The pairings for the upcoming Atlantic 10 Tournament at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., next week have been released as the first round gets underway on Wednesday.
In the first game of the day, Dayton, who at one point this season topped our Searching For Cinderella rankings, will take on Saint Louis as the No. 8 seed in this year's tournament. While the Flyers were one of the biggest surprises in the country during the non-conference season with big wins over Big East foes Louisville and Pittsburgh, Brian Gregory's team was plagued by injuries in January and February and will need to advance to the championship game in order to have a chance at qualifying for the NCAA Tournament now.
BRONX, N.Y. -- You don't have to look at much more than Jim Baron's fingernails to get an idea of what the last two games have been like for Rhode Island.
Chewed up, uneven and shaved down to almost the cuticle, those 10 babies have been through a lot in the past four days.
After all, that's life in the Atlantic 10 these days.
For Baron, the nail biting started Thursday when the Rams began their three-game conference road trip up in Amherst, Mass., where they suffered a heartbreaking 78-76 loss to UMass after digging themselves into a hole in the first half.
On Sunday afternoon at Rose Hill Gymnasium, the Rams also fell into a hole early on, but Baron, in the end, got to feel what's like to be on the other side of a two-point game, as URI escaped with a 65-63 win over a reliant Fordham team that scrapped and crawled until the bitter end.
AMHERST, Mass. -- Lots of teams are "off the radar" at this juncture of the season. Non-conference play is never the end-all, be-all and your 10-2 team on January 1 is your 21-win, bubble team come March 1. So it made sense to pay attention to the Atlantic 10-Conference USA clash that took place Tuesday night under the snow-covered green roof of the once-hoppin' Mullins Center.
What unfolded between host UMass and first-time guest Houston was a 95-89 Minuteman win that had equal glimpses of the Phoenix Suns and a possible Phoenix rising in Travis Ford's 11-2 club.
The 2007-08 season kicked off with two games in the Memphis Region of the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic Monday night, and third-ranked Memphis showed in its season opener why many people are picking the Tigers to cut down the nets in San Antonio this spring.
After staying close in the early going with last year's Conference USA champion, Tennessee-Martin couldn't keep pace with Memphis as the Tigers ran away with a 102-71 victory at the FedEx Forum.
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- The Atlantic-10 is filled with talented players. But some of these players don't get the recognition on a national level.
Let's start with George Washington senior guard Maureece Rice, who led the Colonials in scoring (16.2 ppg) last season.
"Maureece is so quick and has a knack for being in the right place at the right time," George Washington coach Karl Hobbs said. "He's gotten better every year. I think the same thing will happen this year."
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- I'm here live in Atlantic City, N.J., at Atlantic 10 Media Day, and for the second straight year, Xavier has been selected as the top team in the preseason poll conducted by the head coaches and media.
In the last month, Duquesne coach Ron Everhart has had to deal with several unfortunate events surrounding his team.
Between Robert Mitchell's transfer and Stuard Baldanado's two drug charges, Everhart has already lost the 2007 Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year and possibly last year's top junior college recruit before the 2007-08 season has even started.
And earlier this week, the second-year coach was taking care of his own medical issues at Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh, where he was released Thursday after having a small portion of his colon removed.
Just a day after learning that Tyrell Lynch will be joining the Minutemen for the upcoming season, UMass coach Travis Ford got more good news Wednesday when he announced that Wake Forest transfer Anthony Gurley will also attend the Amherst, Mass. school this year.
While the last week in college basketball saw one player flee from his third fight in the last eight months and another earn two drug charges in a matter of six days, more and more schools have finalized and released their official schedules for the 2007-08 season.
Out in the Gateway City, former Utah coach Rick Majerus is beginning his tenure at St. Louis with a solid non-conference schedule that features an early-season game at Big East power Pittsburgh, a game in Chestnut Hill against Al Skinner and Boston College and a home contest against Missouri Valley foe Southern Illinois.
ATLANTIC CITY - Twenty-two hours of play, twelve teams, eleven games, four days and one champion. That was interesting.
The final buzzer has sounded here in Boardwalk Hall, signaling the end of this four day relationship with me, the A-10 Tournament and Atlantic City. What a trip it was. Let's look back at some of the trip's highlights (and lowlights) for the final time.
ATLANTIC CITY - At the beginning of the game, all media people got a ballot to fill out for the All-Tournament team as well as the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. I thought that was pretty cool, so before we find out who the team is, I'll share with you my selections:
Will Daniels, URI
Ahmad Nivins, St. Joe's
Carl Elliott, GW
Tommie Liddell, St. Louis
Maureece Rice, GW (MOP)
ATLANTIC CITY - That's it. GW is in the NCAA tournament after their 78-69 win over URI. The GW students have rushed the court, and are chanting Carl Elliott's name. I'm very excited right now, because I've never seen what happens AFTER people rush the court. Do they just slowly walk off? Stay on the court for an hour? This should be interesting.
ATLANTIC CITY - With 37.5 ticks left, GW is up 75-69 with the ball. Barring any crazy turn of events (read: GW misses free throws and Jimmy Baron hits threes), GW should win this game and will be on their way to the NCAA Tournament. This crowd is loving every second of it.
ATLANTIC CITY - With 4:20 left, and GW up 8, 66-58, URI needs to make a few defensive stops if they want to be able to win this game. While they are still in striking distance, if they can't stop GW's offense, this game will no longer be within their reach. Rhody could also use a couple of Jimmy Baron threes to propel them back into the thick of it. The crowd definitely feels more GW than URI right now.
ATLANTIC CITY - If URI makes the NCAA Tournament, it will be because of Will Daniels. Daniels has scored Rhody's last five points, 13 of their 18 in the half and has 25 in the game. URI trails 60-56 with 7:20 and counting remaining.
ATLANTIC CITY - With over 13 minutes left in the game, GW starting forward, Regis "Don't Call Me Philbin" Koundjia just fouled out. Regis had 11 points upon his departure. His loss could prove very costly for GW's inside game down the stretch.
ATLANTIC CITY - Both teams are flying up and down the court and giving up their bodies for charging calls. From the atmosphere in here, you can tell the fans know what is on the line, and the teams are playing like they understand too.
ATLANTIC CITY - With a 16-6 run to close out the half, GW now holds a 44-36 lead. Towards the end of the half, as GW was hitting shots and making steals, the crowd reached a, dare I say, deafening pitch. Nah, I won't dare say that, but it was pretty darn loud. Loudest it's been so far in this building.
Seawright and Baron, the two guys I said needed to play well in order for URI to win, are having pretty average games, each with only four points. Will Daniels leads the way for Rhody with 12. Mo Rice only has 5 for GW, but he is getting picked up by his teammates, as four Colonials have seven or more points.
Right now I'm watching the finals of the CSTV Atlantic 10 shootout. It's a pretty fun competition, where a team of one man and one women from each of the A-10 schools takes shots from around the court, which each area having a different point total. The team from Duquesne just shot the lights out and won the championship round and $10,000. Pretty nice night's work for them.
ATLANTIC CITY - Fueled by the guy with one of the coolest names in the tournament, Dokun Akingbade (he and Joe Mbang are tied), GW has opened up a 40-31 lead with 3:38 in the first. And thempers just started to flare here, as Mbang went up for a put back and was fouled hard by Regis Koundjia. Mbang got up and got into Koundjia's face, and the players had to be restrained.
The refs just called both coaches over and Hobbs left the meeting shaking his head and throwing his hands up. Turns out that's because Koundjia was called for a technical foul for the extra-curricular activity. URI hit three of their four free throws and got the ball back. 40-34 GW.
ATLANTIC CITY - At the under 12 minute media time out, the game is tied at 20. GW's Damain Hollis has been playing a fierce defensive game, making blocks and hustling for loose balls. Also, it seems that GW uses much more of the timeout for planning than URI does. With about 40 seconds of the break still remaining, Rhode Island coach Jim Baron and the team were sitting on the bench, just waiting for the game to begin, while Karl Hobbs and GW were still huddled, drawing up plays.
ATLANTIC CITY - Lots of scoring to start this game. After GW game out and grabbed a 14-4 lead, URI went on a quick eight point run to bring the score back to 14-11. The crowd is really into this game, and it is by far the loudest and most animated we have seen in the tournament. This should be fun.
