however is the NCAA tournament (yes the Bills are a lock at this point, win or lose Friday) seed. The consensus today is a #4-#5 seed with little prospect of moving up without a slew of early conference tournament losses elsewhere. RTC’s Dan Evans’ early March bracket matched the #5 Bills against #12 seed OVC Champion Belmont. The Bears run and gun, which would make this an interesting matchup. Read the rest of this entry »
Will Tucker is an RTC correspondent and a Big East microsite writer. He filed this report from Xavier’s game versus Butler in Cincinnati today.
Does Xavier look significantly different than in years past? Butlercoach Brad Stevens shook his head vigorously when asked the question after his team had been thumped, 62-47, in the Cintas Center. “No, no,” he stressed, “maybe different enough that they have a big-time chip on their shoulder. I see them having a great year,” admitting he laughed when he saw Xavier picked ninth in the Atlantic 10 this season.“I thought that that was silly to begin with.”
Senior Jeff Robinson is eager to prove himself
Chris Mack’s Musketeers had won two years in a row and nine of the last 11 meetings with Butler but still entered today as a four-point underdog on its home court against a CBI team that lost starter Ronald Nored and projected starter Chrishawn Hopkins. But that wasn’t entirely unreasonable, considering Xavier’s roster was shrouded in uncertainty, completely overhauled from a season ago after its starters all either graduated or left town. Its most experienced returning player, Travis Taylor, entered his senior campaign having logged less than 15 minutes per game, 4.5 PPG and 3.7 RPG last season. So it’s hard to fault all but the most devout Musketeer faithful for writing Xavier off as a rebuilding project in 2012-13.
While Big East basketball is always a spectacle, this conference season has even more added juice with the impending departures of Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and (eventually) Notre Dame. However, before we get to conference games, the Big East is involved in some really intriguing non-conference games this season. Big East teams will be playing all over the United States, Germany, and on a few aircraft carriers. Let’s take a look at the best that the Big East has to offer in the non-conference slate this season.
Syracuse and San Diego State tip off the season on the deck of the USS Midway this Sunday (AP)
25. Pittsburgh v. Oakland, November 17, 7 PM
The Panthers have a rather light non-conference slate this season, but don’t expect them to look past the Golden Grizzlies. Oakland has a history of playing tough schedules, and won’t be intimidated by the Zoo. Oakland is coming off of a bit of a down year in 2011-12 when they finished 20-16 (11-7), but made the NCAA Tournament in both 2009-10, when they were knocked out in the first round by Pittsburgh, and 2010-11.
24. DePaul @ Auburn, November 30, 9 PM
Look for DePaul to try to do the conference proud when they head down to take on the Auburn Tigers as part of the SEC-Big East Challenge. This DePaul squad should be better than it has been in years past, returning dynamic forward Cleveland Melvin and dangerous guard Brandon Young. Auburn is coming off of a poor 15-16 season, and could be ripe for a big non-conference road win for the Blue Demons.
23. Rutgers v. Iona, Madison Square Garden, December 8, 9:30 PM
One of these New York metropolitan-area teams is coming off of a great season that ended in a heartbreaking NCAA tournament loss to BYU. The other is continually striving to build its program, and aspires to have such success. It almost seems backwards that Iona is the more accomplished team at the moment, but isn’t that what makes college basketball so great? A big performance by the Scarlet Knights at the Garden could go a long way in setting the tone for a run at a tournament berth in the Big East.
22. St. John’s v. Detroit, November 13, 2 PM
The Johnnies tip off their season against a very dangerous Detroit squad led by superstar Ray McCallum. St. John’s has a number of impressive young players themselves, and head coach Steve Lavin will return to the sideline after battling cancer last season. While many look forward to what should be a fun match-up between McCallum and D’Angelo Harrison, the St. John’s star was recently benched in the team’s final exhibition for disciplinary reasons. If Lavin continues to have issues with his top guard, it could prove very problematic for the Red Storm next week.
Early Season Performances – The Oooh Aaaah Variety (Teams & Individuals)
The A-10 evened the record versus the six power conferences again last week, largely on the strength of performances by Xavier and Richmond. Xavier needed overtime to beat Vanderbilt in Nashville. Down by two with just under four minutes in regulation, Xavier held Vanderbilt scoreless and managed to tie on a Mark Lyons jumper with six seconds remaining in regulation. In overtime the Musketeers took the lead for good 68-66 on two Dezmine Wells free throws and Tu Holloway put a large enough margin between the teams (about eight points) when he hit two threes in successive possessions to absorb a Commodore mini-run. Vanderbilt chipped the Musketeers’ lead down to four, but could get no closer. Forced to foul, Holloway and Travis Taylor went a perfect 6 for 6 from the line to stretch the lead to 10 and suck the life out of the Commodore comeback.
