O26 Weekly Awards: Northern Iowa, Craig Bradshaw, Pat Duquette & Eastern Washington

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on December 1st, 2014

Throughout the season, the Other 26 microsite will run down our weekly superlatives, including team, player, coach and whatever else strikes our fancy in that week’s edition. 

O26 Team of the Week

Northern Iowa began the week in Cancun and ended it with a home victory over Richmond. (unipanthers.com)

Northern Iowa began the week in Cancun and ended it with a home victory over Richmond. (unipanthers.com)

Northern Iowa. With all of the marquee tournaments and showdowns taking place over the holiday weekend, it’s understandable if Northern Iowa’s trip to Mexico for the ‘Cancun Challenge’ was lost in the shuffle to some extent, especially considering the fellow competition: Virginia Tech, Northwestern and Miami (OH). If you did miss it, here’s a quick synopsis: after hammering Virginia Tech by 19 points, the Panthers held Northwestern to a paltry 0.76 points per possession and pounded the Wildcats by 21 to claim the championship. But although a tournament title is certainly a nice preseason prize, it’s not even the hardware that made Northern Iowa’s week so impressive. No, the reason Ben Jacobson’s club is our Team of the Week is because after delivering those back-to-back drubbings against high-major (if subpar) opponents, thousands of miles away from Cedar Falls, the Panthers flew back to the United States and kept the train rolling against an even better Richmond team. All signs pointed to a post-Thanksgiving, post-showcase letdown, especially against a tough, well-rounded Spiders unit ranked 54th in KenPom and boasting one of the Atlantic 10’s best guards in Kendall Anthony. But instead of coming out emotionally lethargic or physically fatigued or preoccupied with thoughts of warm resort towns, Northern Iowa took control of the game – just as it had in Cancun – and completely outclassed Richmond from start-to-finish, never once relinquishing the lead and defeating the Spiders, 55-50. In all, the Panthers maintained a lead for roughly 110 of 120 minutes this week against Virginia Tech, Northwestern and Richmond combined, a trio of dominant victories that has both propelled Jacobson’s unit to an impressive 7-0 start and further improved its at-large prospects.

Honorable Mentions: Gonzaga (2-0: N-Georgia, N-St. John’s); Green Bay (3-0: N-East Carolina, N-Evansville, N-Florida Gulf Coast); Colorado State (3-0: N-Missouri State, N-Pacific, N-UC Santa Barbara); Valparaiso (3-0: N-Drake, N-Murray State, N-Portland).

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An Open Letter To Cincinnati: Please Stop Scheduling Kennesaw State

Posted by Mike Lemaire on November 1st, 2013

Dear Mr. Babcock and Mr. Cronin,

Without knowing enough about the nuances that go into filling out a full non-conference schedule for your men’s basketball team, I do not envy that part of your job. I cannot imagine all the different factors that need to be taken into consideration and how much tireless negotiation goes on behind the scenes to make sure the schedule is set long in advance. I say all of this to acknowledge the fact that this part of your jobs can’t be easy; in fact, I bet it is a rather arduous and stressful process. That said, you took these jobs knowing full well it would be a part of your responsibilities and it is also your responsibility to put your basketball team in the best position to succeed while making sure you don’t break the bank to do so.

Nothing Says Statement Win Quite Like Beating Mississippi Valley State By 42.

Nothing Says Statement Win Quite Like Beating Mississippi Valley State By 42.

You guys aren’t oblivious. You must be able to recognize the pattern that has emerged in recent years. What was a woeful program in 2007 had become a consistent 20-game winner by 2011. In the last three seasons, the program has won more than 20 games every year, and yet every year, when March rolls around, you and your fans find yourselves sweating out Selection Sunday because the team finds itself on the bubble again. It doesn’t take a basketball expert to figure out why that is. It is because the strength of the program’s non-conference schedule has consistently ranked amongst the worst in the country and your end-of-season RPI inevitably suffers because of it.

We know you read KenPom, so both of you can plainly see  what we can — that the strength of your non-conference schedule has been a running joke for the past five seasons. From 2009 to 2013 it has ranked 236th, 166th, 327th, 274th, and 291st, respectively. This is not how you build an NCAA Tournament-worthy resume and one could easily make the argument that it is not how you prepare your team for a brutal conference schedule either.

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