ATLANTIC CITY - Welcome to Boardwalk Hall, where in about five minutes, one of 65 NCAA Tournament bids will be handed out to either the Rams of the University of Rhode Island or the Colonials of The George Washington University.
It's a big night here in Atlantic City. Someone's going to the Big Dance, they're serving Chinese food in the media room and I'm wearing a blazer. That's a powerful trifecta.
This game itself should not disappoint. GW is the favorite to win, and they are probably the more talented team. But there's a special feeling hovering around Rhody right now, as they have won their last two games in dramatic fashion, and beat Xavier yesterday in a game they were not supposed to win.
Rhode Island will need more big performances from Jimmy Baron and Kahiem Seawright, both guys who have stepped up in the last couple of games. GW will continue to lean on Philly's Maureece Rice to provide scoring.
The crowd isn't as large as I expected here, but maybe that will change in the next few minutes. Either way, it should be loud, as these two teams had some of the most vocal fans in the tournament. It's a pretty balanced arena right now, and I don't think either team has too much of an advantage.
ATLANTIC CITY - Ten down, one to go. Boy, does Wednesday feel like a long time ago. (A little poetry, courtesy of Matthew Shapiro.) Tonight concluded the semifinal round of the tournament, and there's only 40 more minutes to be played here in Boardwalk Hall. Lets take a look at what happened tonight, and what we're looking forward to tomorrow.
ATLANTIC CITY - St. Louis saved some face by avoiding the lowest score in the history of the A-10 tournament, but a 60-40 loss is nothing to be proud of. And the contest wasn't even as close as the score indicates. The Billikens were manhandled by GW throughout, and it was the most one-sided game of the tournament.
The game was snoozer the whole way through, and the crowd didn't help much. It was probably the quietest crowd since the first day of the tournament.
Maureece Rice was the high man for GW, dropping 22 in 34 minutes. For the Billikens, Kevin Lisch led the way with 11. St. Louis only managed 13 field goals in the game, and went 1-11 from behind the arc.
This sets up a GW vs. Rhode Island final tomorrow at 6, with a bid to the Big Dance on the line.
ATLANTIC CITY - Entering the last media timeout, the score is 49-29, GW. At this point, we're all but certain to see a GW vs. Rhode Island final tomorrow at 6. The only intrigue left is whether or not St. Louis can get to 34 points to avoid making history. Start waving goodbye to that odd looking Billiken.
ATLANTIC CITY - With 7:51 left, the score here is 43-22, George Washington. With their 22 points, St. Louis could potentially break the all-time record for low points in an A-10 conference game -- 34. That would be a pretty embarrassing way to end their season.
ATLANTIC CITY - We have reached the first media time out of the second half (4:06 in), and St. Louis has yet to score a point in the half. They will need to find their offensive groove soon, because while the Billikens have decided to go on a scoring strike, the Colonials have not been so kind, and have continued to put the ball in the basket. St. Lou is down by 14, 30-16.
ATLANTIC CITY - Despite GW's attempts to run, baskets in this game have been few and far between, as GW leads St. Louis, 25-16 at the half. Maybe it's just the score, but the crowd here seems to be pretty subdued. Ian Vouyoukas has been held to just two points, while yesterday's hero, Tommie Liddell is stuck on four. Maureece Rice leads the way for GW with 12.
CSTV A-10 Shootout update: We officially have the four finalists that will compete in tomorrow's championship round. They are: Rhode Island, Duquesne, Dayton and La Salle
ATLANTIC CITY - A media person in the row in front of me is filming the game with a hand-held camcorder and is announcing the contest as well -- without any kind of microphone. Who is he announcing for? What kind of weird network is this?
GW has opened up their lead, and is now up 18-10 with 7:17 in the first.
ATLANTIC CITY - Here's the creepy post I promised you. Yesterday, I called the UMass mascot the worst I had ever seen. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a new winner. With a little technical assistance from the Kevin Durant of CSTV basketball coverage, Mr. Bryan Armen Graham, allow me to present: George Washington.
Hide the children! Maybe it's the shiny, immovable face that gives me the feeling this guy will be haunting my dreams. BAG summed it up best when he said: "Just the mask alone sans wig could easily be the killer in a slasher film." I agree. Do you?
ATLANTIC CITY - What an atmosphere here. URI just beat No. 1 seed Xavier, 79-71, and the crowd loves it. With Xavier's loss and their likely at-large bid, this conference will now get two teams to the Dance. While ESPN is probably dreading the possibility of a URI-St. Louis matchup in the finals tomorrow night, the conference should be thrilled with this outcome, as they will have quite a bit of national media coverage.
Now that that contest is in the books, there is one more team that needs to lock up its spot in the finals, as St. Louis and GW tip-off in 21 minutes and counting. Stay tuned for something very creepy in my next post. I know that sounds weird, but just trust your Atlantic City slogger.
ATLANTIC CITY - URI is leading 68-64 with3:52 left, and right now it is the loudest it has been in this place since the tournament started. There is an eruption on every bucket, and cheers during each offensive set. We're getting closer and closer to this conference getting two bids.
ATLANTIC CITY - It seems that on every commercial break, the jumbotron is showing a commercial for the Discovery channel's "The Deadliest Catch." The show sounds good, but I think we get the point. Fishing for crab off the coast of Alaska is dangerous, we know. Let's see some new products.
In basketball news, this is another great game that shows how even this tournament has been. With 11:35 left, the score is tied 51-51. An interesting thing to note is that if URI can win this game, the A-10 will almost certainly have two teams go to the NCAA Tournament. Xavier will get an at-large bid, and someone else will win this thing. I wonder if A-10 people want to see Rhody pick up some momentum here...
ATLANTIC CITY - The first half here was, like most of these games, very competitive. Right now, the X men have a 34-33 lead. Like yesterday, Xavier's Drew Lavender had five assists in the first half, and seven different musketeers got in on the scoring action as Lavender and Justin Cage lead the way with seven points a piece. On Rhody's side, Will Daniels leads with nine.
During halftime, the CSTV A-10 Shootout took place. It's a contest in which a team of one male and one female student from each of the A-10 schools tries to make as many shots from selected points on the court as possible in 30 seconds. Looks pretty fun. I'll keep you updated on the winners, as the final round for $10,000 is tomorrow night during halftime.
ATLANTIC CITY - Now I know I'm at a sporting event. After getting in a shouting match with the people next to them, the four URI fans have been moved from their seats. Somehow in the midst of this fight, another confrontation started, at it led to two more guys getting kicked out of their seats. Now this is what I call fun.
On the court, the Rams seem to be on the same level as the Musketeers, and are leading, 27-26 with 4:43 in the first half.
Also, former Jets General Manager and current Atlantic City resident Terry Bradway is sitting about ten feet away from me with who I would guess is his son. Bradway is sporting a University of Kansas sweatshirt. He got the college part right, but couldn't he get some A-10 gear?
ATLANTIC CITY - The four most loud, obnoxious URI fans in this stadium are sitting literally two feet behind me. They have not stopped screaming at the refs AND ME since the game started. They're signature scream has been "Call a fow-ul!" His last insult to the ref was this gem: "It's good you have a big nose to smell, because you can't SEE anything." Classy.
During one of the recent screams, a drop of his spit hit the side of my computer. This is superb. When I started to write this post, one of them looked over my shoulder and said "Are you writing an article?! If you are, say how f***ing bad the A-10 refs are!" Another chimed in: "He's probably just an intern, he's not writing an article!" With this, a security guard came over and told them that they can't talk to the media. This should be fun...
Right now, Xavier and URI are tied at 11 with 12:47 in the first.
ATLANTIC CITY - Welcome back to Boardwalk Hall in beautiful southern New Jersey. In a couple of minutes, the first of two semifinal games will tip off, with No. 1 seed Xavier taking on No. 4 Rhode Island. At this point , no matter how the season went up to this point, all of these teams are just 80 good minutes of basketball away from the NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately, the atmosphere has not quite caught up with the importance of the situation, as the crowd is still pretty thin. For the first time, however, the upper deck has some patrons. Maybe that's a sign that this place will fill up as the night moves on.