Hosting Purdue five days later, Xavier again went down early, allowing Purdue to take the lead at the 18:49 mark of the first half and hold it for the next 37 minutes of play. The Boilermakers took an 11-point lead into the intermission and stretched it to 15 in the first 6:30 of the second half. Over the next 12:24 Xavier outscored Purdue 29-13 to take the lead for only the second time in the game. Once in control, the Musketeers did not let the Boilermakers back in, pushing their lead out to three in the last minute of the game.
Those numbers are more interesting, however, when you break up the game. For example, with 3:30 left in overtime against Vanderbilt, Holloway had just 14 points on 4-17 shooting. That stat line looks much more impressive after he hit back-to-back threes on the next two possessions and four straight free throws down the stretch to seal the win. Likewise, against Purdue, Holloway had just 10 points and six turnovers in the first 38 minutes of the game, but in the final two minutes he hit a three on three consecutive possessions (video of the last two below) and followed that up with two free throws, completing the most impressive comeback of the young season…in the final three minutes against Vanderbilt and the last two minutes against Purdue, Holloway had 21 points, went 5-6 from beyond the arc and knocked down all six of his free throws attempts.
The Richmond squad had to replace 59% of their minutes and 68.6% of their scoring from the squad that won the A-10 conference tournament and ran to the Sweet Sixteen last March. Freshman point guard Kendall Anthony, three times designated Rookie of the Week by the conference, has picked up a load of time and scoring responsibilities for the Spiders so far. Richmond leaned heavily on Anthony along with sophomores Cedrick Lindsay and Derrick Williams for offense. Both chipped in double digit points to complement Anthony’s production. Lindsay was a serviceable back-up to senior point guard Kevin Anderson last season, but Williams, who has started all eight games for the Spiders, saw very little action as a freshman.
Overlooked Temple off guard Aaron Brown turned heads the summer before coming to North Broad, but had few opportunities to show Temple fans and the A-10 what he could do. Brown scored 21 points in 22 minutes in a display during Temple’s 86-74 win over Central Michigan. Ken Pomeroy would find hard to ignore his performance, as he hit 7-11 (4-7 from three point land, 3-4 from inside the arc) shots from the floor while getting to the line for five free throws, of which he hit three. That computes to an 81.8% eFG% with a 1.57 points per weighted shot, an outstanding outing for the sophomore, who was pressed into action due to the injury-depleted squad.
Early Season Performances – The What the !@#!@@!# Variety (Teams & Individuals)
After winning their early season invitational tournaments, beating four power conference opponents (two each) during the tournament, both Dayton and Saint Louis stumbled in post tournament games. The losses are puzzling because for both teams, the games were winnable. Saint Louis took an “and-one” game with Loyola Marymount of the West Coast Conference, losing by seven with a performance that had team observers scratching their heads. Dayton compounded the first post tournament loss (by 29 to Buffalo of the MAC) with a second loss, this one by 17, to Murray State of the Ohio Valley Conference. The opponents were beatable, making the scoring margins downright consternating. Dayton was pegged to finish in the middle of the conference, but the two unexpected losses (albeit the Racers will most likely contend for the OVC title this season) could damage the Flyers chances for a post season NIT bid. Other inexplicable losses go to Saint Bonaventure’s home loss to Arkansas State of the Sun Belt Conference, a 3-4 team no one expects to make noise this season. The Bonnies were not helped by a lackluster six-point, nine-rebound effort from Andrew Nicholson.
The Power Rankings are shuffled again this week in response to the Ooohs, Aaaahs and What the heck games listed above. For the Atlantic-10 the post season margin for error is exceedingly slim. Three losses going into the first or second week of December can take a school off the RPI short list pretty quickly.
1. Xavier (6-0) #8 AP – Xavier took down two more power conference programs last week in fashion impressive enough to climb three more spots in the AP poll. I listed many of the impressive details in the impressive performances section above, but in addition to the video link below that shows two of Tu Holloway’s three “last two minute” three point field goals below (h/t to Dana & Victory Blog for the link). I should also mention that in Nashville Mark Lyons (19 points) and Travis Taylor (11 points) chipped in more than 10 apiece to go with Holloway’s 24 point performance, while Antoine Walker collected 14 rebounds in his return to Vanderbilt where he played for three years. Versus Purdue three Musketeers, Lyons (14 points), Walker (10 points) and Kenny Fraese (10 points) chipped in double digit points to complement Holloway’s 21 point outburst.
