Blogs > The Full-Court Press

The Trentonian's Full-Court Press blog is back and improved. We'll keep you updated on everything you need to know about Rider and Princeton hoops as well as the college basketball landscape.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Early exit

A few CBI links: 
The cover story in today's paper on the Broncs' loss at Old Dominion 
Virginia beat Richmond 66-64 and will face ODU in the quarter finals Monday. 
Ohio overcame a hefty deficit and beat Brown 80-74. 
If you're able to pick up the print edition of The Trentonian, look for a sidebar on the significance of Ryan Thompson's 24-point performance. I'd put up a link, but unless my sleep deprivation caused me to miss it, it isn't online. 
My last thought before I get some sleep here at the Richmond Holiday Inn: I went 7-for-8 on NIT picks, and despite Creighton falling into an 18-point hole, my Final Four is still fully alive. My only loss was Steve Rudenstein's Maryland Terrapins knocking off Minnesota. 
I guess you can't win 'em all. 
After a pit stop at the University of Richmond to visit a friend and console him after the Spiders' CBI loss, I'm heading back to Jersey tomorrow. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Monarchs win 68-65

Kam Warner and Justin Robinson both got off 3-point attempts in the final seconds with chances to tie it, but neither shot was close to going in. 
Rider's season is over with a 23-11 record. 
Virginia beat Richmond in the other East regional game, so the Monarchs and Cavaliers will battle for a spot in the CBI Final Four next Monday in Charlottesville. 

66-58, 4:45 left

Darius James' 3 with 5;11 left made it 66-56. Jason Thompson's basket with 5:00 left made it 66-58, but the Broncs desperately need to start getting some stops if they want to come back and win this. 

58-51, 7:27 left

Ryan Thompson (22 points) is carrying Rider, but ODU continues to be unrelenting offensively, answering Rider's every move. 

54-47 ODU, 10:08 left

Jason Thompson woke up and scored seven points in a three-minute span to help the Broncs stay in it, but ODU has had an answer for everything Rider has done. Most recently, Brandon Johnson hit a 3 to push the lead to sven with 10:34 left. 

40-35 ODU, 15:56 left

Harris Mansell kicked off the second-half scoring with a much-needed 3 from the left wing to make it 36-30 Monarchs 31 seconds into the half. 
Ben Finney answered with a pretty wrap-around layup off the glass to push the lead back to eight before Ryan Thompson's layup at the other end cut it back down to six. 
Next, Ryan Thompson hit a 3 from the left wing to cut it to three before Frank Hassell's dunk pushed it back to five with 16:25 left. 
Hassell ripped the ball out of Mike Ringgold's hands at the other end of the floor but stepped on the baseline, giving the ball back to the Broncs. 


One ugly stat sheet

It's tough to win any games -- but especially postseason games -- if any of the following numbers are on your stat sheet at the end of the first half: 
11 turnovers; 37 percent shooting; 57 percent free-throw shooting and a 26-12 disadvantage in points in the paint. 
In addition to all of that, the Broncs have been out-rebounded 20-18, outscored 8-2 in fast break points and outscored 13-0 in bench points. 
Jason Thompson only took three shots in the first half -- three fewer than Ryan Thompson (3-for-6), Mike Ringgold (2-for-6) and Justin Robinson (1-for-6). 
Frank Hassell, averaging 4.8 points coming in, has nine points on 4-of-7 shooting for the Monarchs, who shot 48.5 percent from the floor in the first half. 

36-27 ODU at the half

Abdi Lionde's 3 from the left wing made it 32-25, then Marsharee Neely's layup extended the lead to nine, and Neely's runner off the glass made it 11 less than a minute later. 
Mike Ringgold's putback with 27 seconds left made it 36-27. ODU failed to score on its final possession of the half, and the fans booed the officials as they walked off the court because no fouls were called despite some physical play under the basket. 
Ryan Thompson has 10 points to lead the Broncs. Jason Thompson has only four, while Mike Ringgold and Harris Mansell have five apiece. 
Frank Hassell has nine to lead the Monarchs. 

24-19, 6:37 left in the half

Ryan Thompson's running layup brought Rider to within two with 9:48 left. 
Frank Hassell got to the line on the ensuing possession for ODU and made one of two free-throws. 
Next, Harris Mansell hit a deep 3 from the right wing to tie it at 17 with 9:06 left and cause some in the crowd to groan in frustration.  
On the Broncs' next possession, Gerald Lee fouled Jason Thompson missed the front end of a one-and-one, but the Monarchs turned the ball over and Mansell's layup gave the Broncs their first lead with 8:01 left in the half. 
But Henderson hit a 3 from the left wing and Lee and Henderson scored on back-t0-back possessions to put the Monarchs back on top by five. 

16-12, 11:07 left

ODU's full-court and half-court pressure have already focred a few turnovers, including one on a five-second call when Brendan Johnson pressured Justin Robinson near the half-court line. 

12-6 Monarchs, 15:49 left in the first half

Rider is having a tough time stopping ODU in the paint, and the Monarchs have an early six-point lead. 

Good news, bad news

Good news: there's lasagna in the media room. 
Bad news: The ODU pep band is nothing special. They should get the Marist band to send them a CD to play over the PA system. 

Vying for victory in Virginia

Last weekend, The Blog brought you a blog-a-thon from the MAAC tournament in Albany. 
This won't be quite as extensive, but we'll keep you updated on all tonight's first-round CBI game between Rider and Old Dominion. 
This post comes to you from the Ted Constant Convention Center, which everyone in the Rider traveling party agreed is on a very short list of the nicest basketball arenas in the country. 
Built in 2002, it seats 8,424 -- perfect for the Colonial Athletic Association -- and is lined with luxury boxes above the stands. 
This should be a good one between two pretty evenly-matched teams. 
Rider (109) is 20 spots ahead of ODU in the RPI (129), but the Monarchs would have won 20 games with their eyes closed if they didn't play a brutal non-conference schedule that included back-to-back-to-back games against No. 1 North Carolina, then-No. 5 Georgetown and then-No. 6 Louisville. 
And the CAA, with VCU and George Mason atop the regular season standings, is no cupcake conference either. 
The winner of tonight's game gets the winner of tonight's Richmond-Virginia game in the CBI quarterfinals next Monday. 
There are five trumpets and two trombones on seats behind one of the baskets, so I'm assuming the Monarchs' band is in the house somewhere. I hope they're good, but boy, do I miss the Marist band. 

Oh my, it's the CBI

So what if the beginning of my story in today's paper got cut off before it was posted online? The story's still here, with a preview of tonight's CBI first-round game between Rider and Old Dominion. 
It's the first postseason game for the Broncs since the first round of the 1998 NIT. The Monarchs are a lot more familiar with postseason play, having been to the NCAA tournament in two of the previous three seasons. 
The winner moves on to the quarterfinals to take on the winner of tonight's game between Richmond and Virginia. (The East region might as well be called the Virginia-plus-Rider region because three of the four teams are from the Commonwealth; that brings me to a quick aside: there are six Virginia teams scattered across three postseason tournaments: George Mason in the NCAA, Virginia Tech and VCU in the NIT, and Virginia, Richmond and Old Dominion in the CBI.)
If Rider and Richmond both win, the quarterfinal game will be at the Broncs' Zoo. 
Here's a link to the CBI bracket so you can follow all the action easily. 
Houston plays at Nevada tonight in a West regional first-round game and Brown plays at Ohio, which begs the question: how in the name of Chris Berman did Brown get put in the Midwest regional? 
I figured there wouldn't be enough interest to have a CBI pool along the lines of the MAAC tournament pool we had, but if anyone would potentially be interested in doing one next year, e-mail me at rutgersfootballblog@gmail.com. If there's enough interest, we'll at least throw the idea out there next year. 
As for other for-fun-only pools, I'm in an NIT pool for the second straight year, looking to avenge a pitiful performance last year, when both my finalists got knocked out in the first our second rounds. 
My picks this year: Illinois State, VCU, Creighton and UMass in the Final Four at the Garden, with Illinois State beating UMass in the championship game. 
I'm actually considering not filling out an NCAA bracket so I can just enjoy the tournament without having to worry about which teams I need to root for in order to have a chance at winning the pool. 
Anyone else doing that? 
We're about 5 1/2 hours from tip. I'll check in when I get to the arena later on. 

Monday, March 17, 2008

Bracket is done; Broncs at ODU Tuesday

It took almost five hours after the NIT field was announced, but the Gazelle Group has finally ended the wait and given us a bracket
The mystery 16th team happens to be Rider's first-round opponent: Old Dominion. 
The Broncs and Monarchs will play at ODU on Tuesday night. Tip time is to be determined. 
The Monarchs (17-15) finished fourth in the Colonial Athletic Association, behind Virginia Commonwealth, George Mason and UNC-Wilmington. 
They have an RPI of 129 -- 20 spots below Rider (109), so I'm not sure what factors went into ODU getting the better seed and the home game. 
With that, I'm gonna get some sleep, then hopefully make it into the City tomorrow for the St. Patrick's Day parade. 
Many thanks to everyone who followed along and chipped in with their thoughts on the CBI. 

Some more teams, still no bracket

First, thanks to all the readers who have followed along, and especially to those who have left comments. And thanks to reader Jon Solomon, who has been right on top of the news as it's come in regarding teams have accepted CBI bids. 
As Jon told us, and as has been reported on a few web sites, Valparaiso has accepted a bid. We also reportedly have our first solidified first-round matchup. The Tulsa World is reporting that the Golden Hurricane will host Miami of Ohio, which reveals another team and gets our list up to 15. So far our teams are Rider, Utah, UTEP, Virginia, Ohio, Brown, Bradley, Nevada, Richmond, Cincinnati, Washington, Houston, Tulsa, Valpo and  Miami of Ohio. 

Still some missing pieces

Jeez. 
I know it's the first year that the Gazelle Group has put this tournament together. But the guys in Princeton have had almost four hours since the NIT field was announced, and we still don't have a full bracket or even any solidified first-round matchups. 
Here, though, is what we know. Based on information from newspaper web sites and blogs, 12 teams have accepted bids, including Rider. 
The other teams that have reportedly accepted bids are Utah, Virginia, UTEP, Ohio, Cincinnati, Washington, Houston, Bradley, Nevada, Richmond and Brown. 
Alabama and New Mexico State have rejected invitations and Wake Forest made it clear yesterday that it was not interested. 
I talked to Tommy Dempsey about 45 minutes ago and he still was unsure when or where the Broncs were playing. All he was sure of was that the Broncs would have an away game, meaning they will be a No. 3 or No. 4 seed in one of the four regionalized brackets. 
I've paid too much attention to this situation today to go to bed before the bracket comes out, so I'll have another post when the CBI committee finally produces something concrete.  

Rider is in

Just got a text from Tommy Dempsey: Rider is in the CBI. He said he isn't sure where the Broncs are going. 
More later. 