ATLANTIC CITY - After 16-plus hours of basketball in Boardwalk Hall, we have finally moved on to the semifinal round. Eight games down and three to go in this tournament, and today helped give us a clearer picture of who is likely to move on to play on Saturday night -- and possibly beyond. But before we look ahead to tomorrow's action, let's take a quick peek back at the day that was.
ATLANTIC CITY - The final day two game just went final with GW beating St. Joe's, 58-48. St. Joe's flirted with a comeback, but the outcome never really felt in doubt. The only way that St. Joe's hung around as long as they did was the post play from Ahmad Nivins, but even that couldn't keep them in it for too long.
ATLANTIC CITY - With 30.2 seconds left and GW up 56-46, St. Joe's Darrin Govens threw up an ugly three that didn't even catch iron, but the ref said he was fouled in the act of shooting. Well, coach Hobbs didn't like this, but instead of arguing, he literally ran off the court and watched the free throws from behind the Gatorade cooler and next to the male cheerleaders.
ATLANTIC CITY - St. Joe's has fought back to bring the lead within three with 15:48 left. GW coach Karl Hobbs, who I have heard can get quite animated in pressure situations (read: he goes nuts all the time), had been relatively calm all night. Maybe that's because his team was dominating. Now that the game is close, Hobbs is flying up and down the sidelines, banging his feet on the ground and screaming nearly every possession. Very fun to watch.
ATLANTIC CITY - While St. Joe's has made a couple of attempts to cut into the lead, GW is really controlling the game, and they lead 33-21 at the half.
Philadelphia native Maureece Rice has ten for GW, while Nivins leads the way for St. Joes with eight. St. Joe's is shooting a terrible 5-22 from the field and is only 1-6 from behind the arc.
Right now, the halftime show is a dog named hyper Hannah running around catching frisbees. The only problem is that double H is only about 50% on the receptions. I'm going to need at least 80% if you want me to be impressed.
ATLANTIC CITY - I just caught something that i don't know if I would have seen from anywhere else. On St. Joes' last offensive set, center Ahmad Nivins was posting up and calling for the ball. Pat Calathes didn't get him the ball fast enough so Nivins started yelling "Come on! Come on!" as he was holding off the defender with his left arm. When Calathes finally tried to get him the ball, it was too late, and the pass went out of bounds. Nivins continued to yell at Calathes, and the substitution buzzer immediately rang, calling for Calathes to come out of the game. I guess Martelli agreed with Nivins...
ATLANTIC CITY - Early stages of the night cap here, and GW has come out firing, taking a 8-0 lead and forcing St. Joe's Coach Phil Martelli to use a time-out just two minutes in. The GW faithful are a very vocal bunch, as each score garners some of the loudest eruptions this arena has seen yet.
ATLANTIC CITY - Finally! No. 7 seed St. Louis just took down No. 2 Umass, 74-71. It almost looked like the basketball gods were going to make sure the top seeds stayed in the tournament, as with 18 seconds left, clinging to a two-point lead, St. Louis committed a back-court violation giving the ball back to UMass.
ATLANTIC CITY - For the first time in two days, a game has gone to overtime. With the score tied 65-65, St. Louis guard Kevin Lisch fired up an off-balanced three in double coverage that found the front iron but didn't go down. St. Louis' quest to score the first upset of the tournament is still alive.
ATLANTIC CITY - With underdog St. Louis leading 50-49 with 7:43 left in the game, I began thinking about an odd trend in this tournament. While there hasn't yet been an upset in Atlantic City, nearly the entire field has been very even. Other than Xavier, no team has really separated itself from the pack here. Even Richmond, the team that was considered to be by far the worst in the conference put up a good fight yesterday. That being said, it's very bizarre that not even one of these teams that showed they could play with the best could actually win a game.
ATLANTIC CITY - Behind the one-two punch of Tommie Liddell and Ian Vouyoukas, St. Louis has come back from an 8 point deficit to take the lead, 35-34 with 12:58 left in the game. The St. Louis crowd is very small, but the people that are here erupted when Vouyoukas hit a shot in the paint to give St. Louis the lead.
ATLANTIC CITY - After watching six and a half basketball games here, I think I have learned the secret of what makes fans, players and coaches the angriest: referees huddling after a questionable call. Sure, the officials are doing the right thing by conferring in these situations, but during that quick powwow, people on both sides are simply getting riled up and gaining ammo for saying the refs are being indecisive. When the officials leave the huddle and make the call, the complaints are worse than ever, because the refs have made themselves vulnerable by showing they weren't 100% sure what the right call was.
ATLANTIC CITY - There's 7:30 left in the first half and UMass leads St. Louis 19-17. Of those 17 points, Billikenn sophomore Tommie Liddell has 11. After scoring the first two points of the game, St. Louis' main inside threat, Ian Vouyoukas, has been held scoreless.
As for the crowd, attendance has picked up a bit, and there are certainly more UMass fans here than St. Louis fans -- a nice advantage for the Minutemen to have.
ATLANTIC CITY - We're back in Boardwalk Hall for the evening session of the A-10 tournament quarterfinals, where the No. 2 seed Massachusetts Minutemen (23-7, 13-3) are set to take on the No. 7 seed St. Louis Billikens.
ATLANTIC CITY - Fordham did get the ball into Brenton Butler's hands, but the freshman couldn't deliver. After being blanketed with superb defense, Butler tried to evade the defender to get a shot off, but lost his pivot foot and was called for traveling with 0.9 seconds left.
ATLANTIC CITY - After being heckled by Fordham fans all game, Jimmy Baron, son of URI Head Coach Jim Baron, just drove to the basket and nailed a lay up to give URI a 71-69 lead with 11.1 left. Fordham has the ball back and may look to get the rock in the hands of leading scorer (22), Brenton Butler.
ATLANTIC CITY - This Fordham/Rhode Island game has really lived up to the hype, and has been the best of the tournament so far. Two good teams battling back and forth with lead changes, ref controversies and rowdy fans always makes for fun. Right now, its a 67-67 game with 1:49 left. Whichever team wins this game will give No. 1 seed, Xavier some problems tomorrow night.
ATLANTIC CITY - Fordham has given their fans life, and their fans, in turn, have breathed some back into their Rams. Fordham's 63-60 lead with 7 minutes remaining has given this building a reason to cheer, and finally, this whole arena is alive.
Fordham is flying around, and making hustle plays that are keeping them in the lead. With nine seconds on the shot clock a couple of minutes ago, Fordham forward Michael Binns threw up a desperation three that didn't even catch iron. As Rhode Island players slowly moved to secure the ball, Fordham's Sebastian Greene flew in between the stagnant URI players and, as he was going out of bounds, threw the ball off of one of their feet to give Fordham possession back. That play really summed up the way Fordham is playing in this half.
ATLANTIC CITY - With 16:32 left, Fordham has stormed back from the once 16 point lead to tie the game at 46. On the three pointer to tie it up, the crowd was the loudest it has been on both days, and this place is really starting to feel like major basketball tournament. Fordham has opened the half on a spirited 11-2 run.
ATLANTIC CITY - After falling behind by 16 points, the boys from the Bronx fought back, brining the score within seven and, more importantly, bringing the crowd roaring back. The first 20 minutes have been fast paced and fairly high scoring, and Rhode Island has a 44-35 lead at the half.
ATLANTIC CITY - Maybe it's just because their team is losing, but Fordham fans are absolutely killing the refs. On every no call (or call), the fans are pummeling the refs with insults and, if there weren't so many young Fordham fans here, they'd probably be saying even more.
Interestingly, this is the same group of refs that were yelled at all day during the Dayton vs. Charlotte game. Maybe the fans are onto something.
URI is leading 21-16 with 7 minutes left in the first.
ATLANTIC CITY - I think Fordham's crowd may be the loudest of the tournament so far. They're chanting "DEFENSE" on every Rhode Island possession, and going nuts when Fordham sinks a basket. They've got a little edge, too (as if people from the Bronx not being perfectly well mannered is a shock), as every time R.I.'s Jimmy Baron makes a play, the crowd nails him with the "Daddy's Boy" chant. Jimmy is the son of Jim, head coach for Rhode Island.
The game is a great one so far, with Rhode Island leading 13-12 with 12:50 left in the first.