Xavier will travel to Indianapolis Wednesday for a game with Butler, then return home to host this season’s Crosstown Shootout versus Cincinnati on Saturday. Win these next two and Chris Mack’s squad deserves something special, like Christmas in Hawaii…wait.
2. Saint Louis (7-1) –Their top 25 ranking proved surprisingly short, the penalty for stumbling against the Lions last Tuesday. St. Louis recovered to beat another WCC team, Portland by 20, 73-53 at the Chaifetz. The Billikens’ defense limited Portland to 0.90 points per possession, much as they had Boston College and Oklahoma. Scoring centered on Brian Conklin and Cody Ellis, with Kyle Cassidy and Mike McCall providing efficient long-range scoring. They will host Vermont on Wednesday and Division II Illinois-Springfield on Saturday.
Brian Otskey is the Big East correspondent for RTC and a regular contributor. You can find him @botskey on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.
As we move into December, the first big Saturday of the year (highlighted by the battle in Lexington) is now upon us. Not to mention we get a nice preview of things to come on Friday evening.
#6 Florida @ #3 Syracuse – 7 PM EST Friday on ESPN (*****)
Syracuse has three distinct advantages in this game despite playing a top ten opponent. One is home court, two is height, and three is depth. The Orange have taller players at every position, one through five, and Jim Boeheim can go a legitimate ten deep into his bench. Against a Florida team that will be without forward Erik Murphy, Syracuse may be able to overwhelm the guard-heavy Gators. The key for the Orange will be defense. The 2-3 zone creates a fantastic match-up given Florida’s preferred style of offense, shooting lots of threes. If the Orange can be active and extend the perimeter of the zone, Florida will have a tough time.
The key for Florida is simple: make threes. To do that however, the Gators must establish Patric Young early and often. Playing without Murphy, Young is Florida’s only reliable post player. If he can’t get going, Syracuse won’t have to worry about extending the zone and leaving holes in the middle. If Young gets off to a fast start, the Orange will have to respect his presence by packing its defense in a bit more inside the arc. That will give Florida’s dynamic guards the opportunity to make shots. With Kenny Boynton and Mike Rosario both shooting almost 50% from deep and two other Gators lurking as potential snipers, Syracuse doesn’t want to be forced to do that.
Can UF Establish Patric Young Inside To Give Its Shooters Room?
It’s always fun when a team that relies heavily on guards and the three point shot gets together with a team that plays almost exclusively zone. The Syracuse defense will tempt Florida to shoot the deep ball all night but Florida must work for open shots by establishing Young and some sort of an inside-out game. Keeping the zone off balance and moving the ball effectively are always keys to finding open shots. Defensively, Florida has to do better. Syracuse is much more efficient on that end of the floor while the Gators rank a pedestrian 52nd in the nation. Although three point shooting is the big key in this game, Florida’s defense could cost them in a tight game.
Early Season Tournaments – The Conference Crossroads: Though the invitational tournaments come in three different formats, they provide A-10 members with the opportunity to face-off against competition from other conferences. If the tournament is a “destination”, all the better, as those often offer one or two games versus power conference opponents on a neutral court. Mixed format tournaments can provide the A-10 member with the chance to play a power conference opponent and then host a sub-regional mini-tournament afterward, as George Washington did for the Preseason NIT last season and Rhode Island did for the Legends Classic this season. Despite the road game incentive built into the RPI, the NCAA does little to discourage the power conference practice of guarantee games beyond officially “frowning” on it. Unless you are Xavier or Temple, your best chance to see a power conference team in a venue besides their home court (on the front end of a home-and-home agreement) is to join one of the early-season invitational tournaments. Though Xavier will spend Christmas in Hawaii at the Diamond Head Classic, virtually all early-season invitational tournaments concluded on or before Thanksgiving Weekend. How did the Atlantic-10 do?
The 21-13 record reveals both hope (Dayton, Richmond and Saint Louis) and fear (La Salle, Massachusetts and Rhode Island) as the season progresses, but overall, the 61.8% winning percentage will help the conference come Selection Sunday. Flyer fans can look to a surprise first-place finish in the Old Spice Classic that included wins over Wake Forest out of the ACC and Minnesota from the Big Ten, as signs that the Dayton program revival is ahead of schedule under rookie coach Archie Miller. Saint Louis rolled through the 76 Classic field, cutting through three power conference opponents in four days like a hot knife through butter. No one, not Boston College (ACC), Villanova (Big East) nor Oklahoma (Big 12) could get closer than 11 points to the Billikens in their final scores.
Brian Otskey is the Big East correspondent for RTC and a regular contributor. You can find him @botskey on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.