NMSU says no

According to the Las Cruces Sun-News, New Mexico State joined Alabama on the list of teams that have turned down a CBI bid. 
The NMSU athletic director told the paper that it wouldn't make financial sense for the school to host a game because it would cost the school $60,000 to host the even and he was unsure if ticket revenues would be able to pay for it. 
Other than having teams like New Mexico State turn down bids, I'm not sure what's taking the CBI committee so long to pick the field of 16, but I'll pass along the information regarding Rider as soon as I get it. 

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Couple more teams

Here's the list right now of teams that have accepted CBI bids, according to internet reports published in the last hour: Virginia, Utah, UTEP, Ohio, Brown, Houston, Cincinnati and Washington. 
That's half the field. The question is: will Rider be included in the other half? We should know very shortly -- hopefully within the next couple of minutes. 

UTEP in

According to the El Paso Times, add UTEP to the list of teams invited to the CBI. The paper reported five minutes ago that the Minors will play a home game against an opponent to be determined. 

News should be coming soon

Just got off the phone with Mike from the Gazelle Group, who told me the field should be finalized by midnight. As soon as they have a bracket, they'll post it on their web site. 
All Mike knew about Rider was that the Broncs were under consideration. 
It has also been reported that Alabama declined a CBI bid, which opens at least one more spot. 
And it appears the Gazelle Group was unsuccessful in its attempt to persuade any teams to ditch the NIT in favor of the CBI. 

Some CBI news, but none about Rider

A collection of reports on newspaper web sites tells us that the following teams have accepted CBI bids: Utah, Ohio, Virginia and Brown. 
The reports are that Utah and Ohio accepted bids within the past hour, but that Virginia and Brown accepted bids yesterday on the condition that they were not included in the NIT field. 

Still no word

It's been about an hour and a half since the NIT field was announced on ESPN2, and there's still no word on the CBI. 
I exchanged a few texts with Tommy Dempsey earlier tonight, and he said he'd let me know when he knew whether the Broncs' season would continue when he found out. 
I'm looking forward to finding out and will pass on information as soon as I get it. 

No NIT for Rider

Nothing unexpected, but that means it's CBI or nothing for the Broncs. 
I'm not sure what the exact timetable is for the CBI field, but I'll post something as soon as I know what's going on. 

Two brackets down, still no Rider

Two more to go; so far Mike Scullin's projections at NITology.com are perfect. 

NIT show under way

Looks like with the turn of events that took place over the last couple days, including several mid-major teams being upset in conference tournaments and Georgia's SEC title knocking another team down to the NIT, its unlikely Rider will be included here. 
But we'll see ... 

More projections

Mike Scullin's NIT and CBI bracket projections are done and Rider isn't in either field. 
Since this is the first time the CBI has picked a field, it may be a little trickier to see who ends up in the tournament. One factor to keep in mind is that unlike the NIT, the CBI is not run by the NCAA and is under no obligation to pick teams with better resumes over teams with better drawing power. 
So Rider could benefit from the drawing power of Jason Thompson more when the CBI picks its field than a team with a better RPI but no potential first-round draft picks. 
But if Mike proves close to as good at picking the NIT and CBI fields as he was picking the NCAA field, Rider could be in trouble. 
He got 64 out of the 65 NCAA teams right, with his only error being picking Virginia Tech as an NCAA team and leaving Villanova out. 

The bracket

Here's a link. 

Reax?

The Blog is taking a two-hour breather until the NIT selection show at 9. But let's hear some thoughts on the brackets. Who does everyone have in the Final Four? Which teams could be sleepers? Does Siena have a shot to become the first MAAC team since Manhattan in 2004 to win an NCAA game? Which teams that were left out should have been included? And what's going to happen to Rider? 
Any opinions are welcome. 

NITology has Rider out

For what it's worth, Mike Scullin of NITology.com projects that Georgia's win in the SEC title game will knock Rider out of the CBI field. 
Scullin correctly projected that Illinois State would fall down to the NIT. His projection is that Akron will fall down to the CBI and knock out Rider. 
But that's just a projection. 
The NIT selection show is at 9 p.m. on ESPN2, after the talking heads have dissected every last NCAA game. 

Baylor in; UConn a 4

Great to see Baylor -- what SI called the "Good News Bears" -- make it to the Big Dance just a few years after the upheaval that took place there and all the turmoil the school has gone through. 
I'm surprised UConn got a 4 seed; thought the Huskies would probably be a 5 or even a 6. But Drake in the second round will be a tough draw. I don't think I'll have the Huskies getting past that game in my bracket. 

Sweet 16 for Siena?

Seth Davis non-shalantly said he thought Siena would beat Vandy and at least advance to the second round. 
As much as I respect Davis and the rest of the CBS crew, these guys get paid to throw around upset talk like that, and often get fewer picks correct than people who have never watched college basketball. 
But it's interesting that he said that, and it'd be great for the MAAC if it turns out he's right. 

Nova in; Siena a 13

Villanova squeezed its way in as a 12 seed in the Midwest, while Siena got a 13 seed in the same region and will play Vanderbilt in the first round. The MAAC champion is three spots higher than it was last year, when Niagara not only was a 16 seed but got stuck in the play-in game. 

Heels-Vols?

Good point by Seth Davis: Tennessee, which blew its shot at a top seed by losing in the SEC semifinals to Arkansas, was paired in the East region with North Carolina, setting up a potential Heels-Vols showdown for a trip to San Antonio. 
That is, of course, if the Vols can get past a potential second-round road game against 10th-seeded South Alabama in Birmingham. 

Here we go

Strange as it seems, but Georgia's win in the SEC title game could have an effect on Rider by knocking a would-be at-large NCAA team down to the NIT and a would-be NIT team down to the CBI. 
But we're hours away from the NIT and CBI selections, so we'll have to see. 
Tough to argue with the top seeds in the Big Dance: North Carolina, Memphis, UCLA and Kansas. 

The Big Day

Few days other than Christmas are more highly anticipated than this one. 
It's Selection Sunday, and as I type, the selection committee is making some last-minute adjustments to its bracket and preparing contingency plans in case the unexpected happens in conference title games this afternoon. 
If you're a Bubble team, you're rooting hard this afternoon for Wisconsin to beat Illinois in the Big 10 title game and for Arkansas to beat Georgia for the SEC title. If the Illini and Dawgs -- both below .500 -- crash the NCAA party, two Bubble teams will get knocked down to the NIT. 
In fact, if you're a Rider fan, you have reason to root for Illiniois and Georgia to lose also. 
Why? 
Because with sub-.500 records, they're either going to the NCAA tournament (and knocking two bubble teams down to the NIT) or nowhere. 
So if they were both to win, the domino effect could go far enough to knock Rider all the way out of the CBI. 
NITology.com's latest projection -- updated before today's games -- is for the Broncs to be the last team invited to the CBI. 
Will that happen? We'll know by the end of today -- a day that is both exciting and excruciating. 
...
And for those looking for some reading material, here's  a link to my game story on last night's Princeton-Yale ECAC quarterfinal hockey game from today's Trentonian. 

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Yale wins 4-3

Princeton scored in the final minute to make it a game, but the Bulldogs will live to see another day. 
Game Three is tomorrow at 7 p.m. here at the Bake. 

Empty net

With 2:52 left, Yale still leads 4-2 and Princeton is going with six skaters after pulling Zane Kalemba. 
So far, the Tigers have had a few opportunities but haven't been able to light the lamp. 

4-2 Dogs after 2

What a difference 30 minutes makes. 
After shutting out Yale last night, Princeton looked in command after taking a 2-0 lead, but back came the Bulldogs.
We were tied up at 2 after the first period, but the second stanza was all Yalies. 
Just 18 seconds into the period, Brendan Mason tipped a rebound past Zane Kalemba to put the Dogs ahead 3-2. 
With 9:42 left in the period, Yale scored on a pretty piece of puck-movement. Denny Kearney corralled the puck on the left wing, turned and put a pass right on the tape of Broc Little, who sprinted in from the point, took the pass right in front of the crease and deflected it past Kalemba to put Yale up by two. 
There were seven penalties in the first period, but the second period was much cleaner and more quickly moving. 
If Yale holds on, the teams will be back here for a decisive Game Three tomorrow night. 
And in the wonderful world of college hoops, Temple (A10) and UCLA (Pac 10) won their respective  conference championships, while Tennessee got clipped by Arkansas in the SEC semis. 
The Vols' loss likely opens the door for Georgetown to earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament if the Hoyas beat Pitt in the Big East championship game, which tips in 32 minutes. 
This, ladies and gentlemen, is why March is the coolest month on the calendar. 

Bulldogs come back

Jean-Francois Boucher scored on a rebound with 7:52 left in the first period and we're all tied at 2. 

Bulldogs come back

Jean-Francois Boucher scored on a rebound with 7:52 left in the first period and we're all tied at 2. 

2-0 Tigers

With 10:46 left in the first period Princeton has scored a pair of power play goals to take the lead. Looks like the Yalies might be in serious trouble.

This and that

Couple orders of business before the puck drops at 7:
  • Tomorrow is Selection Sunday, and the TCHB will have all the news and analysis on Rider as soon as we know where the Broncs are going (assuming they're going SOMEWHERE) and who they're playing. We'll break down the NCAA and NIT fields and if the Broncs are in the CBI, we'll take a close look at that bracket is well. It'll be CBIology at its finest. 
  • Both pep bands are here, but they're at the opposite end of the ice from the press box. The band music is also coming out over the PA system, but it seems like the acoustics here at the Bake aren't great. Either way, the Princeton band has cool uniforms, with orange jackets and cool hats. 
  • The award for the most exciting hoops of the day goes to the ACC, which produced a thriller between Virginia Tech and North Carolina and an upset when Clemson knocked off Duke. It'll be interesting to see what happens in tonight's Georgia-Mississippi State game, in which the Dawgs are playing for the second time today after knocking off Kentucky this morning in a game postponed by last night's tornado. 
  • The Yale band opened with "Born to be Wild." It's not bad, but can we get the Marist band in here to show them how it's supposed to be done? 

Hockey anyone?

Watching basketball on TV but dying to know what's going on in the ECAC hockey playoffs?
The TCHB just might have what you're looking for. 
Pending cooperation from the wireless network here at Baker Rink, The Blog will do its best to keep you updated on Princeton and Yale, who are set to face off in Game 2 of their best-of-three quarterfinal series. 
The Tigers won 3-0 last night in Game One and are looking to advance to the semifinals at the Times Union Center in Albany. 
A win by the Bulldogs would force a decisive Game Three tomorrow night. 

Super Saturday

Here's a link to my column in today's paper about Rider's NIT hopes 
Today is one of my favorite days of the year in college basketball. Its the last day before Selection Sunday and it has more meaningful conference tournament games than anyone could ask for, topped off by the Big East championship game at 9 p.m. on ESPN -- in this year's case, a rematch of last year's title game between Pittsburgh and Georgetown. 
I'll have to DVR the Big East game because I'm covering the Princeton-Yale ECAC tournament hockey game at 7. 
There's also a game with local interest: Saint Joe's and Temple in the A-10 championship game. The winner gets the conference's automatic bid, while the loser will likely still be in the mix for an at-large bid. 