ATLANTIC CITY - In the first true blowout of the tournament, Xavier cruised past Dayton, 72-51. The win was Xavier's third of the year over the Flyers, and the combined margin of victory in those games was 45.
ATLANTIC CITY - Since the game is likely over (Xavier leads by 19 with 4:49 left), the best matchup left in here is the battle between the pep bands.
You'd think that the bands would have some respect for eachother, seeing as they're pretty familiar with what it takes to be a band member. But no way -- no respect here. When one team starts playing, the other, even if it had no plans to play, picks up their instruments to drown out the other.
Also, the Xavier fans just got the school's president to stand up, take off his sports jacket and give the big "X" sign (crossed arms in front of head) to the crowd.
ATLANTIC CITY - Xavier has done what no one else seems to have been able to yet: bury an opponent. With a combination of sharp shooting and very tight defense, the Musketeers have opened up a 52-34 lead with 12:08 left in the second half.
Since everyone else in this blog is talking about runs, I'll throw one in there too. Since the start of the second half, Xavier has gone on a 19-7 charge.
ATLANTIC CITY - We've reached the half, and Xavier has taken the lead, 33-27. What makes this game different than the last ones is that while the better team went down early, it was able to regroup and snap back into form.
ATLANTIC CITY - For the fifth consecutive game, the lower seed has jumped out to the early lead. Dayton is currently up on Xavier, 19-17. The lead could have something to do with the Dayton band's brilliant way of confusing the X men during their offensive sets.
With about 10 seconds left on the shot clock for Xavier, Dayton's band starts counting down from five, making everyone on the court seem a bit rushed. When the clock gets to "zero" (around five in reality), the band lets out a huge "EEEHHHH" sound, trying to sound like the buzzer. The Musketeers are likely not actually affected by it, but I like the concept either way.
ATLANTIC CITY - Because I'm in the heart of A-10 country right now, and have become friendly with a few writers from the St. Bonaventure school paper, I just got word that Bonnies Head Coach Anthony Solomon has been fired.
Solomon, who came from Notre Dame, had a 24-88 record in four years and a 10-54 mark in the A-10. Also, in the last two years, the Bonnies finished 13th out of 14th in the conference and failed to make the A-10 tourney.
Seems like the right move to let him go, doesn't it?
ATLANTIC CITY - It's just noon, but from what I've seen in my hotel and on the streets in A.C., Xavier fans travel very well. With one of the longest trips (over 600 miles from Cincinnati), I'm impressed to see such a turnout.
ATLANTIC CITY - For the fourth time today, a lower seeded team has fought valiantly against a higher seed, only to fall in the end. Temple just didn't have enough in the tank, and lost for the third time this year to St. Joe's, this time 66-62.
ATLANTIC CITY - For the third straight game, the winner will be determined in the final minute. Right now, St. Joe's has taken the lead, 69-68 and Temple has fouled St. Joes with 22.5 left. It will come down to whether or not St. Joe's can hit free throws.
ATLANTIC CITY - With 10:33 left, Temple was up 50-41. With 9:26 remaining, the score is 50-47. The crowd seems to be generally leaning towards Temple, but the recent run has put some noise back into the St. Joe's fans here. This is one of those times where the lower seeded team needs to stand its ground and make sure not to get overwhelmed by the better teams' comeback attempt.
ATLANTIC CITY - I think I have a new favorite player: Temple's Sergio Olmos. The sophomore center from Spain is 7-0, but with his posture, looks about 6-7. He lumbers up and down the court, like he hasn't quite grown into his frame. Anytime Olmos does something positive, the crowd goes into a frenzy and starts chanting "Ole! Ole, Ole, Ole!" Right now, Olmos has two points and four fouls. Ole!
ATLANTIC CITY - With no time left on the clock, Temple senior Dustin Salisbery nailed a three from in between half court and the three point line to give the Owls a 32-28 lead. My sleepers are showing what they're made of.
ATLANTIC CITY - Usually, in the opening round of a tournament, you can count on at least one blow out. But today, the lower seeds are simply refusing to be embarrassed. The formula of the low ranked team hanging tight with the big guys is continuing in this game, as Temple leads St. Joe's 25-19 with 4:30 left in the first half.
On a side note, I think I know why that St. Joe Hawk gets in so many fights. His trademark arm-flapping gets very annoying, and if I was in the opposing team's corner, I think I'd want to punch him in the head, too.
ATLANTIC CITY - The final first round game is underway, with No. 6 seed St. Joe's (17-13, 9-7) facing No. 11 seed, Temple (12-17, 6-10). The game has certainly brought out the biggest crowd of the night, as the Philly schools are only about 60 miles from this venue.
ATLANTIC CITY - I think you all should know that CSTV is being advertised all over this arena, from the scrolling ad on the scorers table to the jumbo tron. Apparently, our slogan is "The Experts in College Sports.” CSTV's people are "The Experts in College Sports" and I'm a CSTV person. You do the math. What a great ad.
ATLANTIC CITY - After Ian Vouyoukas missed the front-end of the one and one, the Dukes had one more shot with 4 seconds left. Gary Tucker came down the court and, after bobbling the ball because of a good defensive play from Kevin Lisch, missed the potential game winner. 78-77, St. Louis.
ATLANTIC CITY - For the second game in a row, the contest will come down to the wire. Duquene's Scott Grote got fouled with Duquesne down two and 7.6 seconds left. He hit the first, and...missed the second to the right! With a one-point lead, Vouyoukas heads to the line for the Billikens.
ATLANTIC CITY - One of the cool things about sitting so close to the crowd is hearing all their funny cheers, words for the refs and nicknames for the players. Well, every time Duquesne's Robert Mitchell touches the ball, the crowd screams "Come on, Sticks!"
ATLANTIC CITY - While there are still more empty seats than full ones, this crowd is starting to get bigger. Each turnover, blown call and shot draws a cheer. At this point, I would say that there are more Duquesne fans than there are St. Louis fans, but that's to be expected with the location of the schools. Fans who have traveled from St. Louis to sit in this arena during a snow storm certainly have my respect.
ATLANTIC CITY - While this is only the first round of the tournament, all of the games have featured tight, hard-fought first halves. In this one, the Dukes and the Billikens have gone punch for punch, and the Dukes lead 43-37 going into the intermission.
ATLANTIC CITY - It's tough to be a cheerleader when no one is cheering. I feel kind of bad for the Duquesne and St. Louis cheerleaders right now, because when they come out and do their elaborate cheers and formations, no one even seems to be watching. They shake their hands and smile and wide as they can, but I really wonder if they're thinking anything but "why the hell is no one cheering along with us?"
ATLANTIC CITY - That's right folks, Mr. Bracketology himself, Joe Lunardi has entered the building. He seems to be a quasi-celebrity amongst media people, as he has been saying hello to everyone, shaking hands and kissing babies (I made up the last thing, but I'm sure if there were babies here, he'd be kissing them).
As for the game, it's been a pretty good one so far, as the lead has changed hands on several occasions. Right now, the Dukes lead 26-24 with seven minutes left. Billiken Ian Vouyoukas got the crowd fired up with a big slam (possibly the first of the day), and followed it on the next possession with a nice low-post move to give St. Louis a temporary lead.
ATLANTIC CITY - If you ever find yourself in Atlantic City during 20-degree weather and a snow storm, you don't need to make it a point to walk around the boardwalk. After the break between sessions, I decided to walk back to the arena to check out the boardwalk. Bad move.
ATLANTIC CITY - What a performance turned in by Richmond. On the final possession, freshman David Gonzalvez tried to go baseline but was double teamed and threw up an air-ball. Final score: 63-61, Fordham. While they didn't win, most didn't even give Richmond a shot to be this close at the end.
ATLANTIC CITY - 7.2 seconds left, and Fordam is clinging to a 62-61 lead. Richmond has the ball and will certainly hold for the last shot. If Richmond could pull this off, it would really be a major upset.
ATLANTIC CITY - No matter the outcome of this game, Richmond has proven that they deserve to be in this tournament. With 1:04 left, the game is tied 59-59. I'm impressed with Richmond's ability to hit back each time they seem to be on the brink of getting knocked down. They were just down four, and on the brink of being finished, and after a couple of baskets and a stop have tied it up.