The quality of games kicks into high gear this week with a pair of good ones to start it off.
Long Beach State at #9 Louisville – 7 PM EST on ESPNU (***)
Louisville’s depth has taken a big hit recently with Wayne Blackshear, Mike Marra, and Peyton Siva all dealing with injuries. Siva returned from a sprained ankle Friday against Ohio in a closer than expected Cardinals win but he remains in a shooting slump. He is just 5-24 (20.8%) in three games this season but is managing to dish out six assists per contest. The Cardinals are winning games defensively as they are ranked second in the nation in defensive efficiency while only putting up 67 PPG on the other end of the floor. A Long Beach State team that plays quick without much defense could be the recipe Louisville needs to gain more confidence offensively. However, Louisville must avoid turnovers against the 49ers, a team that loves to get out in transition. The Cardinals are averaging 15 turnovers per game with Siva at a shaky 3.7 per game.
Louisville Will Have Its Hands Full With Long Beach State
Long Beach State has lost twice on the road since winning at Pittsburgh, falling to San Diego State and Montana. The 49ers defense has not been up to par and that is hurting them significantly. They love to play at a fast pace but they are very average defensively as well as on the boards. Casper Ware going upagainst Siva should be a terrific match-up and he will need to carry the team all night as he did against Pittsburgh on November 16. Long Beach State is not going to get many opportunities to score against the strong Louisville defense so limiting turnovers, especially on the road, has to be its top priority. They average 15 a game but simply cannot afford that many in this game. To win, Long Beach State must play its best defensive game to date and get to the free throw line where they will have a significant edge over Louisville. Depth has to be a concern for Dan Monson, whose team only goes seven deep.
Larry Anderson and James Ennis have a height advantage at the two and three positions against Chris Smith and Kyle Kuric, but they must stay in front of their men all game. Ennis is a good on-ball defender averaging 2.3 steals per game, but the Louisville guards may be able to exploit Long Beach State from the three-point arc. In the paint, T.J. Robinson is a terrific rebounder but he will be going up against the 6’10” Gorgui Dieng (3.4 blocks per game) and a Louisville team that rebounds well as a unit. To earn more possessions for his team, Robinson likely has to have a big game on the glass as well as offensively. That will be extremely difficult against a Cardinals front line that allows only 33.5% shooting inside the arc. Long Beach State does have a chance to win the game but there is one major difference between Pittsburgh and Louisville. It is defense and that is why we feel the Cardinals have the ultimate edge in this game tonight.
Xavier's Tu Holloway Is A First-Team All-American Candidate And One Of The Nation's Best Seniors
A-10 to Barclays in 2013: Barclays Center, under construction in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, is in the market for multi-day sporting events while the Atlantic 10 is looking for a bigger stage for their post season tournament — a perfect match perhaps? The two announced a deal late last month that will move the 2012-13 A-10 Conference Tournament to the 675,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art sports and entertainment venue that will feature an 18,000 seat arena for basketball. The Atlantic 10 has vacillated between rotating campus sites and a “permanent neutral” site since the first conference tournament in 1976-77. The current location since the 2006-07 tournament, Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, is a 10,500 seat amphitheater. While technically neutral, the attendance is up when one or more of the Philadelphia contingent (La Salle, Saint Joseph’s and/or Temple) advances to the quarterfinal round and beyond, and down when they do not. The conference will return to Boardwalk Hall for their 2011-12 tournament, then move over to Barclays Center the following season.
With the completion of the NBA Draft and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. Our latest update comes courtesy of our Atlantic 10 correspondent, Joe Dzuback. You can read more of his in-depth writing and analysis at Villanova By The Numbers.
Reader’s Take I
Bobinski to Chair NCAA Selection Committee: While the conference again sent seven teams, half of its membership, to the postseason — three to the NCAA, one to the NIT and three to the CBI, the Final Four runs by Butler (Horizon League) and Virginia Commonwealth (Colonial Athletic Association) overshadowed a showing, Xavier’s loss to Marquette excepted, that exceeded 2010’s NCAA results. The NCAA announced that Xavier Athletic Director Mike Bobinski will succeed Connecticut’s Jeff Hathaway as Chairman of the 2012 NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. Bobinski just completed his third year of a five-year term on the Selection Committee. While the Atlantic 10 has been the most successful non-BCS conference in placing teams in the tournament field (with 20 NCAA bids allotted to six teams since 2004), its representatives have tended to draw the short straw when it comes to seeding, and Bobinski will likely lobby hard for that cause.