Friday, March 14, 2008

NITology

Yesterday, I blogged a little bit about Rider's NIT chances and got this good bit of feedback from a reader who felt I was too generous to the Broncs when I said I would probably include them as a No. 8 seed were I on the NIT committee:
  • As for Rider's resume - it's putrid. Overall RPI of 110, which is not terrible (but far higher than the last at-large NiT team last year, which was Hofstra with an RPI of 76). However, overall strength of schedule of 253 (compared to Siena's of 118) and an out of conference RPI of 151 and out of conference strength of schedule of 291 (that's embarassing). Siena on the other hand has an out of conference RPI of 56 with an out of conference strength of schedule of 18. Siena's 22-10 record is light year's better than Rider's 23-10 when you dig a little to see who they've played.
Today, I set out to write a column detailing the Broncs' situation, and as I did a little more homework, I tended to lean more toward agreeing with what that reader wrote. 
After having looked at a lot of data and a cool web site we'll get to later on, I'm really on the fence. In my column in Saturday's Trentonian, I laid out all the pros and cons. Right now, I think the cons probably outweigh the pros, but I think its pretty close. 
I also considered some of the things I heard when I went to a lecture the other day given by Princeton athletic director Gary Walters, who was the chair of the 207 NCAA men's basketball committee. 
He gave a presentation detailing what the selection committee looks at when determining who to include in the NCAA tournament. The NIT committee uses the same data to make the same decisions regarding teams that are not included in the NCAA field. 
His take on the RPI is one that I think we all need to keep in mind: rather than a measure of absolute strength, it is merely a general measure of relative strength. 
There are plenty of holes in the formula, including no variable for home-court advantage and no weight to how well a team is playing at the end of the season, or as Walters put it, playing on an ascending curve instead of a descending curve. 
With that in mind, the RPI numbers on Rider can be a little misleading because they fail to take into consideration that the Broncs went 15-4 over their past 19 games. They also don't take into account that the Broncs played their last two games at far less than 100 percent, with Ryan Thompson on the bench with a concussion and Harris Mansell and Justin Robinson both playing on sprained ankles. 
Lastly, the Broncs' RPI is  hurt because Penn State, healthy in November when it lost to Rider, got bit by the injury bug and suffered late in the season, thus hurting Rider's strength of schedule. And Rider's loss to Drexel wasn't harmful at the time, but became much more harmful as the Dragons stumbled through their conference schedule and watched their RPI slip into the mid-200s. 
But the points that reader made about Rider's strength of schedule are well taken, and they made me think a little bit more prior to writing my column. And it should also be noted that while Rider's RPI would have improved if Penn State, Drexel and Rutgers won some more games, every other team in the country could use similar logic to argue their cases. 
As I started doing research, I came across a cool web site that I had never heard of: NITology.com.
It's run by Mike Scullin, a student at Saint Joe's who started it during the 2005-06 season. Last year, Mike correctly picked 29 out of the 32 teams in the NIT field. 
This year, as you can see by clicking on the link, he has the Broncs as a bubble team on the outside looking in. 
Click on the bracket link and you'll see that it includes Mike's projections for the CBI field. He has Rider as a 3 seed in the CBI, playing at Virginia in the first round. 
Mike also addressed the real wild card in trying to predict who will go where: with a financial package that, according to the Gazelle Group's Rick Giles is more lucrative than the NIT, there is a possibility that some teams will be selected for the NIT but chose to play in the CBI instead. 
Since this is the first year of the CBI, it's hard to tell how many, if any, teams will do that. But it's one more factor that could influence where Rider ends up. 
One bad sign for the Broncs is that of the 45 teams Mike has listed as candidates for at-large NIT bids, all but two have a higher RPI than them.
 Even given the concerns we talked about regarding RPI, that might be enough to keep them out of the field of 32. 
But if RPI were a perfect indicator (or even a nearly perfect indicator) of where teams went in tournaments, the No. 1 seeds in his hypothetical NIT field would be the teams with the top four RPI ratings. That's not the case, but in general, the teams with the best RPIs are included in his mock field, and those with lower RPIs are not. 
Here's a look at the field he had entering Friday's games, with each team's RPI. Obviously, this field will change depending on who wins conference tournaments. In fact, Saint Joe's, by virtue of its upset over Xavier, could get an at-large NCAA bid anyway. But for now, this is what we have, so this is what we'll look at. 
No. 1 seeds: Saint Joe's (50), Arizona State (81), Villanova (51), Florida (62)
No. 2 seeds: Syracuse (52), Maryland (82), Ole Miss (48), UMass (43)
No. 3 seeds: Dayton (32) , Creighton (49), New Mexico (58) , VCU (55)
No. 4 seeds: UAB (54), Texas Tech (65), Florida State (62), Oklahoma State (75)
No. 5 seeds: Southern Illinois (61), Cal (86), Charlotte (66), Rhode Island (75)
No. 6 seeds: Cleveland State (64), Georgia Tech (69), Miami of Ohio (73), Nevada (71) 
No. 7 seeds: IUPUI (74), San Diego State (76), Houston (78), Nebraska (92)
No. 8 seeds: Wake Forest (97), Minnesota (101), Robert Morris (134), UNC-Asheville (143)
On the outside looking in: 
Ohio (83), Akron (84), Wright State (87), Sam Houston State (90), UTEP (93), Cal State Fullerton (94), Valparaiso (96), Utah (98), Boise State (100), Bradley (103), Seton Hall (109), Rider (110), Missouri (112), Washington (118). 

Those numbers don't look great for Rider, but having tied Siena for the regular season title and posted the best point differential in conference play of any MAAC team, they certainly are worthy of consideration. 
The more points of view, the merrier, so feel free to chime in no matter what your take on the situation is. 

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Tournaments and Tim O'Toole

Nothing huge going on, but a couple of things certainly worth blogging about: 
  • A link to my story in The Trentonian about Rider's NIT hopes. My take on the situation: Were I on the NIT selection committee, I'd put the Broncs in as an eight seed. With 23 wins, a co-championship in a fairly strong mid-major conference and far more quality wins (Penn State, at Siena, at Rutgers if you want to count it) than bad losses (at Drexel is the worst they had and even that isn't THAT damaging) I think they're more deserving than a team like Seteon Hall, which went 17-15 and has a slightly better RPI. So that's what I think SHOULD happen. What do I think WILL happen? It's tough to say, especially since conference tournaments are still going on and the list of teams with automatic NIT bids isn't finalized. But I think the Broncs are right on the bubble and will either be one of the last teams in or the last teams out. 
  • If they're one of the last teams out, they're probably heading for the inaugural College Basketball Invitational. I put in a call to Rick Giles, the president of the Gazelle Group, which is running the tournament, and should be able to get you a story some time later this week. For now though, here's a link to the tournament web site
  • I went to the Big East tournament yesterday with fellow Trentonian staffer Eleazer Gorenstein just to sit in the stands and watch. We ended up missing all of the Villanova-Syracuse game (long story), but I saw a good game between West Virginia and Providence, in which the Mountaineers trailed almost throughout but rallied to hand the Friars a loss that may have cost Tim Welsh his job. But the most interesting part of my trip had nothing to do with the Big East. The most interesting part was that ...
  • After the game, I went in to Borders to look at some books. As I was coming out, I saw an old acquaintance who played a major role in the beginning of my career as a sportswriter: former Fairfield coach Tim O'Toole, who's now a studio analyst at SNY. I hadn't seen Tim since the night he announced he had essentially been fired (technically his contract wasn't renewed) after a first-round loss in the 2006 MAAC tournament in Albany. He was in a hurry, so we didn't have a long time to talk, but I told him about this gig in Trenton and he told me what I had read online but hadn't thought much about: he is a candidate for the head coaching job at NJIT. 
  • My take on the NJIT gig: With no conference affiliation, no tradition, no real recruiting base other than one that is shared with many other schools and a team that went winless for an entire season, you can make a strong argument that it's the single worst head coaching job in the country. Having said that, if I were in Tim's shoes, I'd be itching for the opportunity. Here are two reasons why: 1) Sure, it's not exactly Duke. But it's a Division I head coaching job. There are thousands of coaches who would like to have one of those and only 341 each year who actually have one. So it beats the hell out of sitting behind a desk all day. 2) If he gets the job, he can't take the program anywhere but up. Even if the Highlanders only win two games next year, that'd be a two-game improvement over what they had this year, and whoever coaches them to those wins will get at least some kind of credit. With such low expectations, the school would have to give him a minimum of three years to get things going in the right direction. Were he to succeed, his coaching career would be back on track. Were he to fail, it would be no worse off than it is now, and he could tell people, with good reason, that it was simply impossible to succeed in that situation. 
  • As I wrote in this 2006 column in the Fairfield Mirror immediately after his last game, I was sorry to see him go. With that said, I think if Fairfield is a serious contender for the MAAC title in the next two years -- which I think will happen -- there will be near unanimity that Gene Doris made the right decision by making a change and bringing in Ed Cooley, who I also like a great deal and who I think has the program headed in the right direction. 
I don't know of anyone associated with Fairfield basketball of whom more people have an opinion, either positive or negative, than Tim O'Toole. I'm sure there are dozens of Fairfield and MAAC fans out there with plenty to say about the Stags' former economics student, player and coach. So let's hear some of them! What does everyone out there think about the possibility of him returning to the sidelines? 

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The OTHER selection show

The NIT selection show is at 9 p.m. Sunday night on ESPN. 
Will Rider's name be called? 
I'm not sure, but Tommy Dempsey is putting on a full-court lobbying press, listing the different reasons he believes the Broncs are worthy of a postseason berth. 
I talked on the phone with Dempsey last night and wrote a story for tomorrow's Trentonian about it. 
The story has more details, but a couple points Dempsey made were the following: 
  • Jason Thompson is a major drawing card, and he deserves to be showcased in the NIT. 
  • If you're going to reward regular season champions by awarding them automatic NIT bids, it would make sense to amend the rule to allow teams that earn co-championships, such as Rider, to get automatic bids if the teams with which they shared the championship (Siena) go to the NCAA tournament and thus, don't need the bid. 
  • The NIT committee should take teams that really WANT to be in the NIT over teams from BCS conferences that consider the NIT a second-class tournament for NCAA rejects. 
Selfishly, I hope the Broncs get a bid. Covering college basketball is my favorite part of my job at The Trentonian, and I don't want it to be over. 
Having said that, I think there's a pretty good chance that if the Broncs are not selected, they'll get a bid to the inaugural 16-team College Basketball Invitational -- or as Trentonian Assistant Sports Editor Matthew Osborne has taken to calling it, "T3." 
I've got some more tournament hoops on the schedule today, but there won't be any blogging involved because I'm going to the Big East tournament as a fan. 
I'll be at the first session, which includes Villanova-Syracuse at noon and West Virginia-Providence at 2:30. 
ESPN has the telecast. 

Monday, March 10, 2008

Ballgames over!