ATLANTIC CITY - I just went to the media room to grab a bottle of water and witnessed a very unfortunate sight. On the floor in front of me was the Fordham mascot's head. The problem was that there was no body attached to this head. While I never imagined that the ram was truly a ram, I wasn't pleased to see some sweaty guy in an Under Armour shirt with a ram body on.
As for the game, Richmond is hanging tight, down by one, 56-55, with 3:46 to go. This is the most the crowd has been into the game, and for the first time, this place has some buzz to it.
ATLANTIC CITY - While they no longer have the lead, Richmond continues to fight here in Boardwalk Hall. Fordham is up 31-28 at the half, but by simply watching this game, you'd have no idea that Richmond only won three games in the A-10. Often, the second half of a game separates the good from the bad. Lets see if Richmond really has what it takes, or if they will wither like Charlotte did last game.
ATLANTIC CITY - Fordham is the highest seeded team playing today, and was supposed to roll over Richmond, a team who starts three freshmen and lost to the two A-10 teams who didn't even qualify for the tournament. Right now, Fordham is far from rolling, down 22-19.
ATLANTIC CITY - Richmond, the worst team in this conference (8-21, 4-12), is leading Fordham 9-8. If the game ended right now, Richmond would face Rhode Island tomorrow at 2. And Richmond beat Rhode Island last week. Therefore, Richmond is virtually already playing in Friday's semi-final round. Maybe something that's playing to their advantage is how much freshman Brian Morris looks like Adam Morrison. He has long hair, and from what it looks like, possibly a wispy mustache. More on the facial hair to come...
ATLANTIC CITY - Sometimes arena music is stupid. Loud techno beats or oddly created mixes don't reverberate too well in most places. But the crew at Boardwalk Hall knows how to pick 'em. The just closed out the break strong with the always popular "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" theme song. And I can tell you this: if you're ever in a situation where you need to get the Richmond Spiders basketball team dancing in their lay-up lines, play this tune. Not quite sure why you would need to do that, but if you do, thanks to me, you now know how.
ATLANTIC CITY - Sorry I've been gone for a bit, but it looks like the clock isn't the only thing that has some problems in this building. The internet was out for about an hour. Apparently, leaving a TV camera on the wireless router will cause some connection problems. Who knew?
ATLANTIC CITY - The first half of basketball here in Boardwalk Hall is in the books, and overall, it was a pretty good 20 minutes, as Charlotte leads 35-28. As I said earlier, both teams shot lots of 3's, with Dayton hitting 4-8, and Charlotte going 5-15. Leemire Goldwire is leading the charge for the Niners, with 15 points in 15 minutes (4-7 from behind the arc). The game feels tighter than the seven-point margin, and the difference has been Dayton's seven turnovers to Charlotte's two.
ATLANTIC CITY - It's not a good day to be the clock operator here in Boardwalk Hall. Right after the opening tip, play had to be stopped because the clock hadn't started. Then, with 2:06 left in the first half, a timeout was called. The teams stopped, but the clock didn't. In fact it ran for around a minute and a half (during which time, media people and fans were screaming at the refs to wake up) before it was finally noticed and set back. Yikes. Let's hope this one doesn't come down to a buzzer beater or heads may roll.
ATLANTIC CITY - It may be snowing outside, but in here, it's raining threes. I will get the official numbers as soon as I can get them, but the game seems to be all about three-pointers, with each team relying heavily on the three-ball. It's really no surprise coming from Charlotte, as they led the A-10 during the regular season with 8.72 threes per game. It's more of a shock coming from Dayton, however, as they were ninth in the conference with 6.21 trifectas per contest.
ATLANTIC CITY - Welcome to snowy Atlantic City, where, in just a few minutes, the Atlantic 10 conference tournament will tip off with the Charlotte 49ers (No. 9 seed) taking on the Dayton Flyers (No. 8).
AMHERST, Mass. – All UMass coach Travis Ford could do was look at the stat sheet and shake his head. His team had just dominated Rhode Island from tip to buzzer for its 17th win of the season. His Minutemen out-rebounded the Rams to the tune of 50-39, held Rhody to 27 percent shooting from the field and got the Mullins Center a rocking again, just like the good ole days of John Calipari.
But it was one particular line that kept grabbing Ford’s attention.
“It’s ridiculous,” said the second-year coach. “Eighteen (points), 11 (blocks) and 12 (rebounds). That’s incredible.”
AMHERST, Mass. - It's been garbage time for quite some time here at The Mullins as UMass has completely demoralized the Rams. The Minutemen win, 77-55 and assume first place in the A-10.
Stephane Lasme had his third triple-double of the season and is now just the eighth player in NCAA history with three double-doubles in a single season. With 1:56 left he finished his night with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks. When the announcement was made, some students began chanting, "NBA, NBA, NBA." Whether or not his complete game is NBA-worthy is still up for debate, but his NCAA skills are unquestioned.
Lasme got a hug from Travis Ford when he was replaced with 1:46 left in the game, by Luke Bonner (brother of Matt).
. . . Through the under 4:00 media timeout, Rhody was shooting 26 percent for the game (15 of 58) and was having a worse second half (24 percent) than first half (28 percent). Incredible, really.
UMass was at 49 percent for the game (58 percent in the second half) on 29 of 59 from the field.
AMHERST, Mass. - This has got to be one of UMass's most well-balanced efforts of the season. Travis Ford has had contributions up and down the roster and the Minutemen are playing with passion and poise. WIth 7:46 left in the game, the Minutemen lead 67-46.
If they continue to play like this, the Minutemen will not only be favorites to win the A-10 Tournament in Atlantic City, they will start to become a trendy "Cinderella" pick come NCAA Tournament Time.
AMHERST, Mass. - After cutting the lead to 11 right out of the break, Rhody again finds itself trailing by a wide margin. With 15:49 to go in the game, UMass now leads, 52-34, matching its largest lead of the game.
. . . James Life picked up his third foul of the game with 18:18 left in the game. He remained in the game for Travis Ford.
. . . Rhody is back in its 2-3 zone to start the second half.
AMHERST, Mass. - The bad news for the Rams is that they shot a brutal 28 percent (8 of 29) from the field in the first half. the good news is they're only down by 14 at the break.
UMass shot 47 percent form the field in the first 20 minutes (16 of 34) and out-rebounded the Rams 23-20. The story of the game of so far has been UMass's ability to score inside, at will. With 28 first half point in the paint, the Minutemen outscored the entire Rhody team from within the lane.
. . . It's been a surprisingly tunrover-free game, with Rhody sitting on four turns and UMass committing just one.
AMHERST, Mass. - The Minutemen continue to dominate, especially in the paint where the team scored all of its first ten points.
At the under-12:00 media timeout, UMass leads 16-4. The Rams continue to sturggle in finding a rhythm, while the Minutemen have been able to work their offense and find open players. Stephane Lasme has six points in the early going for the Minutemen and Gary Forbes has added four.
AMHERST, Mass. - UMass got out to 10-0 lead, necessitating a time-out by Jim Baron with 16:14 left in the half. The Rams are ice cold from the field, inclduing a dunk attempt from Joe Mbang with 15:46 left in the half that he lost complete control of.
At the first media timeout, the Minutemen hold that 10-0 edge and are playing inspired ball on the defensive end, something we had not see in our last two viewings of the Minutemen.
. . . Rhode Island has opened in a 2-3 zone on defense and UMass is going man-to-man.
AMHERST, Mass. - Both endzones are predominantly filled with students and the sideline seats (i.e. the locals) are starting to fill in.
As the Minutemen took the floor for the contest, a snippet of "Men in Black" was played on the video screens in each endzone. Nice touch. Although it's a bit surprising that UMass isn't weraing its alternate black uniforms.
. . . Keeping with the night's theme, UMass trainer Ron Laham is dressed in all-black. We have taken to calling him Ronny Cash for the remainder of the night.
. . . We were able to share some time with UMass assistant athletic director, Thorr Bjorn, just before the tip. One of the nation's finest and most kind-hearted administrators, Bjorn is riding the wave of UMass's recent athletic success (national runners-up in both lacrosse and football). "Things have been great," said Bjorn. "Hopefully we can keep it going."
Just an aside on Bjorn - back in his days as the ticket master for the athletic department, he was in charge of deciding when to open the doors to the arena. On especially cold nights, the students would chant, "Thorr, Thorr, Open the (Expletive deleted) door.