The Coaching Carousel: The conference had two coaching vacancies during the early phase of the coaching carousel. If the 2010 offseason saw coaching turnovers due to firings, the 2011 offseason saw suitors come to call on the Atlantic 10 coaching fraternity. Tennessee, having fired Bruce Pearl on March 21, made its first call to Xavier to talk with Chris Mack. Mack reportedly turned aside an offer of $2 million per year to coach the Volunteers in favor of staying in Cincinnati with the Musketeers. Richmond’s Chris Mooney signed a 10-year contract extension, his second extension in two years, ending Georgia Tech’s courtship. Mooney’s decision triggered a spate of articles (see “Old coaching assumptions are fading” by Dana O’Neil for example) about non-BCS coaches who pass on BCS offers to stay with their programs. The Yellow Jackets turned their attention to Dayton’s Brian Gregory, who succumbed to the lure of the BCS and packed his bags for Atlanta on March 28. Dayton conducted a six-day search and hired Archie Miller, brother of former Xavier head man Sean Miller, away from Arizona to succeed Gregory. In late April, George Washington’s Athletic Director, Patrick Nero, fired 10-year veteran Karl Hobbs. Nero, who succeeded retiring AD Jack Kvancz on June 30, was hired on April 20, and wasted no time in turning over the men’s basketball staff. Nero reached into his old stomping grounds, the American East Conference, and hired the league’s premier head basketball coach, MikeLonergan of Vermont, on May 6 to replace Hobbs. The resignation of Penn State head coach Ed DeChellis on May 24 (DeChellis took over the Navy program) triggered a few tense days among the Duquesne faithful as coach Ron Everhart landed an interview for the Happy Valley position. The Dukes exhaled on June 1 when Everhart withdrew his name from consideration in favor of staying with the Pittsburgh school next season.
Media Coverage: The Atlantic 10 and ESPN renewed their deal to have eight games (selected by ESPN) televised on either ESPN or ESPN2 in each of the next two seasons. The ESPN networks are committed to broadcasting the Women’s Championship and up to 32 appearances in each of the next two seasons.
Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences.
LYNDHURST, NJ – Robert Morris holds only a one-game lead over Quinnipiac after the win by the visiting team over the weekend. If Quinnipiac can win their final two and RMU loses one more game this upcoming week, the Bobcats would get the tiebreaker by virtue of the sole win between the two this year.
*note: standings prior to Saturday 2/20 games.
Co-Players of the week:
Kelly Biedler, F, Mount St. Mary’s – Averaged 15.5 points, 10 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game in a pair of road victories. Shot 56% from the field and was 4 of 9 from three point range on the week. Had 14 boards and 3 blocks in the win at Monmouth.
James Johnson, G, Quinnipiac – Averaged 20 points and 3 assists as Quinnipiac clinched its fifth straight NEC tournament berth. Scored a career-high 23 points in the win over LIU. Has started the first 56 games of his Quinnipiac career, second longest streak in the school’s Division I history.
Rookie of the Week:
Will Felder, F, St. Francis (PA) – Averaged 12.5 points,7.5 rebounds and shot 53% from the floor in two Red Flash victories. Hit a key three pointer and grabbed a crucial rebound in the stretch of the two point victory at CCSU.
MILESTONES and NOTES:
Joe Seymore became the 31st player in Central Connecticut history to score 1,000 career points.
Justin Rutty of Quinnipiac and LIU’s Kyle Johnson also hit their 1000th point. Membership in the NEC’s all-time 1000 point club is now at 164. The league began operations back in 1981.
League history was also impacted recently. On January 17, 1987, Robert Morris held St. Francis (NY) to 34 points. That record stood until very recently. And it was matched twice. Last week St. Francis (PA) defeated Bryant 60-34. Ironically that came a week after CCSU also defeated Bryant by that same score.
Dave Calloway is now the winningest Monmouth coach in NEC play. Calloway has 122 victories . Calloway surpassed his former college coach Wayne Szoke to grab the top spot.
Junior guard Shemick Thompson recently moved into seventh place in CCSU’s all time list of assist leaders.
Sacred Heart senior guard Ryan Litke is now on the top ten NEC list for career three point field goals made. Litke has 262 trifectas… and counting.
Much has been written and chronicled here regarding Jeremy Goode’s move up the assist and scoring ladder. The Mount St. Mary’s senior sensation recently cracked another top ten list. Goode is now number nine on the all time steals chart and has a chance to move up a few more notches.
Robert Morris is now second in most overall wins over a five-year span. The Colonials have 100 wins from 2005-10 (and one assumes they aren’t done yet). The leader is FDU with 102 wins from 1984-89.