I had a GREAT time at this tournament, but after five 12-plus hour days, it's time to bring the MAAC tournament blog-a-thon to a close. 
We've watched, blogged and discussed 18 games, from the women's play-in round Thursday through tonight's championship game. 
A heart-felt thanks to everyone who followed along on The Blog and to everyone who participated in our first MAAC tournament pool. 
And congratulations to Keith Connors for winning the pool and a free t-shirt of his favorite college basketball team. 
Tommy Dempsey lobbied during his postgame press conference for an NIT bid, and while I'm not sure if they'll get one, a bid in the inaugural College Basketball Invitational seems likely if they don't. 
Siena, meanwhile, is likely to get a 14 seed in the NCAA tournament and face a 3-seed to be determined. That's where the Saints are in ESPN's  latest bracketology, and I think they're there for good reason: they won 22 games and the championship in a fairly strong conference, and they beat a top-10 team in Stanford early in the season. Those credentials are good enough to avoid a 15, but they lost too many games -- including some to lackluster opponents like Manhattan -- to warrant a 13 or higher. 
Tomorrow's Trentonian is loaded with MAAC stuff -- four stories in total -- so be sure to check that out. 
With that, I'm going to pack up and head back to New Jersey. 
Thanks again for reading! 

Saints win 74-53

The Siena students stormed the court in jubilation after the buzzer sounded. 
Rider's season could be over with a 23-10 record, but an NIT bid is a possibility. 

Blowout City

71-47 with 3:54 left. 
Just filled out my all-tournament team/MVP  ballot: 
All-tourney team: Jason Thompson, Harris Mansell, Alex Franklin, Tay Fisher, Kenny Hasbrouck
MVP: Edwin Ublies

66-47, 5:21 left

The Siena student section just serenaded Tay Fisher with a rendition of "happy birthday."
NIT for Rider is a possibility. 

Getting out of hand

Edwin Ubilies hit a floater to make it 56-45, Tay Fisher hit another 3, then Kenny Hasbrouck hit a jumper to make it 61-45 with 8:18 left.

54-45, 10:19 left

Kam Warner's 3 kept it from getting out of hand. 
Jason Thompson has 20 points. He'll get consideration for MVP even if the Broncs lose. 

49-40, 12:14 left

Jason Thompson (18 points) is keeping Rider in the game. 
He scored four points in the past two minutes, and Rider also got a big offensive rebound and a big basket from Matt Griffin. 
On Thompson's most recent basket, he elbowed Josh Duell in the head, knocking Duell over. Duell was down on the floor for about 30 seconds before getting up. 
The crowd booed as if Thompson had intentionally bunched him below the belt. 
Attendance is 9,279 for this game and 44,591 for the tournament -- the highest attendance since 2000. 
My take: the tournament should be here every year, even though it gives Siena an undeniable and unfair advantage. 

47-34 Saints, 15:41 left

Josh Duell opened the scoring in the second half with a jumper to make it 43-30 with 19:16 left. 
Mike Ringgold answered with a layup that made it 43-32 and Justin Robinson followed with a floater to make it 43-34. But Edwin Ubilies and Kenny Hasbrouck scored on consecutive possessions for the Saints, who lead by 13. 
A championship is within Siena's grasp. 
I'd be inclined to say it's over, but I thought there was no way Siena would come back from a 17-point deficit yesterday against Loyola, but somehow, it happened. 

41-30 Saints at the half

After being fouled by Harris Mansell while attempting a 3, Tay Fisher hit all three free throws to make it 37-26 with 3:31 left. 
If this keeps up, Siena is 20 minutes way from the Big Dance and barring an unexpected NIT bid, Rider is 20 minutes from elimination. 
Mike Ringgold scored in traffic and was fouled with 3:10 left, but to the surprise of no one, he missed the free throw. 
Fisher finally missed  shot on the Saints' ensuing possession. 
Next, Jason Thompson was fouled on the floor. He went to the line to shoot 1-and-1, but for some reason, no Rider players lined up on the blocks. 
Ronald Moore then scored on back-to-back possessions and Fisher -- that man again -- got defensive rebounds on consecutive possessions. 
Jason Thompson finally stopped the bleeding with a baby hook in the lane to make it 41-30 with 13 seconds left. 
Ronald Moore missed a fade-away baseline jumper at the buzzer, so the Saints lead by 11 at the half. 
Per custon, the Siena band played "when the Saints go marching in" as the teams trotted off the court. 

34-26 Saints, 3:31 left in the half

Tay Fisher is celebrating his 22nd birthday by killing Rider. 
The senior shooting guard has hit three 3s -- all from nearly the same spot on the left wing -- in the past three minutes, and with 3:31 left in the Saints have all the momentum. 

23-19 Saints, 7:44 left in the half

Jason Thompson can't do this by himself. 
Thompson's layup gave the Broncs a 15-13 lead with 10:39 left, and his baseline jumper with 8:56 left put the Broncs ahead again 19-18. But Edwin Ubilies hit a 3 from the right wing that got the crowd into it, and Josh De La Rosa followed with a floater in the lane to make it 23-19 with 8:03 left. 

13-13, 11:24 left in the half

Harris Mansell hit a 3 from the left wing with 13:31 left after a nice shot fake got Kenny Hasbrouck to jump too early. 
Edwin Ubilies answered with an up-and-under layup with 12:06 left to tie it at 13. 
Next, Jason Thompson blocked Ubiles' attempted layup and Alex Franklin was whistled for a foul. 
Thompson is again dominating on the boards. On at least two occasions, he's gotten a hand on the ball and tipped it to himself. He's four inches taller than any Siena player, so expect to see a lot more of that. 
As much as Rider likes to run, the Broncs need to slow this one down a little. Siena gave Loyola hits yesterday in the second half when the Saints' full court pressure was effective, and that enabled them to overcome a 17-point first-half deficit and win 65-63. 

11-10 Saints with 14:29 left in the first half

More play by play: 
  • Layup by Edwin Ubilies; 9-7 Saints
  • 3 by Jason Thompson from the top of the key; 10-9 Broncs
  • Putback by Alex Franklin; 11-10 Saints
Mike Ringgold just got called for a charge under the basket to give the ball back to Siena. 
Siena cheerleaders provided the entertainment at the under-16 media timeout. 
Wer're in for a heckuva battle. 

7-7 with 16:21 left in the first half

The scoring so far: 
  • Layup by Mike Ringgold, 2-0 Broncs
  • Another Ringgold layup; 4-0 Broncs
  • 3 from the top of the key by Josh Duell; 4-3
  • 3 from the right wing by Matt Griffin; 7-3
  • Jumper from the top of the key by Edwin Ubiles; 7-5
As expected, Siena is using a full-court zone press to put pressure on the Broncs. 
Justin Robinson just checked in to the game for the first time. 

Lineups

Rider: Matt Griffin, Lamar Johnson, Harris Mansell, Mike Ringgold, Jason Thompson
Siena: Ronald Moore, Kenny Hasbrouck, Edwin Ubiles, Alex Franklin, Josh Duell. 

Getting closer

Rider just took the court to raucous cheers and chants from the Broncs' student section and boos from the rest of the arena, which is filling up and figures to be a sea of green and gold by the time we get started in about 12 minutes. 
Siena will wear yellow for the second straight game after wearing white in its first game of the tournament. 
The Broncs are in their road cranberry unis for the first time in the tournament since this is the first game in which they are not the higher seed. 

Pool standings

One way or another, The Fairfield Mirror will come away a winner in the TCHB tournament pool. If Siena wins, the prize goes to online sports editor Keith Connors. If Rider wins, the blog will finish with more points than any of the applicants, but the free t-shirt will go to Mirror sports editor Tom Cleary for besting the rest of the field. Tonight's game is worth 16 points in the pool. 
The standings: 
34 points -- Keith
30 -- Rich, The Blog 
28 -- Tom 
22 -- Mike, Antonio 
20 -- Bill, Brendan 
18 -- Rory, Scott
14 -- Chris 

Two hours from tip time

Good afternoon from the Times Union Center, where Rider and Siena will play tonight for the MAAC tournament title and an automatic NCAA tournament berth. 
Both teams held open practices today, so I caught up with both Fran McCaffery and Tommy Dempsey. 
The news on Justin Robinson is similar to yesterday: he will dress, but whether he will play is yet to be determined. 
Dempsey said that yesterday, Robinson could go through basic drills, but that he couldn't cut or jump. 
Today he participated in the Broncs' walkthrough, but there was no cutting and not much jumping involved. 
He'll be a game-time decision, but I'd expect Matt Griffin to start again at point guard no matter what. 
Griffin had four assists and only one turnover in 34 minutes during last night's 76-71 semifinal win over Marist. 
Tonight's game is on ESPN2, and I ran into Jay Bilas last night in the hotel lobby. 
As I had heard from multiple people, he's a really nice guy. 
Sean McDonough, Bill Raftery and Bilas -- for my $0.02 the best broadcast team ESPN has -- will call the game. 
My introduction to sports was watching the Red Sox on Sunday afternoons on WSBK-TV, with McDonough and Bob Montgomery calling the action. 
But if you're able to watch the game, keep your computer near by so you can follow along on the blog. 

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Broncs win 76-71

One of the best games I've seen this year and without question the best individual performance of the year by Jason Thompson, who finished with 32 points and 18 rebounds. 
Broncs-Saints tonight at 7 on ESPN2. 

74-70 with 12.2 ticks left

Ben Farmer's 3 gave fans reason to stay in their seats. 

On the cusp

With 21.6 seconds left Rider has a five-point lead and the ball. 
Louie McCroskey just airmailed a pass over Ben Farmer's head and into the Marist bench on the Foxes' most crucial possession. 

70-66, 1:04 left

Mike Ringgold and Matt Griffin both fouled out in the last minute. 
Louie McCroskey is at the line shooting 2. 

70-64 Broncs with 1:40 left

Jason Thompson is turning in an other-worldly performance. He has 32 points (2,003 for his career) and 18 rebounds. 
Ryan Stilphen is absolutely overmatched in the low post and the Foxes haven't gotten double teams to him quickly enough when they've tried. 

63-63

Louie McCroskey scored four straight points for Marist; 4:02 left. 

59-57 Broncs with 6:40 left

The fans in attendance got their money's worth tonight. Siena and Loyola produced a thriller, and it looks like this one might go down to the wire as well. 
Jay Gavin hit a 3 from the top of the key to put Marist up 57-56, but Matt Griffin answered with a 3 of his own from the right wing to put the Broncs back up by two. 

56-52 Broncs with with 7:54 left

Jason Thompson is carrying the Broncs. He scored on another baby hook in the lane to put the Broncs up by four. 
He has 23 points and is six away from 2,000 for his career. 

49-48 Broncs

Jason Thompson's baby hook gave the Broncs a one-point lead with 12:03 left. We're at the under-12 media timeout with 11:42 left and the Broncs have the ball. 
Thompson is having one of his best games of the season in his most important game. He has 19 points and 14 rebounds and still has more than a quarter of the game in front of him. 
Attendance for this session is  6,577 -- pretty good, but more than a thousand shy of the third session yesterday, which, like this one, included Siena. 

44-41 Foxes with 15:49 left

Jason Thompson was just called for a questionable offensive foul under the hoop, and Marist leads by three at the under-16 media timeout. 
Matt Griffin's 3 with 16:48 gave Rider a 41-39 lead, but David Devezin answered with a 3 and Louie McCroskey's layup in traffic put Marist back on top. 
Marist not only has a good band; the dance team is good, too. 