AMHERST, Mass. – We’re 30 minutes from tip at the Mullins Center and the end zone student sections are filling in with black-clad fans as part of “Black Out Night.”
The Rams started stretching with about 50 minutes before tip. They are in their road baby blue uniforms with blue shooting jerseys and now are shooting around. UMass took the floor with 27:00 until tip. They are in marron warm-ups with home white uniforms underneath.
. . . Lots of Johnny Cash (the man in black) being played over the sound system in honor of Black Out Night. We're cool with that.
First Place in the A-10 On the Line at the Mullins
AMHERST, Mass. – Welcome to the Mullins Center for tonight’s Atlantic 10 game between the host, UMass Minutemen (16-6, 6-2) and the visiting University of Rhode Island Rams (14-9, 7-2). It’s the second time in two weeks that the former Yankee Conference rivals will meet with first place on the line.
. . . On January 24, Rhody won at home, 75-72, putting the Rams in first place. A win at Fordham last Saturday put URI back in the top spot (after relinquishing it to George Washington) - marking the first time since the 1997-98 season the Rams had been in sole possession of first place in the conference in the month of February.
Despite all that, UMass has been installed as a surprising 12 point favorite tonight by the Wiseguys in Vegas.
. . . A handful of Minutemen are currently shooting around on the parquet of the Mullins, including sharpshooter James Life. Rashaun Freeman for the Minutemen is also working out on the same half of the court where LIfe is.
CHESNUT HILL, Mass. - We’re moments from tip of this one and the we should expect a close contest throughout (the Vegas wise guys have BC as a very slight, one point, favorite).
Maryland is averaging just under 81 points per game and BC is at just under 75 points - but both teams allow just 64 points per game. BC has trouble hitting its 3-pointers (.277 on the year), while Maryland shoots .401 from beyond the arc.
KINGSTON, R.I. - His nickname is Niffty, his accent is Australian and his game, according to his coach, is still in its formative stages.
But Utah’s 7-foot-1, 265-pound sophomore, Luke Nevill had his East Coast unveiling on Saturday at the Ryan Center and the overall reaction after he went 10-for-14 from the field for a season-high 25 points and 16 rebounds (in 38 minutes), was one of awe.
Or more precisely, for at least one observer, one of Uwe.
KINGSTON, R.I. - We’ve got overtime at the Ryan Center, after a wild finish saw Utah’s Shaun Green hit a desparation three to knot the game 72-72 as time expired. It was Green's third 3-pointer of the game.
Following Keith Cothran’s one of two from the line for Rhody with 15 seconds left, Utah in-bounded and Johnnie Bryant missed a wild 3-pointer which would have tied the game. The ball went out of bounds near the Ute bench, leaving .7 seconds remaining. Utah inbounded from that spot, executed a tremendous play and Shaun Green buried a 30-foot swish to send the game into overtime.
Utah then came out and hit the first field goal of the OT for its first lead of the afternoon.
KINGSTON, R.I. - Utah displays great perimeter ball movement and it’s helped them to stay in the game, trailing 59-53 with 7:41 left in the game. The Utes are 3-of-6 from 3-point land in the second half and 7-of-19 for the game.
Luke Nevill continues to lead all scorers with 15 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. He is 6-of-9 from the field.
KINGSTON, R.I. - Rhody got out on a 7-2 run to start the second half, forcing Ray Giacoletti to call a timeout with 17:11 left in the game. It was reminiscent of the first half run by the Rams that had the same effect.
The first possession after the timeout resulted in a Luke Nevill dunk. But the next tow Rhody trips resulted in 3-pointers from Parfait Bitee and Jimmy Baron. Rhody now leads 51-43 with 13:25 left in the game.
KINGSTON, R.I. - An entertaining first of basketball form the Ryan Center as the teams combined to take 27 3-pointers (four makes for Utah and six for URI).
Utah has been gaining more and more comfort in the half court set and Rhody continues to try and push things when they can, but only managed two fast break points in the first stanza. The pace, at this point, favors the Utes.
KINGSTON, R.I. - Rhode Island has managed to maintain a 34-30 lead with 2:04 left in the half. Utah’s 3-point shot is starting to fall and Luke Nevill continues to dominate in the middle with 11 points and 8 rebounds.
KINGSTON, R.I. - Rhode Island opened with two straight 3-pointers to spring out to a 6-0 lead. It’s the second straight game in which Rhody has opened with back-to-back threes.
Rhody proceeded to hit its first four threes (two for Will Daniels), taking a 14-6 lead and forced Utah to call a timeout with 16:24 left in the half. Both teams were perfect form the field (8-8) through the games first four minutes.
KINGSTON, R.I. - Just about 10 minutes from tip and the Ryan Center is starting to fill in a bit.
The locals haven’t quite embraced the Runnin’ Rams yet, but Rhody still draws fairly well, averaging 3,699 per home game. The Rams win 60 percent of the time in this building which opened four years ago. The Ram Dome holds 7,687.
. . . The Utah roster has a big international flavor with two Serbians, two Australians and a French native.
. . . The Hang Time Sign of the Day goes to the creative soul in the North end zone who has created a “Hit’em So They Can’t Seawright” poster in honor of Rhody sophomore Kahiem Seawright, the team‘s minutes (31.8 mpg) and rebounding leader (9.2 rpg).the game.
KINGSTON, R.I. - We’re about 45 minutes from tip at The Ram Dome, aka the Ryan Center and after watching Utah shoot around, beginning at about 12:45, we have but one conclusion: They grow ‘em big in Salt Lake.
With two seven-footers listed on the roster, it appears the Utes have about five who hover quite close to the 84-inch mark. We’re quite excited to see Luke Nevill, who Coach Giacoletti was raving about back at MWC media day. He was comparing Nevill quite favorably with former Ute, Andrew Bogut, the consensus National Player of the Year in 2004-2005 and Milwaukee‘s No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. Nevill shoots 70 percent form the field currently; Bogut, in his POY campaign shot 62 percent.
. . The first playing of the season’s anthem, “Show Me What You Got (Little Momma)” was played in pre-game at 12:54 EST. My Budweiser reflex kicked in almost immediately. That’s good marketing.
KINGSTON, R.I. - Welcome to the Ryan Center on the campus of the University of Rhode Island for today’s cross-country match up between the 5-4 URI Rams (Atlantic 10) and the 3-4 Utah Utes (Mountain West).
Be prepared for all manner of “U” usage as we unravel the 2 p.m. tip that will serve as both teams final game before a week off for finals.
Utah game notes can be here; and Rhody notes are here.
BOSTON - Down, 56-54, his private school Terriers dressed in white, wouldn't stop biting, scratching and nipping at the heels of the big state university with the mean, black uniforms and the script "UMass" on the chest.
Unfortunately, Dennis Wolff, the coach, did stop pestering the repeatedly lackluster and mostly benign Minutemen.
He stopped everyone, in fact, with a timeout - ball in hand - with 4.2 seconds remaining and BU down a deuce.
Problem was, that at about 4.4 seconds, freshman Tyler Morris launched what would have been his third 3-point attempt of the game. It also would have been the only one he made (a swish, no-less) and it would have, in all likeliehood given BU a deserved come-from-behind win.
Instead Wolff, in his 13th year at BU, called a timeout he later said he wished he didn't have. He was granted the stoppage, rightfully so, by official John Hughes, and Travis Ford's Minutemen escaped Boston - barely.
"Obviously I should not have called that timeout," said Wolff. "What I told the kids in the locker room is that the only person that should be blamed for this loss, is me."
BOSTON - UMass continues to play in fits and starts as BU refuses to go away, but a good Minuteman spurt in the 6:00-area moved the lead back to 10, after it had been trimmed to 5. A key three by Minuteman Brandon Thomas was included in the run.
Now, with 2:17 left in the game, UMass leads 56-51 with the ball.
BOSTON - UMass continues to show flashes of good team play and has doubled its half-time lead to 36-30 with 15:12 left in the game.
UMass’s Luke Bonner hit his first collegiate 3-pointer at the 18:00 minute mark to put UMass ahead 32-28. Bonner is a sophomore transfer from West Virginia where he played in 22 games and went 0 for 11 from 3-point range as a freshman.