Bryant – Went 0-2 for the week. Bulldogs threw a scare into league leader Robert Morris. Bryant led by five with just over 12 minutes remaining but could not hold on. Freshman forward Vlad Kondratyev led the way for Bryant with a 15-point effort. Shooting 45% from the floor Bryant went into the half tied with Robert Morris but the shooting percentage fell the second half as the Colonials earned the 52-42 victory.
Central Connecticut – Dropped a pair at home losing to Robert Morris and St.Francis (PA). Senior guard Joe Seymore, the only starter to reach double figures, scored 11 against St. Francis. CCSU had been 6-2 at home and won four straight prior to the two losses. Blue Devils are 2-10 on the road but both wins were in NEC action. CCSU continues to lead the NEC I scoring defense allowing 63.9 PPG. They will need it with the next two games on the road.
FDU – Went 1-2 on the week. The Knights lost an out of conference game to Longwood before defeating Wagner and losing to Mount St.Mary’s. Four FDU players averaged double-figures last week. Senior guard Sean Baptiste averaged 22.3 PPG for the week to pace FDU. Mike Scott had 22 assists on the week. The Longwood game was FDU’s first loss when they outshot their opposition. The 83-81 loss was also the Knight’s first when they eclipsed the 80-point mark.
LIU – Defeated Sacred Heart and lost to Quinnipiac. Kyle Johnson, a junior guard, had his fifth twenty point outing of the year with a career high 26 points at Sacred Heart. LIU had a season low 6 turnovers against Sacred Heart. LIU also canned 10 straight free throws down the stretch to ice the win. The 80-72 loss to Quinnipiac was typically tough as 10 of the last 11 meetings in the series have been decided by fewer than 10 points. LIU out rebounded Quinnipiac, a tough team under the glass, 39-38.
Monmouth – Split home games losing to Mount St. Mary’s and defeating Wagner. Monmouth already surpassed its overall (8) and NEC (6) win total from last year. Travis Taylor returned to the lineup after a seven-game team suspension with a 30 point, 8 rebound effort against Wagner. Hawks were 26 of 31 from the line in that meeting as well. Freshman forward Ed Waite had a notable week averaging 10 PPG and 6.5 RPG.
Mount St. Mary’s – Extended the win streak to six games with wins at Monmouth and FDU. The Mount seniors, Jeremy Goode, Kelly Biedler and Will Holland all had a significant hand in not just the two games last week, but the half dozen wins in recent weeks. During the recent surge, defense has been a key. Opponents are shooting 35% from the field and 23% beyond the arc. Mount has held five opponents during the six game streak to 56 points or less. Mountaineers have won 15 of last 16 NEC contests at home. A significant note as MSM closes with four straight at friendly Knott Arena.
Quinnipiac – Swept home games against St. Francis (NY) and LIU. Sophomore guard James Johnson had a big week for the Bobcats. Junior forward James Rutty continued his outstanding play a little closer to the basket. Rutty averaged 12.5 PPG and 9.5 RPG for the week. Rutty leads the NEC and is 15th nationally with 10.4 RPG. Quinnipiac was more than Johnson and Rutty as senior guards James Feldeine and Jeremy Baker and junior forward Jonathan Cruz all contributed. Bobcats were outrebounded in the win over LIU 39-38 but it was the first time in 24 games an opponent beat them on the boards.
Robert Morris – Lost a nonconference meeting at Pitt then defeated Central Connecticut and Bryant. The conference wins clinched an NEC tournament berth and extended the conference win streak to eleven. The win over CCSU also guaranteed Robert Morris its fifth straight winning season. Freshman guard Karon Abraham and senior forward Rob Robinson had consistently note worth weeks for the Colonials. Abraham was 15 of 17 from the line the two games. Robert Morris has held nine straight NEC opponents to under 70 points.
Sacred Heart – Split home games losing to LIU and defeating St.Francis (NY). SHU has beaten the Terriers four straight and six of the last seven. Senior center Liam Potter posted his seventh double-double of the season with a 10 point, 10 rebound effort in the win. Potter also set the school’s Division I record with 17 rebounds in the loss to LIU. Sacred Heart leads the NEC and ranks sixth nationally with 9.2 three pointers a game. Seniors forward Corey Hassan and guard Ryan Litke are the Pioneers’ main threats beyond the arc.
St. Francis (NY) – Dropped decisions to Quinnipiac and Sacred Heart. Terriers have now lost five of their last six and are descending in the NEC standings. Average margin in those losses has been 11.8 points per outing. St.Francis went a combined 7 of 40 (18%) from three point range last week. In the two losses last week St. Francis held first half leads before the hosts responded with significant runs of their own. In fact the first twenty minutes have been consistently unkind to the Terriers as they failed to score 30 points in the first half in 12 of their last 13 games.