39-38 Foxes with 17:51 left

Lamar Johnson hit an off-balanced baseline jumper to get the Broncs within one. 
If Rider loses, the Broncs can't blame it on a lack of productivity from Jason Thompson. 
JT's numbers so far: 15 points and 13 rebounds. 

39-32 at the half

Internet went out, so sorry about the delay. Second half just started. 

24-22 Marist, 6:43 left in the first half

Every Marist player brought his jump shot except for point guard David Devezin, who just missed a 3 despite being WIDE open. Ryan Schneider (no relation that I know of to Mets catcher BRIAN Schneider) has 11 to lead the Foxes. 
The scoring for Rider: Jason Thompson has seven, Harris Mansell has five, Kam Warner has four, and  Joel Green, Matt Griffin and Mike Ringgold all have two. 

16-15 Foxes, 11:23 left in the first half

Jason Thompson just hit a layup and was fouled. He'll take the free throw after the under-12 media timeout. 
Neither Brian Lewis from the New York Post nor Sean Brennan from the New York Daily News are here, so I moved from my seat near the baseline to a primo spot five feet from the half court line. 
Justin Robinson has yet to check in. 
Jason Thompson has six points for Rider; Kam Warner has four, Harris Mansell three and Matt Griffin two. 
Jay Gavin has nine -- all on 3s -- for Marist. 

4-2 Red Foxes

The scoring so far, with 15:59 left: 
  • Layup by David Devezin; 2-0 Marist
  • Putback by Jason Thompson; 2-2
  • Putback by Ryan Stilphen; 4-2 Foxes 

Griffin, Johnson in lineup

Starting lineups: 
Marist: David Devezin, Ben Farmer, Ryan Stilphen, Spongy Benjamin
Rider: Matt Griffin, Lamar Johnson, Harris Mansell, Mike Ringgold, Jason Thompson. 
Ryan Thompson, as expect, isn't dressed. Justin Robinson is, but he's not in the starting lineup. For what its worth, he didn't have a noticeable limp during warmups. Harris Mansell has a brace on his left ankle. Tip seconds away!

Saints win 65-63

Alex Franklin blocked an attempted Brian Rudolph layup with 1.7 seconds left, and after the inbounds pass, the Hounds lobbed it up for Omari Israel in front of the basket. Israel swatted at the ball and knocked it off the backboard, but it wasn't close to going in. 
Without any question, the most exciting game of the tournament so far. Siena has a date in the title game tomorrow against Rider or Marist. 

WHAT A GAME!

Josh Duel hit a layup to give the Saints a 65-63 lead  and was fouled with 15 seconds left, igniting a celebration in the stands. But he missed the free throw and with 12.8 ticks left the Hounds can tie with a 2 or win with a 3. 

63-59 Hounds, 3;35 left

For the past five minutes, the lead is gone back and forth between four and six. It's four now after a layup by Edwin Ubilies. The Saints are shooting 52.9 percent from the line. If that number was 75 percent, they'd be ahead. 

Good tune

The one thing Siena's band has over Marist's: a good rendition of Born to be Wild. 

59-52, 7:36 left

Just call Marquis Sullivan Mr. Big Shot. 
He just hit his second 3 in the past minute to make it a seven-point game instead of a four-point game. 
Brian Rudolph missed a layup but then got a huge offensive board and kicked it out to Sullivan, who buried the 3 from the left wing. 

49-43, 11:02 left

The Hounds have a six-point lead and the ball, but are struggling with Siena's full-court pressure. 
It's not Marist, but the Siena band isn't bad. 

44-37, 15:50 left

Siena has scored six of the last eight points. After Kenny Hasbrouck hit a foul-line jumper, Edwin Ubilies and Alex Franklin trapped Omari Israel in the bakccourt and forced him to use a timeout. 

38-28 at the half

Siena went on a mini-run at the end of the half, but Edwin Ubilies missed two big free throws and the Saints turned it over with 10 seconds left and a chance to cut the lead to single digits. 
The Saints shot 35.7 percent in the first half; Hounds shot 46.7 percent. 
Omari Israel and Mike Tuck have combined for 21 points and 13 rebounds. 
So far, the Saints have had no answer for Loyola's low-post dominance. 

38-21

With 3:29 left in the first half, its ALL Hounds and you could hear a pin drop in the arena. Which brings to my attention that there are no Loyola fans here. 
There were some here yesterday. Where are they?  

30-17 Hounds

If Loyola continues to shoot like this (52.4 percent) and Siena continues to struggle, the Saints are in serious trouble. 
Mike Tuck has 10 points to lead the Hounds with 5:54 left in the first half. 

22-15 Hounds

Omari Israel hit a pair of free throws to put the Hounds up by seven with 7:31 left in the first half. 
To my surprise, the arena is less full today than it was yesterday when Siena played Manhattan in the quarterfinals. 
Rumor is there were some traffic and parking issues, but it there can't be more than 7,000 here. Yesterday's game drew almost 8,000. 

14-12 Hounds

Loyola back on top with 10:50 left in the half. 

Robinson expected to play

Good news for Rider: Justin Robinson is expected to play despite the ankle sprain he sustained in yesterday's win over Canisius. 
I thought (and blogged) Robinson's injury was to his left knee. But I was wrong: its the ankle, so sorry for the confusion. 
But in any case, he'll suit up and probably play. 
Harris Mansell, who also has an ankle sprain, will also play, but neither player will be close to 100 percent. Expect Matt Griffin to still get the bulk of the minutes at point guard and for a committee of Kam Warner, Lamar Johnson and yesterday's hero, Pat Mansell, to get a lot of playing time at shooting guard to spell Harris Mansell. 
Ryan Thompson (concussion) will not play. 
Siena and Loyola tip at 6. 

Pool standings

Keith was the only person in the pool, including me, who picked Loyola to beat Fairfield, and he's in the lead because of it. I'm guessing if there were a bunch of Loyola grads in our pool a few more people would have picked the Hounds to win, especially since they were favored. 
Because so many people picked Fairfield to either win the championship (Antonio, Mike, Brendan) or lose in the championship game (Bill, Rory, Scott), only three people still have a chance to win the pool. 
I'll go over the scenarios first, then give you the standings.
  • If Siena wins the tournament, Keith wins. (Keith and Rich both have Siena beating Rider in the finals, so if that happens, Keith would win because he would maintain the four-point lead he established because of Loyola's win over Fairfield). 
  • If Marist wins, Chris wins because he's the only person who picked the Foxes to win the tourney (and also the only one to pick them to advance past the semis). 
  • If Rider wins, Tom would win. Tom and I both have Rider over Siena in the finals, but I am not eligible to officially win the pool and the free t-shirt, so essentially, Tom would win the pool the same way that the Iona women won an NIT bid: Marist isn't eligible to go to the NIT because they're going to the NCAA, so Iona gets the bid for finishing second). 
  • Loyola is the only team remaining that no one picked to win the title. If Loyola beats Marist in the finals, Chris wins the pool. If the Hounds beat Rider, the prize goes to Keith. 
The standings. 
18 points -- Keith
14 -- Chris, Antonio, Rich, Mike and me
12 -- Tom, Bill, Brendan 
10 -- Scott, Rory 

Next year, our goal is to at least double the number of participants and have 20. 

Perfection for Marist

The Marist women concluded their perfect MAAC season with what coach Brian Giorgis called the "perfect" game, blowing out Iona 83-63 to win their fourth conference title in five years. 
Rachele Fitz scored 20 points to lead the Red Foxes, who held the Gaels to 33.3 percent shooting. 
Sarah Smrdel scored 14 points off the bench and was named MVP of the tournament. 
Tiara Headen had 15 points for the Gaels, who get the conference's automatic WNIT bid for finishing second in the conference in the regular season. 
Would have liked to have done live updates for this one, but I had some more internet issues. Fortunately, we should be good to go for the men's semifinals.  
I still have to add up the second-round totals for the men's tournament pool, but I'll post the standings later in the afternoon. 
Siena and Loyola tip off in the first men's game at 6. 

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Red Foxes win

In a game that sometimes looked more like football than basketball (Charron Fisher tackling Spongy Benjamin in the final seconds), Marist beat Niagara 66-62, earning a date with Rider in tomorrow's semifinal. Tip time is 8 p.m. 
Tomorrow, we've got Marist and Iona in the women's championship game, followed by two men's semis: Siena-Loyola at 6 and Rider-Marist at 8. 
Updated pool standings will be out in the morning. 
Until then, good night from Albany. 

Technology

Just realized that the Times Union Center wireless malfunciton caused a pretty important post not to make it on to the blog: Rider won 75-71. 

Niagara leading, Rider bleeding

Niagara leads Marist 47-44 with 7:30 left in the game. 
Tommy Dempsey said during his postgame press conference that neither Ryan Thompson nor Justin Robinson will play in the semifinals tomorrow. 
That means close to 40 minutes at point guard for Matt Griffin and a likely start for Kam Warner along with Griffin, Harris Mansell, Mike Ringgold and Jason Thompson. 
Mansell, who injured his ankle in the first half, will be playing through intense pain. 

Grifs can tie with a 3

With 25.8 seconds left, Canisius has the ball back after Jason Thompson was called for traveling. The Grifs have several players who can strike from long range. It'll be interesting to see how long they wait to take the shot. The shot clocks are off. 
This is what March basketball is all about. 

74-71 Broncs

Pat Mansell just hit the biggest shot of his life -- a 3-pointer from the left wing -- and the Broncs lead by three and have the ball after a big defensive rebound by Jason Thompson with 44.3 seconds left. 

71-71

Harris Mansell scored and was fouled, but missed the free throw. Frank Turner hit a foul-line jumper to tie it with 1:33 left. 

69-69

Bob Bevilacqua hit his fifth 3-pointer and with 2:10 left, we're all tied up. 
Amazing. 

69-66 Broncs, 3:17 left

From a fans/reporters standpoint, this is great. I only wish the Rider injuries weren't factors, because no one wants to see Ryan Thompson and Justin Robinson on the bench in crunch time because they're not physically able.
But what a game. Canisius surprised a lot of people last night by upsetting Iona, and win or lose, they've shocked a lot of people already tonight. 

Another injury

With 6:16 left, Harris Mansell hit a 3 to put the Broncs up 64-62, but on the same play Justin Robinson went down with a left knee injury. 
I'd be surprised if he returns tonight, but we'll see. 

62-61 Grifs with 7:31 left

Ryan Thompson caught an elbow in the face and just got up after staying down on the floor for about two minutes. Not sure exactly what kept him down for that long, but he walked off the court and appears to be OK. 
Meanwhile, the Golden Griffins are giving the Broncs a fight no one thought they'd stage. I'd be surprised if Rider didn't pull away, but its late enough in the game that anything can happen. 