BOSTON - UMass out-rebounded the Terriers 20-14 and shot 43 percent fromthe field, but still only lead by three at the half. BU shot 33 percent for the first stanza and Corey Lowe was 2-of-7.
Travis Ford's lingering concerns over free-throw shooting and turnovers have reared their heads once again as UMass turned over the ball 10 times (four for Rashaun Freeman) to just five for BU. The Minutemen were 7-of-11 form the line, but failed to convert at least three one-and ones.
BOSTON - BU’s Corey Lowe - immediately after some praise and love form Hang Time - began to force things a bit for BU and some poor shot selection (including a 3-pointer from New Hampshire) helped UMass surge ahead to an eight point lead with 2:08 left.
Lowe then took another deep three with 14.8 seconds left in the half and was fouled on the swish. He completed the four-point play to trim the Minuteman lead to 27-24.
That is where we stand at half, as the scrappy Terriers have given the Minutemen all they can handle. Lowe finished with six first half points and Morris Tyler had seven for the Terriers.
BOSTON - UMass trainer Ron Laham is leading the Minutemen through pre-game stretching as The Ag begins to slowly fill up for the men’s portion of the doubleheader.
The final Minuteman stretched out by Laham was Rashaun Freeman. BU had been in the locker room for a bit by the time the Minutemen returned for final pre-game instructions.
. . . UMass is wearing the rare all-black unis that were deemed jinxes back in the day by the Minutemen under John Calipari. The team always wanted to wear the black, but the Coach used it is a carrott to dangle in front of his players faces for big games they NEEDED to win. Tonight's game doesn't quailify as such, but it's pretty close.
BOSTON - . . . And we’re back in The Ag, where the BU women’s team is involved in a one-point game with under a minute to go against Brown. The Lady Terriers hit a go-ahead shot with just over two seconds left and held on for the 60-59 win.
. . .It was a nice change of pace to do a little live-blogging from a bursting-at-the-seems T’s Pub. But we’re wise enough to know where that blogging session was headed.
BOSTON - T's Pub is filling with a post-work crowd and the Umies are doing their best to take over the place.
Leading the UMass cheering group is the president of the Friends of UMass Football, Bill DeFlavio. DeFlavio, who played at UMass from 1968-72, is one of many alum who are finding the sudden resurgence of UMass sports to his liking.
"I know for football, we've got a great coach and a great athletic department and it's exciting to be aorund it right now," said DeFlavio. "It feels a lot like 1998 (UMass's first National Championship in football). There's that kind of excitement and Coach Brown was the defensive coordinator for that team.
BOSTON - Through the wonder of wireless and a short walk up Comm Ave, we are now with you (plausibly) live at T’s. There are a several UMass alums filtering in and we've already met up with Associate AD Tim Kenney who is shaking hands and kissing babies. Okay, there's no babies - but he's working the room nicely.
It’s a big week for UMass athletics as the football team is playing in the semifinals of the (formerly known as) I-AA Playoffs, on Friday night against Montana.
BOSTON - Welcome to the Agganis Arena on the campus of Boston University where the 3-4 Terriers are set to host the 6-2 UMass Minutemen. Currently, the 4-3 BU women are playing the opener of the men’s/women’s doubleheader against 2-7 Brown, with the Lady Terriers leading 20-12 midway through the first half.
BU’s men’s team is in the middle of four consecutive (and five overall) games against Atlantic 10 opponents, and stands 1-2 in its trip through the adopted scheduling partner (losing its season-opener at home to George Washington). The Terriers also lost 55-39 at St. Joseph’s and throttled St. Bonaventure 74-46 this past Saturday night.
BU plays A-10 member, Rhode Island on the 22nd (its next game after a two-week plus break for finals) and could possibly face St. Joe’s again in the MSG Holiday Fest on Dec. 29. The Terriers are 44-83 all-time vs. the A-10 and 29-39 vs. UMass. Dennis Wolff, at one-time a potential candidate for the UMass job, is 0-4 against the Minutemen.
UMass (just dropped from CSTV.com’s Cindex ratings) is coming off an 84-73 home loss to Boston College on Saturday night. The game was hardly that close (check Hang Time’s Saturday entries) and the Minutemen need to show bounce-back ability against a less-talented America East foe.
AMHERST, Mass. - There was a time when this was exactly the kind of game the UMass program would have taken to the Mullins Center Court and absolutely throttled its BCS conference opponent. The place would have been going wild, the indoor humidity would have been climbing and John Calipari would have been exhorting the fans, his team and probably a few ushers into “Refusing to Lose.”
But that time is long ago (the early 1990s) and far away (six years and counting since a post-season berth) and second-year head coach Travis Ford has to settle for the moral victory of filling the house and keeping it close - for about eight minutes of game time. His Atlantic 10 Minutemen fell well short against the ACC’s Boston College on Saturday night, 84-73, before the first sellout crowd (9,493) in Amherst in almost five years.
AMHERST, Mass. - Well, so much for Cindex No. 10 UMass’s return to the national spotlight - at least for now. The Minutemen continue to trail 72-59 with just under four minutes remaining in the game and BC managed to expose the Minutemen a bit by slowing down the game and defending the 3-point shot.
UMass will still be fine in-conference, but this was the opportunity for a statement game against an ACC opponent and coach Travis Ford’s troops didn’t answer the bell. There’s no other way of stating it.
AMHERST, Mass. - The Minutemen are more active on defense (the sign of a good halftime speech) and were managing to stay with the Eagles, but a regrouped Eagles team has once again extended its lead to 57-44 with 11:44 left.
Jared Dudley, who had five points, four rebounds and a team-high six assists in the first half, has stepped up his scoring in the second half and now has 10 points for BC. Rashaun Freeman continues to pace UMass with 16.
The re-energization that UMass’s mini-run gave the building has been all but extinguished.
AMHERST, Mass. - UMass has been able to run a bit more to start the second half and the full court press after made baskets has rattled BC to some extent, as the Eagles half time lead has dwindled to five points, 46-41, with 15:43 left in the game.
. . . James Life hit s a three-pointer for UMass, with 15:47 left to cut the BC lead to 46-41 and bring the Mullins Center crowd back into the game. This is more of what the Minutemen were hoping for and BC is going to need to answer with some up and down play, as well.
AMHERST, Mass. - Stephane Lasme and Rashaun Freeman have kept UMass in the game with 10 points each through the first 17:30 minutes, but BC has taken the air out of the Mullins Center with its 34-25 lead with 2:31 left in the first half.
. . . Through the first 12-plus minutes of the game, BC turned six UMass turnovers into nine points. Coach Travis Ford had expressed concern over his team’s turnover problems during the week (as well as his club’s free throw shooting ability).
AMHERST, Mass. - The early pace is favoring UMass who likes the up-tempo style. BC likes the half court set better, and, in the early going, is using their interior people with more efficiency to take the 18-13 lead with 11:35 left in the first half. Both teams appear determined to get it inside the paint.
AMHERST, Mass. - Tip is just a few minutes away and the Mullins Center is buzzing a bit as many of the 17,000 fans who witnessed a last second defensive stand by UMass football for a 24-17 win over UNH, have been able to beat the traffic over to the 9,493 capacity on-campus arena.
The day is being billed by the outstanding UMass SID, Jason Yellin, as “Super Saturday” in his comprehensive game notes package.
. . . Senior Associate Athletic Director, Thorr Bjorn, worked the student section, pressing the flash and even getting a full-band wave form the UMass pep band. Bjorn, an ex-Minuteman football player has the body and name of a fierce warrior, but the heart of a teddy bear. (The preceding paragraph is good for two beers, minimum, post-game.)
AMHERST, Mass. - Hang Time was able to visit briefly with the Mullins Center official scorer, Howie Davis. (We actually had title of Official Scorer for several games in this building and often was forced to wear a sleeveless, ladies size medium, referee’s vest at the Scorer’s Table (for identification purposes, they say). We are still scarred from that experience, by the way, and have been considering suing the State of Massachusetts for un-due duress on formerly sane-minded individual.
Anyway, Davis, the former UMass Sports Information Director reports that this will be a great test for UMass to determine whether or not they are “ready for prime time.”