St. Francis (PA) – Swept Bryant and CCSU. The road wins ended a 23-game losing streak away from home that included 17 straight NEC contests. Senior forward Devin Sweetney and freshman forward Will Felder had big weeks for the Red Flash. The victories were also the first back to back road wins since the 2003 season. The 60-34 win at Bryant marked the lowest point total allowed by St. Francis since 1974. Bryant shot 28% from the field in that meeting. Red Flash exceeded hits highest win total (8) of the previous four seasons with their two game sweep.
Wagner – Dropped road contests in the ’Garden State’ losing to FDU and Monmouth. Freshman guard Danny Mundweiler buried six treys for a career high 18 points at FDU. Mundweiler then followed up with a 14 point effort at Monmouth. Top scorer Chris Martin missed the FDU game with a twisted ankle. In his absence sophomore guard Tyler Murray had a career high 17 point effort. Martin saw limited action in the loss at Monmouth.
Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences.
LYNDHURST, NJ – There is some separation between the haves and have nots, but the group at the front is crowded. Robert Morris and Quinnipiac share the lead. Not far behind are LIU, Monmouth and a surprising St. Francis (NY). Sacred Heart is also right there only a stride behind the leaders. There have been struggles in Emmitsburg but Mount St. Mary’s has to be watched and can’t be written off yet. Surprise on the other side is Central Connecticut. Howie Dickenman’s group is usually right in the mix. This season, to date, it’s been a rough go.
Tempo-Free. Included with the standings is a tempo-free breakdown: the average possessions per game and the efficiency margin. Thanks to Basketball State for the data and NEC games only are factored in the results.
Co-Players of the Week
James Feldeine (G), Quinnipiac – Averaged 18.3 PPG scoring on 60% shooting from the floor, including 8 of 13 (62%) from three point range. Highlight was a 24-point effort in a win over Bryant where Feldeine was 8 of 14 from the field.
Travis Taylor (F), Monmouth – Posted back to back twenty point efforts as the Hawks earned a split for two road games. Averaged 56% from the floor over the two contests. In a loss at Robert Morris, Taylor scored a team best 22 points while grabbing 12 boards in a 40-minute effort.
Rookie of the Week
Karon Abraham (G), Robert Morris – Averaged 20.5 PPG and 2.5 APG as the Colonials scored a pair of home victories. Scored all of his team high 20 points in the second half of an 80-73 decision over FDU.
Robert Morris continues its success under the guidance of Mike Rice. In his third season at Robert Morris, the Colonials are an outstanding 36-6 in conference play. The Colonials won back to back regular season titles in ‘08 and ‘09. Currently the Colonials are 6-1 in conference play with 15 straight home wins over NEC competition at their Sewall Center.
The NEC TV package resumes this weekend with the women’s and men’s doubleheader, Robert Morris at Monmouth. The conference has a 21-game package that concludes in march with the conference men’s and women’s championship games on ESPN2 and ESPNU, respectively.
Jeremy Goode broke the all-time record for assists at Mount St. Mary’s. Goode now has 544 assists and passed Gregory Harris who had 529 during his Mount career (1996-00).
With 1,532 points, Goode is also one of seven NEC players to reach 1,500 points and 500 assists.
Dave Calloway has 165 career wins at Monmouth. He is four wins shy of passing the coach who recruited Calloway and whom he replaced, Wayne Szoke.
Ryan Litke of Sacred Heart hit his 100th career point at Bryant. He is the 30th Pioneer to reach that mark, the seventh since Sacred Heart went Division I.
James Feldeine increased his career point total to 1,086. Good for 26th on Quinnipiac’s all time list.
Bryant – Dropped games to Quinnipiac and Sacred Heart and are still searching for their first victory. Bryant outshot Sacred Heart 51% to 45% and it was the first time the Bulldogs shot over 50% from the floor for the game. Senior guard Adam Parzych scored a season high 16 points (including 5 treys) and seven assists against Sacred Heart. Rebounding leader for both outings was another guard, Michael Chroney. In fact, Chroney leads the Bulldogs in rebounding on the season.
Central Connecticut State – Lost to Savannah State then split NEC contests against Quinnipiac and Sacred Heart. Loss to Savannah was CCSU’s first at home this season. Shooting woes plagued the Blue Devils (under 30%) against Quinnipiac. CCSU found the range shooting 49% from the field at Sacred Heart. Junior Shemik Thompson broke out of a slump with a career high 27 points and a season high eight assists. CCSU’s win over Sacred Heart was a complete effort as the Blue Devils outrebounded the Pioneers 41-34 and had 19 assists and 10 steals.