57-55 with 11:23 left

The good news for Rider: Jason Thompson is back in the game after sitting out a big chunk of time after he picked up his third foul. 
The bad news: this is not the kind of basketball championship-caliber teams play in March. 
Greg Loggins has a game-high 18 for the Golden Griffins and Frank Turner has 13. 
Justin Robinson has 13 to lead the Broncs. Both Thompsons have 11. 

Broncs better wake up

Greg Loggins just slammed home a two-handed dunk, bringing Canisius -- are you ready for this? -- within a point at 47-46 with 15;20 left. 
Frank Turner came down with a defensive rebound at the other end but stepped on the baseline, giving the Broncs the ball when we come out of the under-16 media timeout. 

43-38

17:39 left in the game, and some hot Canisius shooting and sloppy Rider passing has made it close. 

38-23

With 2:39 left in the first half, the Broncs -- not surprisingly -- are starting to pull away. 
Lamar Johnson has given them a spark off the bench, hitting a pair of 3s in the past two minutes to help stretch the lead. Still no signs of any members of Red Fox Nation arriving. 
I've said it many times today and I'll say it again: the Marist pep band is worth the price of admission. I'm looking forward to another performance tonight, and rooting for the Foxes so I can see them twice again tomorrow. 

20-18

Bob Bevilacqua hit his second 3 of the game to bring the Griffins within three with 9:48 left in the first half. 
Sorry, but the Rider band is so small that there's no way you can hear it on the other side of the arena. 

16-12 Broncs

Canisius is hanging in there for now, but Jason Thompson just scored his first points of the game to put the Broncs up by four. The Griffins dance team, with those glittery uniforms I mentioned last night, provides the entertainment at the under-12 media timeout. 
I snuck back to the hotel for a few minutes during the first half of the Siena-Manhattan game, and the bar downstairs was packed with Marist fans, who will likely start trickling in soon for the Red Foxes' highly anticipated duel with Niagara at 10. 

10-5

Frank Turner hit a 3 and with 15:44 it's 10-5 Broncs as the Rider dance team makes its first appearance of the night. 
Excellent job by the Rider students, who are here in bigger numbers than the students from any school other than host Siena. 
The place is mostly empty, but everyone here (except for the half-dozen Canisius students behind the basket) is wearing cranberry. 

Its over

Sorry, Canisius, but with 16:42 left in the first haf Rider leads 10-2. 
It's just not the Grifs' night. 

Saints win; now its Rider time

In front of a large and loud home crowd, Siena beat Manhattan to move in to a semifinal date with No. 4 Loyola tomorrow. 
We're minutes away from tip time in No. 2 Rider's date with No. 10 Canisius. 
Rider won the two regular season meetings by a combined 84 points, so don't expect this to be close for long. The Golden Griffins, led by sophomore guard Frank Turner, shocked No. 7 Iona in last night's play-in game. They're wearing their trade mark bright yellow sneakers once again. 

Hounds win 64-59

Jimmy Patsos ran out on to the court to hug Gerald Brown after the buzzer sounded, then proceeded to go through the handshake line for a brush-by handshake of Belichick-Mangini proportions with Ed Cooley. 
The Stags got a tough break with 18 seconds left when the ball appeared to bounce off of Brown's hand and out of bounds. The official nearest the play didn't see it, but another official ruled it Loyola ball. 
Brown hit a running layup to make it a five-point game and Jon Han air-balled a 3 at the other end. 
The Hounds are heading to the semifinals to take on the winner of the Siena-Manhattan game, which tips off in 20 minutes. 
There's a buzz in the arena and a "Let's Go Saints" chant starting as the Saints and Jaspers go through layup lines. 
I'm going to take a lunch break that might extend into the first half of this game, but I'll be back later. 

62-59

Fairfield got a big stop, then a dunk from Anthony Johnson to get to within three with 2:01 left. 
What a game!

62-57

Warren Edney's floater brought the Stags back to within seven with 3;24 left in the game. 

62-55

With 3:58 left, the Hounds lead is seven at the under-four minute media timeout. 
The arena is filling up and most of the Siena fans are rooting for the Stags -- probably a sign that they'd rather Siena face them then the Hounds. Loyola beat Siena twice during the regular season. 

62-53 Hounds with 4:23 left

The only bad news for Loyola is that Michael Tuck just fouled out. 

58-51, 6:14

As the Fairfield plays "in the jungle," the Hounds lead by seven. 
Marty O'Sullivan and Gerald Brown are the latest two players to get tangled up and exchange a couple of words. 

55-50 Hounds with 7:43 left

Jon Han and Brian Rudolph almost got into it, and Ed Cooley and Jimmy Patsos were screaming at each other for a second before being cooled down by their assistants. 
These two coaches HATE each other, and some of that bad blood is clearly spilling out onto the floor. 

Houston, we have a ballgame

Marquis Sullivan intentionally fouled Mamadou Diakhate while Diakhate was making a layup. Diakhate hit one of two free throws to make it a five-point game and Jon Han hit a 3 from the corner to bring Fairfield within two at 50-48. 

Some stats

Same score as last time -- 49-41 -- with 11:33 left, but here are some stats: 
Brett Harvey leads all scorers with 13 for the Hounds. Mike Tuck has 12 and Gerland Brown has 11. 
Jon Han leads the Stags with nine. Marty O'Sullivan and Herbie Allen have eight apiece and Warren Edney has seven. 

49-41

Gerald Brown's three-point play but Loyola up 10, but Herbie Allen answered with jumper to bring Fairfield back within eight with 11:57 left. 

Stags fight back

With 13:53 left, Fairfield is back within seven at 44-37. Ed Cooley says senior forward Mamadou Diakhate has "it" -- something he can't define. 
Here's a definition for past minute of play: a 3 from the top of the key and one of the best defensive plays I've seen this year at the other end. 
Diakhate knocked the ball out of Mike Tuck's hands, then spiked the ball off Tuck's leg and out of bounds for a turnover. 

44-29

Herbie Allen hit an off-balanced 3 and the Stags got a turnover at the other end, but its still Hounds by 15 with 15:29 left. 
For the first time in the tournament, the arena is close to half-full. 

39-21

18:47 left in the game and this one is getting ugly. 
Fairfield better pull it together or the Stags' season will come to a crashing halt. 

34-21 Hounds at the half

Loyola dominated the last 10 minutes of the half and REALLY clamped down on defense. Michael Tuck has nine points and Brett Harvey has eight for the Hounds. 
We'll see if we can track down a box score. 

29-21 Hounds

Brett Harvey just hit a 3 from the top of the key to put Loyola up by seven with 3:39 left in the first half. 
Mike Evanovich is a liability defensively for Fairfield. 

22-21 Hounds

Warren Edney just scored on a putback off of a missed layup by Marty O'Sullivan to bring the Stags within a point with 5:35 left in the first half. 
The arena is starting to fill up a little; should be 10,000 or so for the Siena-Manhattan game. 

21-18 Hounds

Loyola is doing a good job getting to the rim and hitting the offensive glass. 
Marty O'Sullivan leads all scorers with eight. Michael Tuck has seven for Loyola. 
Four of the angriest fans I've ever seen are behind me in the stands screaming at the officials every time a call doesn't go Loyola's way. 

13-12 Hounds

With 11:48 left in the first half, it's been back-and-forth so far. 

Tip time

Ed Cooley is wearing a red jacket and a matching tie. 
There are a handful of Loyola students behind one of the baskets, where the Loyola cheerleaders and mascot are. 

Marist wins, 78-67

No. 1 Marist vs. No. 2 Iona tomorrow in the finals. 
Next up: the game a lot of TCHB readers have been looking forward to for a year: No. 4 Loyola against No. 5 Fairfield on the men's side. 
Our pool is loaded with Fairfield students and alumns, so 10 out of 11 participants have the Stags pulling the upset. 
It's two good teams and two good coaches who, to put it mildly, are not fond of one another. 
Tip is about 20 minutes away. Grab a cold drink and a grinder and get ready, folks. This is what MAAC basketball is all about. 

We're back!

My apologies for the long delay in posts. 
Blogger was down for more than an hour, so I haven't been able to post any updates on the Marist-Saint Peter's women's game. 
But as you might expect, Marist is ahead. 
With 2:47 left, Marist leads 71-62. Looks like Red Fox Nation is heading back to the women's finals. 
One complaint though: I love Marist fans. In fact, in some ways, I think they're the best in the league. But there are a couple of them sitting in the stands who will not stop screaming at the refs. The building is empty enough and quiet enough that you can hear them loud and clear, and its pretty annoying, especially since their team is winning. It's not like they're getting hosed by the officials and are going to lose because of it. 

Gaels win 74-69

They await either Marist or Saint Peter's (but most likely Marist) in tomorrow's championship game. 

67-61

Fairfield just committed a costly turnover, and with 1:15 left the Gaels are in control. If they make their free throws, they'll be in the finals. 

65-61 Gaels

Fairfield just got a bucket by Megan Caskin, then trapped Lauren DeFalco in the backcourt, forcing her to use a timeout. With 1:46 left, Iona can win it if they take care of the ball and make a few plays. 

60-55 Gaels

With 3:44 left, its still Iona by five. Fairfield has made a few plays, but needs to start getting stops. If the teams keep trading baskets, the Stags' season will be over. 

54-49 Gaels

With 7:35 left, we've had a little more offense, but no movement one way or another from Iona's five-point lead. 
Give credit to the Fairfield band for its rendition of "hey baby" in which some members sing the chorus. If only a few more kids would sign up, they'd be able to produce some serious crowd-enlivening tunes. 

Still 50-45

More than two minutes have passed since the last timeout and no one has scored. 
Fairfield has had a couple more open looks and hasn't converted. Iona has had two traveling calls. 
How bout some offense, ladies? 

50-45 Gaels

We've got a good one here, folks. 
With 11:44 left, Iona is out in front in a back-and-forth battle. 
Megan Caskin missed a wide-open 3 that would have given Fairfield a lead a minute ago. 
I don't think "filling up" is an appropriate term given the 10,000 or so empty seats, but there is a steady flow of fans, players, cheerleaders and the like coming into the building. 
Hopefully a decent chunk of the Fairfield and Iona fans will stick around for the Marist-Saint Peter's game. 

41-40 Gaels

With 15:42 left, Iona's lead is down to one. 
The take here is that Killian the Gael is one of the best mascots in the MAAC. Maybe even THE best, though my colleagues from Fairfield rank Shooter the Red Fox atop the list. Anyone with mascot rankings of their own should feel free to chime in. 

Stats

Sabra Wrice has 10 to lead all scorers and Lauren Groom has seven for Fairfield, but only five Fairfield players have scored, while eight Iona players have. 
Tiara Headen has nine (and four rebounds) to lead the Gaels, who are 7-for-7 from the free throw line. Anna McLean has eight points, six rebound and two blocks. 
Fairfield needs to get to the line more. The Stags got there only four times and didn't even make the best of those trips, making only two. 
Iona is shooting 44.8 percent from the floor and 25 percent (2-for-8) from 3. 
Fairfield's numbers are 34.4 and 44.4. 
The teams are even in rebounds at 19 apiece. 
Fairfield point guard Megan Caskin has three turnovers after not committing any in the Stags' 67-52 win over Siena yesterday. 
The Marist pep band is setting up and ready to get the place rockin' for the Red Foxes game against Saint Peter's, which is next on the schedule. 

35-28 Gaels at the half

Stats in a minute. 

Gaels lead 22-17

Fairfield jumped out early, but Iona came back to take a five-point lead with 7:30 left in the first half. 
Not too many people other than me, the Mirror guys, and a smattering of Fairfield and MAAC staffers bothered to get out of bed early. But our pal JoeStag from fairfield.scout.com is in the stands wearing his trademark cardinal (Fairfield) red shirt. 

Pool standings

Canisius' stunning win over Iona shook things up. 
Brendan Monahan and Bill McBain were the only ones to pick the Grifins, so they're on top. Mirror sports editor Tom Cleary's expertise did not prevent him from being the only guy in the pool to pick Saint Peter's over Manhattan, leaving him in last. But no one had any of the play-in round teams winning in today's quarterfinals, meaning everyone is on fairly even ground. 
The standings: 
1. Brendan Monahan 4 points 
1. Bill McBain 4
2. Rory Duyon 2
2. Mike Vitale 2
2. Chris Simmons 2
2. Richie Brennan 2
2. Keith Connors 2
2. Scott Apuzzo 2
2. Antonio Plasencia 2
2. Ben Doody 2
3. Tom Cleary 0 

Day Three

Early morning greetings from the Times Union Center, where the Fairfield women lead Iona 9-2 with 16:25 left in the first half. 
I'll post the standings for the first round of the TCBH men's tournament pool in a few minutes. 
I've got a 20-ounce cup of Starbuck's coffee to help keep me awake. 

Canisius wins, 64-59

I was more certain Iona would beat Canisius than I was of anything else in this tournament. 
I was wrong. 
The Golden Griffins pulled away down the stretch, picking up an improbable postseason win and sending Iona's season to a crashing, unexpected conclusion. 
Rishawn Johnson scored 14 points off the bench, Bob Bevilacqua had 14 as well and Frank Turner had 12 for the Griffins, who won despite shooting 23.8 percent from 3-point range and 68.4 percent from the free-throw line. 
Now Tommy Dempsey has to convince his team its in for a challenge against a team it beat by a combined 84 points in two regular season games. 
That's it for me today. Thanks to everyone who sent in their men's tournament picks. I'll post the standings tomorrow morning, which starts bright and early with the Fairfield and Iona women in a 9:30 a.m. semifinal. 

Friday, March 7, 2008

60-57 Grifs

I'm starting to think Canisius might actually win this thing. With 1:25 left they have a three-point lead, and have executed better over the past two minutes than the Gaels, who have crumbled in the second half. 

Tied up

Can someone please make a free throw?
With 3:36 left, we're tied at 54. Both teams are struggling from the floor and the line. It looks like whoever makes fewer mistakes down the stretch is going to come out on top. 

We have a ballgame

Frank Turner's old-fashioned three-point play with 8:06 left gave Canisius its first lead since the opening minutes. Dexter Gray answered at the other end for Iona, and with 7:33 left, the Gaels lead 50-49. 
If you're a Rider fan, there's hope your team might luck out and get a date with the Golden Grifs -- whom the Broncs beat by a combined 84 points -- in the quarters. 

Grifs back in it

Rishawn Johnson just scored in the low post to bring Canisius within 42-38 with 12:22 left. 

Gaels by 7

With 15:54 left Iona leads it 40-33. Canisius has shown some toughness under the basket in the second half, and Milan Provanovic, hot in the first half from beyond the arc, has missed a couple of open jumpers. 

Gaels by 7

With 15:54 left Iona leads it 40-33. Canisius has shown some toughness under the basket in the second half, and Milan Provanovic, hot in the first half from beyond the arc, has missed a couple of open jumpers. 

35-26 Gaels at the half

Kyle Camper hit a big 3 with o.3 seconds left to stretch the lead to nine. 
Iona could be up by 15 if not for a couple of ugly turnovers and missed layups. 
Canisius hasn't done much to indicate this will be close for very long in the second half. 

19-14 Gaels

With 7:30 left, Iona is still out in front. 
If seven-footer Jon Kelly could make a layup, he'd be one of the best big guys in the league. Unfortunately for Iona, he can't. But so far, it hasn't been costly. 
Canisius has the only dance team I've seen today with sparkling uniforms. 

13-11 Gaels

With 11:42 left in the first half, Iona leads by two in a game that has been sloppy early and might be sloppy throughout. 
Give credit to the Canisius students who made the drive from Buffalo and are standing behind one of the baskets. They're the only students I've seen all day other than players, managers, cheerleaders and band members. 

11-8 Gaels

Milan Prodanovic hit a 3 from the right wing to give Iona a three-point lead at the under-16 media timeout with 15:35 left in the first half. (When he hits a 3, that's "MP3" if you're scoring at home.) 

Tip time

Five games down, one to go.
And as far as Rider goes, this is the most important one. 
Lineups are being announced now and we're minutes away from tip time. 
My prediction: Iona by 20. 
And one more point: if you were the worst team in the conference, why in the world would you draw more negative attention to yourselves buy wearing blindingly bright yellow shoes? 
I have no answer, but that's exactly what Canisius is doing. 

Jaspers win 73-59

Pretty impressive win for Manhattan, which will face No. 1 Siena tomorrow in the quarterfinals. 
Devon Austin was the star, finishing with 26 points on 10-0f-15 shooting in 36 minutes. 
Antoine Pearson chipped in with 15 for the Jaspers, who won the rebounding battle 42-31 despite having no players with 10 rebounds. (Andrew Gabriel had nine to lead the team; Darryl Crawford and Austin each had seven.) 
Todd Sowell had 20 points but only four rebounds in his last game for Saint Peter's, which ended the season 6-24. 
The Peacocks have some good young players, but it's going to be an uphill climb to say the least for John Dunne. 
Next up: No. 7 Iona vs. No. 10 Canisius. 
The winner gets a date with Rider in the quarterfinals. 

Japers running away with it

Devon Austin now has 21 points, and the Jaspers are threatening to turn it into a laugher. 
With 15:05 left, the lead is 46-31. 

33-24 Jaspers at the half

The Manhattan dance team about to provide the half-time entertainment. 
Devon Austin leads all scorers at the break with 14 points. 
I need a cup of coffee. It's been a fun but long day. 

29-23 Jaspers

Devon Austin leads all scorers with 14 points, and with 3:17 left in the first half, the Jaspers are on top by six. 
Good job by the Manhattan cheerleaders, who have cheered every time that the SPC cheerleaders have taken the court. SPC -- which did not charge admission for home games until Keydren Clark's arrival in the early 00s -- has only six cheerleaders, no mascot, no band, and no fans. So they need all the support they can get. 

SPC comes back

Nick Leon hit back-to-back 3-pointers, and the Peacocks are alive and kickin after a slow start. 
With 6:59 left in the first half, Manhattan leads 21-19. 

SPC comes back

Nick Leon hit back-to-back 3-pointers, and the Peacocks are alive and kickin after a slow start. 
With 6:59 left in the first half, Manhattan leads 21-19. 

Jaspers still up

Devon Austin just hit an off-balanced 3 from the top of the key, and with 11:59 left in the first half, Manhattan leads 15-4. 

All Jaspers early

With 15:15 left in the first half, Manhattan leads 10-2. Good effort by the Manhattan pep band, but it has so few members that when they play, you can hardly hear them across the arena. I can't wait til tomorrow, when the Marist band will be back. 

Men's madness

Manhattan and Saint Peter's are minutes away from tip-off in the first game of the men's tournament. 
I thought a couple thousand more people would be here than at the women's games earlier, but I was wrong. No more than 3,000 in the house. But oh well; should be an interesting game between two fairly evenly matched teams. 

Peacocks win a thriller

Best game of the tournament so far: SPC's Lauma Reke hit a 3 from the right corner with six seconds left to give the Peacocks a 68-65 lead, and the Peacocks fouled and forced the Jaspers to re-inbound the ball in the frontcourt, Manhattan couldn't get the look it needed. 
The Peacocks will take on top-seeded Marist tomorrow in the semifinals. 
Not too many people watched it (maybe 200, with about 14,000 empty seats) but those who did got their money's worth. 
With that in mind, if you're in the Albany area (or if you're not, but you have time to make the drive), come on down to the Times Union Center tomorrow and check out some women's hoops!
Next up: the SPC-Manhattan men in the first game that counts in our pool, which you can still enter if you get your picks in in the next hour. 

Down to the wire

Marist coach Brian Giorgis is sitting next to me watching the final minute of the SPC-Manhattan game in amazement. 
"It's a great game," he said, shaking his head. 
We're all tied up at 65 with 20 ticks left. 

Time is running out

.... To enter the only MAAC basketball pool (to our knowledge) in the country. E-mail your picks to rutgersfootballblog@gmail.com by 7:30, when Saint Peter's and Manhattan tip off in the first of two play-in games tonight. 
In the women's rendition of the Jaspers-Peacocks battle, Manhattan leads 55-50 with eight minutes to play. 

Marist wins, 54-44

The Red Foxes survive. Good effort, though, by Canisius, which was in it until the final minutes. 
Next up: the women's rendition of Saint Peter's-Manhattan (the men play later on). 
The winner of the upcoming game gets Marist in tomorrow's semifinals. 

Red Foxes back on top

With 13:03 left, Marist leads 36-30, and it looks like order is being restored to the universe. 
Four hours until the deadline for the TCHB men's tournament pool. E-mail your picks for each game from tonight's play-in round through the finals to rutgersfootballblog@gmail.com. 

Grifs by 3

With 17:10 left, Canisius leads 29-26. At halftime, there was chatter in the concourses about an upset. 
I need more evidence before I'm jumping on that bandwagon. 

Grifs hanging in

With 7:13 left in the first half, Canisius leads top-seeded Marist 19-16. 
Will they hold onto the lead? 
I doubt it, but it's making this game interesting, at least for the time being. 
I'd like to see an upset, but the Marist pep band is so good that I want them to be able to play at as many games as possible. 
They are twice as big and more than twice as good as any other band in the MAAC. And they're cool, too. They have red bandanas, signs, and a tuba player who looks like he's as old as my dad, but still seems to be having fun. 

Stags win 67-52

Just talked to my former radio partner, Stags play-by-play guy John Cummings. A few items from the box score that he brought to my attention: 
  • Megan Caskin had as good a game as a point guard can have: 12 assists and no turnovers in 37 minutes. And as a bonus, she scored a career-high 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting. John's take on the scoring: usually, no one guards her, but she doesn't take or make many jumpers. Today, she took them and hit them, forcing Siena to have a player on her and leave other players open. 
  • Fairfield won by 15 despite getting only seven points from leading scorer and first-team All-MAACer Sabra Wrice. 
  • Meka Werts was lethal, scoring 18 points on 4-of-7 3-point shooting. The take from former UConn guard and current color analyst (the gig I had two years ago) Maria Conlon, who practices with the Stags when she can, is that Werts jumps so high and brings the ball so far back that her jumper is impossible to block and very hard to defend. 
  • Stephanie Geehan -- who missesd most of the regular season -- made a big impact, finishing with six points, six rebounds and four blocks in 24 minutes. John thinks she could be the difference-maker in the semifinals tomorrow against Iona. 