FDU – Knights went 0-2 on their ’Western swing’ with losses to Robert Morris and St.Francis (PA). Senior forward Alvin Mofunanya continued his fine play averaging 17 PPG game for the week and shooting 44% from the field. FDU has four players averaging double figures in conference play. There may very well be another threat as junior forward Kamil Svrdlik, not one of the four alluded to, posted thirteen points and nine rebounds in the St. Francis( PA) game. Big week as FDU hosts Robert Morris and St. Francis (PA) for return rematches.
LIU – Split winning a fifth straight NEC game at Wagner before losing to Mount St. Mary’s also on the road. Blackbirds were on fire shooting 66% (10 of 15) from three point range at Wagner. Junior guard David Hicks led the way with 19 points, 4 rebounds and 2 blocks at Wagner. Despite the loss, LIU committed a season-low seven turnovers. Sophomore guard Michael Culpo hit all three of his three point attempts at the Mount and is 14-21 in NEC play.
Monmouth – Split road games defeating St. Francis (PA) before losing to Robert Morris. Hit just 10 of 19 free throws at SFPA but bounced back for an 18 of 20 mark from the charity stripe against Robert Morris. Travis Taylor had a noteworthy week and has hit double figures twenty straight games dating back to last season. Senior guard Whitney Coleman is now eighth on Monmouth’s all time three point (made) shooting list and seventh in steals.
Mount St. Mary’s – Split a pair of home games losing to St. Francis (NY) and defeating LIU. Senior lead guard Jeremy Goode had a big week handing out 17 assists over the two games. Against LIU, Goode had 17 points and 10 assists and senior forward Kelly Biedler had 15 points and 11 rebounds. That was the first time since January 26, 2002, the Mount had two players earn double-doubles in the same game. The Mount also had a season high 86 points and 20 assists in the win over LIU.
Quinnipiac – Bobcats went 3-0 with wins over Brown and Central Connecticut and Bryant in conference. Balance was the key as five Bobcats averaged in double figures for the week. Senior James Feldeine set the pace averaging 18 PPG. Care of the ball was another factor as Quinnipiac committed a total 22 turnovers the three games with nine a single game high. For the three contests Quinnipiac had 47 assists against the 22 turnovers , a 2.14 assist/turnover rate. Justin Rutty, the NEC leader with 10.4 RPG, continued his fine inside play for the Bobcats.
Robert Morris – Swept FDU and Monmouth last weekend to extend their conference win streak to 15 games at their Sewall Center. Have a crucial road trip this weekend as they visit those same two schools. Accurate shooting a big factor as the Colonials connected on 56% from the field last week. Freshman guard Karon Abraham continued to excel while senior forward Rob Robinson had a strong week. Colonials have now hit double figures in the win column nine consecutive seasons.
Sacred Heart – Defeated Bryant and lost to Central Connecticut. Sacred Heart saw an 18-point lead cut to five against Bryant. Junior guard Jerrell Thompson then canned a trey with just under two minutes to play to give the Pioneers breathing room en route to the win. Thompson had a career high 13 points that game and was 3 of 3 from beyond the arc. Loss to CCSU snapped a four game win streak against the Blue Devils.
St. Francis (NY) – Went a perfect 3-0 with victories over Columbia, Mount St. Mary’s and Wagner. Junior guard Ricky Cadell averaged 19.7 PPG during the week. Cadell had help as another junior guard, Akeem Bennett averaged 15.0 PPG while adding 5.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists for the week. Terriers have won four of five and interestingly enough, have yet to score 70 points this season. Defense is the key as they limited opponents to 57.6 PPG during that five-game stretch and lead the NEC with a scoring defense mark of 65.0 PPG.
St. Francis (PA) – Lost at home to Monmouth and edged FDU. The win over FDU, also at home, snapped a three game losing streak for the Red Flash. Senior forward Devin Sweetney had a career high 15 rebounds against Monmouth. In the FDU game freshman guard Umar Shannon drove the length of the floor and was fouled with a second remaining. Shannon sank both shots to give the Red Flash the victory. Upcoming this week are return games at both Monmouth and FDU.
Wagner – Dropped games to LIU and St. Francis (NY). Seahawks are now in the midst of an eight game tail spin. Sophomore guard Chris Martin continues to lead Wagner in scoring with 12.9 PPG. Martin had 16 points in the St.Francis game. Completing the inside/outside combo is center Michael Orock. The Wagner senior leads the NEC with a 59% field goal percentage. Wagner trailed St. Francis by one with just under four minutes left. The Terriers then went on a 10-1 run to seal the verdict.