Stags pulling away

With 6:30 left in the game, Fairfield leads 50-35. Tough day for Siena, which looks like it will get blown out on its home court. 
Unless the Saints mount a comeback, we're looking at an Iona-Fairfield semifinal tomorrow. 

29-20 Stags at the half

Meka Werts leads all scorers with 11 points. Sabra Wrice and Megan Caskin have seven apiece for the Stags, while Laura Menty -- the MAAC's leading scorer in the regular season -- has seven to lead the Saints. 

15-14 Siena

Saints up by a point with 7:48 left in the first half. 
Is there anyone out there who doesn't think "Gimmee Some Lovin" by the Spencer Davis Group is the best pep band song out there?
The Fairfield band just played a good rendition of it, and there's nothing that gets me more in the mood for college basketball than hearing it. 
If you have a different favorite pep band song, I'm interested to hear it. 

Day Two

Welcome to Day Two of the TCHB MAAC tournament blogathon. 
First things first: If you haven't already, submit your picks for the men's tournament pool to rutgersfootballblog@gmail.com before 7:30 p.m. tonight. The total number of points scored in the title game will be the tiebreaker. 
As for our recap of Day One, today's Trentonian has a game story on the Rider women's team's season-ending loss to Loyola, along with a story on the MAAC awards ceremony, which saw Jason Thompson named Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, and Tommy Dempsey named Coach of the Year. 
As far as Day Two is concerned, we already have one women's game in the books: Second-seeded Iona crushed No. 7 Loyola (which beat Rider yesterday) and became the first time to advance to the semifinals. 
No. 3 Fairfield and No. 6 Siena are playing right now, and with  12:20 left in the first half, the Saints lead 13-11. 
There's a MUCH bigger crowd for this game than there was for either of the two women's games yesterday, including a section full of local school children. Old friend Tom Cleary, the sports editor of the Fairfield Mirror, had a good question to which I don't know the answer: where are the Siena band and cheerleaders? The Saints are playing on their home court, but have no band, cheerleaders, or mascot. Fairfield, meanwhile, has its band and cheerleaders here despite the fact that they had to travel two hours to get here and are on spring break. 


Thursday, March 6, 2008

Thompson, Dempsey win awards

What everyone expected to happen happened with regards to the men's player of the year, defensive player of the year, and coach of the year awards: they all went to Rider. 
Jason Thompson was named player of the year and defensive player of the year (for the second time) and Tommy Dempsey was named coach of the year. 
I couldn't agree more with both decisions. 
Thompson, who led the league in rebounding and blocks and was second in scoring, is arguably (probably?) the best mid-major player in the country. In my mind, that makes him a shoo-in for player of the year even though he plays in the same conference as the leading scorer in the country, Niagara's Charron Fisher. 
To the surprise of no one, Marist cleaned up the women's awards, with Brian Giorgis winning coach of the year honors for the fourth time in six years (seriously: when is this guy going to bolt for the Big East or ACC?) and Rachele Fitz being named player of the year. 
The other men's and women's awards: 
Men: 
Co-Rookies of the Year: Loyola G Brian Rudolph and Marist G Jay Gavin
Sixth Man of the Year: Loyola G Marquis Sullivan 
Women: 
Rookie of the Year: Marist G Erica Allenspach
Defensive Player of the Year: Saint Peter's G Tania Kennedy 
Sixth Player of the Year: Marist F Lynzee Kennedy 

Also, didn't have time to post on it earlier, but Canisius clobbered Niagara in the other women's play-in game, so the Golden Griffins get the pleasure of an all-but-certain drubbing at the hands of top-seeded and 24th-ranked Marist tomorrow. 
The schedule for tomorrow is as follows: 
Women: 
No. 2 Iona vs. No. 7 Loyola, 9:30 a.m. 
No. 3 Fairfield vs. No. 6 Siena, 11:30 a.m. 
No. 1 Marist vs. No. 8 Canisius, 1:30 p.m. 
No. 4 Manhattan vs. No. 5 Saint Peter's, 3:30 p.m. 
Men: 
No. 8 Manhattan vs. No. 9 Saint Peter's, 7:30 p.m. 
No. 7 Iona vs. No. 10 Canisius, 10 p.m. 
The Rider men get the winner of the Iona-Canisius game on Saturday at 7:30. 
I can't guarantee I'll be up on time for the 9:30 women's game, but I will definitely be at the Fairfield-Siena game at 11:30 and I'll be in the building blogging for most of the day after that. 
Tomorrow's Trentonian will have a Rider women's game story and a story on the awards ceremony. And remember: send your men's tournament picks to rutgersfootballblog@gmail.com before 7:30 tomorrow to enter the first ever TCHB MAAC tournament pool and the chance to win a free t-shirt and TCHB bragging rights for the year. It's simple: fill out your bracket with your picks from tomorrow's opening round through Monday's final, and e-mail me your picks. The more, the merrier. 
With that, I'm calling it a night and turning my attention to the end of the UConn-Providence game on ESPN, followed by St. Joe's and Xavier when it's over. 


The box score

Here's a link to the box. 
And a few thoughts: 
  • Rider out-rebounded Loyola 44-39 overall and 16-12 on the offensive glass. Lynn Milligan said her press conference that the Broncs' goal was 20 offensive rebonds, so they fell a bit short of that. 
  • Despite the rebounding edge, the Broncs had only 14 second-chance points, while Loyola had 13. So the four extra offensive rebounds produced only one extra point -- not a good sign. And the teams were even in points at the paint at 18. That, coupled with superior guard play from the Greyhounds, was enough to put Loyola on top. 
  • Janele Henderson had a rough day, shooting 5-for-16 from the floor and 2-for-10 from 3. 
  • The Broncs did a good job on Siobhan Prior (whose parents flew in from England to watch her play in the tournament) in the second half. After Prior torched them for 14 points in the first half, she had just four in the second half, finishing with a game-high 18 on 6-of-14 shooting. 
  • Henderson (14 points) and Shaunice Parker (10) were the only Broncs in double figures. 
And a few more important orders of business: 
  • Finding the original post about our men's tournament pool might take some digging now that this page has been taken over by game posts. So a reminder of how this thing will work: e-mail your picks for each game throughout the tournament to rutgersfootballblog@gmail.com by 7:30 tomorrow, when the Iona-Canisius game tips off. The winner gets a free t-shirt of the college basketball team of his/her choice, and more importantly, bragging rights for an entire year and a lot of good press on the TCHB. So basically, fill out your bracket and e-mail me all the picks. If you want to, you can even scan an actual bracket and e-mail it as an attachment. 
  • The MAAC awards ceremony is today at 5 p.m. I will be there and post some thoughts on the award winners shortly afterward.  If Jason Thompson does not win the Player of the Year award, a fraud investigation will be launched immediately. He's also a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. Tommy Dempsey is also a strong frontrunner for Coach of the Year, while Marist guard Jay Gavin is the frontrunner for the Rookie of the Year award. 
The Battle of Buffalo -- No. 8 Canisius vs. No. 9 Niagara -- is going on now. I'll post some notes and stats when the game is over. 
Until then, enjoy Mike and the Mad Dog. 

Loyola wins 57-49

Rider ran out of time to make a run. 
Ballgame over. 
Seaon over, with a much-improved 8-22 record. (Six-win improvement over last year). 
Much more later. 

56-47

Looks like Loyola is starting to pull away. With 1:51 left, the Broncs are running out of time and running out of time and might be running out of answers. 
But they've showed some fight here in the second half, so stay tuned.

50-44

Rider has been within four twice in the past two minutes, but Erica DiClemente has hit two big jumpers for Loyola to keep the Greyhounds out ahead with 4:51 left. 

42-37

Rider cut the lead to three, but with 11:55 left in the game, Loyola has stretched it back to five. 

40-35

Rider has showed some fight, and with 15:44 left in the game the lead is down to five. 
Shaunice Parker has six points in the second half and Janele Henderson just hit a 3 to make it 40-35. Rider is on an 11-5 run since the break. 

35-22 Loyola at the half

Unless they turn things around, the Broncs' season will be over in 20 minutes. 
Loyola closed the half on a 17-4 run to open a 13-point lead, and the Broncs still have had no answers for Siobhan Prior, who has a game-high 14 points. 
Janele Henderson has seven points to lead the Broncs, while Shanice Parker and Tammy Meyers have four apiece. 
Rider is shooting 26.7 percent from the floor (8-for-30) and 22 percent (2-for-9) from 3-point range. The only place from which the Broncs have hit shots is the free=throw line, where they're 4-for-4. 
Loyola is shooting 44.8 percent from the field (13-for-29), 42.9 percent from 3 (3-for-7) and 66.7 percent from the line (6-for-9). 
Loyola's Vika Sholokhova leads all players with five rebounds. Parker and Amanda Sepulveda have four apiece for Rider, which trails 21-19 in rebounding and 14-4 in points in the paint.
The most daunting stat for the Broncs may be this: Parker, Sepulveda and Meyers are a combined 3-for-16 from the floor. 

27-18 Loyola

With 3:30 left in the first half, the Greyhounds have jumped out to a nine-point lead. They've gotten good perimeter shooting from Siobahn Prior and solid interior play from Meghan Wood. So far, the Broncs have not had an answer for that combination. 
Rider led 6-2 but it's been all Loyola since. 

Welcome to the MAAC tournament blog-a-thon

Good morning from the Times-Union Center, where the MAAC tournament will get underway at noon when the 10th-seeded Rider women tip off against No. 7 Loyola in the play-in round. 
By Saturday night, when the men's quarterfinals start -- and especially when top-seeded Siena plays -- there will be five or six thousand fans here and the kind of buzz that typically comes with postseason basketball. 
Now? 
Well, I'm the only reporter on press row and there are exactly six fans in attendance, meaning there are 8,599 empty seats. 
But I'm here and as far as this blog is concerned, that's all that matters. 
I'll be posting live updates all day every day from now until whenever both Rider teams have been eliminated from the tournament. Hopefully for Rider that means I'll still be here for the men's championship game on Monday night. 
There are two women's games today -- No. 8 Canisius takes on No. 9 Niagara at 2 -- and the men's and women's award ceremonies are tonight. 
Jason Thompson is the runaway favorite to be the men's Player of the Year and Tommy Dempsey will likely win Coach of the Year, so it should be a good ceremony for the Broncs. Mike Ringgold was named to the All-Rookie team, making him a finalist for Rookie of the Year, so he will be in attendance as well. The smart money is on Marist guard Jay Gavin to take that honor. 
If you haven't already, be sure to submit your men's tournament picks to rutgersfootballblog@gmail.com by 7:30 tomorrow in order to enter the sweepstakes for a free t-shirt of your favorite college basketball team, courtesy of the TCHB. Just pick the winner of each game -- essentially, filling out a bracket -- and pick the total number of points scored in teh championship game as a tie-breaker. 
I'll be back periodically with updates during the women's game.