AMHERST, Mass. - We’re about an hour from tip and many of the good folks who were enjoying UMass football’s 24-17 win over UNH in the Division I-AA quarterfinals at nearby Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium are filtering into the Mullins Center.
At about 6:00, Boston Colleges players began shooting around on the Mullins’ parquet and so too did the Minutemen. UMass stopped about half an hour later, BC continued on.
AMHERST, Mass. - A few ground rules are in order for this particular evening of live-blogging from the UMass-Boston College intra-state battle (LIVE on CSTV at 7:30 P.M. EST).
I am both a Massachusetts native (grew up 30 minutes north of Boston) and a University of Massachusetts graduate (1993 plus/minus). During my years at UMass as an undergrad and a few months of post-graduate employ, I was an assistant in the school’s sports information office. I left the two years before John Calipari and Marcus Camby took the Minutemen to the Final Four and I haven’t been back inside this building - The Mullins Center - in about a decade. I used to park in the building’s back lot EVERY day.
So, needless to say, there’s a history here for me. In addition to giving me a degree (thanks, in large part to the honorable Ralph Whitehead, Jr.), the once proud ZooMass gave me an identity. A decade and a half later, I actually still write the same column that I did for the student paper, The Daily Collegian for about the same number of readers and at about the same maturity level.
I grew up here to some degree - probably devolved a good bit, too. So there are some serious emotions rolling around as we chronicle this battle for Mass. Bragging rights.
KINGSTON, R.I. - Rhode Island began to assert itself in the final eight minutes of thehalf and with the help of some inspired bench play (12 points), lead 39-24 at the half.
The Rams went on a 13-2 run after the media timeout at 7:07, to extend to a 31-22 lead. A put back dunk by Joe Mbang led to a Jeff Ruland timeout just under four minutes, to stem the tide, but some dismal Gaels shooting added salt to the wound. Rhody wound up shooting .609 (14-for-23) in the first half; Iona shot .344 (11-for-32).
Will Daniels leads all scorers with 14 points and Rodriguez has six to pace the Gaels.
KINGSTON, RI - Both teams have shot well in the early going with Rhody hitting at a 50 percent clip and Iona going for 45 percent. The game is tied at 20-20 with 7:07 left in the half.
The Gaels have played inspired ball in the first 20 minutes with both De’Shaune Griffin and Mike Harris picking up the slack for injured teammate, Kyle Camper (foot injury Monday in practice, out indefinitely).
Rhode Island has found some early success trapping the Gaels at half court after made baskets, trying to take advantage of the loss of Camper. They should probably do more of it.
KINGSTON, R.I. - We're a few minutes from tip and the Ryan Center is slowly filling up.
Just to give some perspective on what the Gaels are facing (besides Rhode Island, a team that likes to run and gun), take a lot at this number: 5,040.
That's the number of career points the Gaels lost to graduation with the departure of Steve Burtt, Ricky Soliver, Marvin McCollough and Kiril Wachsmann. Now you know what they mean when they call this team the Young Gaels.
With the Camper foot injury (which we're hearing will require surgery), it appears the Gaels will start four freshmen with Mike Harris, DeShaune Griffin, Milan Prodanovic and Alejo Rodriguez
Newport, RI - Hang Time joined the winless Iona Gaels for a portion of the team’s pre-game meal at the Newport Marriott, four hours before tonight’s 7 p.m. tipoff against the Univeristy of Rhode Island.
Head Coach Jeff Ruland gave us a few minutes of time after his afternoon nap and the old “don’t wake a sleeping bear” thing came immediately to mind.
Ruland, now in his ninth season (137-110) as the head coach of the Gaels has seen rough stretches before and his NBA pedigree dictates that the lows never get too low and the highs never get too high.
Still, an 0-3 start in the midst of a challenging non-conference slate can lead to some dismal moments. Adding to Ruland’s woes is that junior college transfer and team captain, Kyle Camper, suffered a foot injury at the tail end of practice on Monday afternoon. He is likely out for an extended period of time.
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. - Back in the day, before email, text messaging and instant messaging, the co-captain of a team that found itself in a funk might call a team meeting. Usually it would be "Players Only" and most of the time it would unfold like the Costanza’s “Airing of the Grievances” during Festivus (on the Seinfeld show). Go around the room, speak your peace and move on. (Wrestling between father and son is strictly optional.)
The hope is to clean the slate and build team unity.
That is exactly the kind of meeting that BC senior co-captain, Jared Dudley called for after the Eagles fell in lackluster fashion to Providence, 73-64, on Wednesday night. The loss dropped the Eagles to 1-2 and put a certain amount of panic in the streets near Chestnut Hill’s Conte Forum, as the Runnin‘ Rams of Rhode Island visited for a Saturday afternoon tilt.
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. - Today's romp over Rhody, 86-68, should serve as a good springboard for BC as it enters a meaty portion of it schedule. After Wednesday night's showdown with Michigan State (7 p.m., ESPN and live-blogged here at CSTV.com), the Eagles visit rising UMass next Saturday, then face Fairfield at home on Dec. 6 (a homecoming for former Skinner assistant, Ed Cooley), Maryland at home on the 10th, Sacred Heart on the 17th and then at Kansas on CBS, Saturday the 23rd.
That slate includes four games that, if won, will put BC right back in the Top 25, likely even in the Top 15, prior to the heart of the ACC schedule.
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. - The Rams were decidedly spunkless coming out of the locker room to start the second half. A runway clapping circle was awfully quiet - more golf clap than motivational - and the Rams seems a bit despondent to open the second twenty.
BC's Sean Williams started out with a big boy block in the first minute of this half as well. Talk about setting a tone. Williams was credited with three blocks, two steals, an assist and four rebounds. He then blocked another one just under the 18:00 minute mark.
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. - BC senior guard, Sean Marshall, has been BC's go-to guy in the first half, notching 18 points. His career high is 23 (at St. John's in 2004). BC leads 47-30 at the half and seems to have bounced back fully from the pitiful performance at Providence.
Marshall has done it from the outside and on the offensive glass as well, leading all scorers. Tyrese Rice has nine for BC and Jared Dudley has six. No one has more than eight points for Rhody (Will Daniels).
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. - BC has built its lead in the second half of the first 20 minutes and holds a 32-25 lead with 3:52 left. The Eagles are shooting 50 percent from the field and have been aided by the three-ball.
Sean WIlliams has been active on both sides of the court, but is again dominating on the defensive end.
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. - BC coach Al Skinner was disappointed in his teams un-aggressiveness on Wendesday night, but the Eagles seem to have mostly overcome that tryptophan-like state. With under eight minutes left in the first half, the Eagles hold a one point lead, 24-23.
BC is still struggling to find a flow on offense, as evidenced by a possession at the 8:00 minute mark, where the shot clock wound down all the way down forcing a long, shot clock beating three from Sean Marshall. It clanged harmlessly off the front rim.
Point guard Tyrese Rice has started with three staright 3-pointers for the Eagles and forced Jim Braon into a time out at the 11:49 mark. The message of that huddle: "Guard No. 4."
. . . Sean Williams had another monster rejection, which he kept in bounds and which a few on press row were claiming was goal-tending. Williams, on Wednesday night, discussed his appreciation of Bill Russell and the fact that a friend of his had made a highlight DVD of Russell that Williams watched frequently during the summer. Like Russell, Williams is shwoing a knack for not only getting the blocks, but keeping them in play, which can often leaqd to fast-break opportunities for the Eagles.
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. - Our pre-game technical difficulties seem to have been alleviated and we're back in blogging business. Thanks for your patience.
Conte Forum, which holds 8,606, is about half-filled at this point with a traditionally late-arriving crowd. (It also happens to be a perfect Fall day in New England, whihc could keep a few folks away on this Holiday weekend.)
. . . The Rams have been off since a Nov. 19 win over Centenary at the Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska. BC last played on Wednesday night in its disappointing loss at Providence.
No one was more surprised when it came to Massachusetts’ second-place standing in the preseason poll than second-year coach Travis Ford.
“It’s weird being ranked second for a team that hasn’t done anything to back that up yet,” Ford said. “There are going to be four or five players that play significant minutes that have never put on a UMass uniform before.”
Among the four transfer players Ford welcomes into the fold are Virginia expat Gary Forbes and one-time Syracuse signee Tiki Mayben, who was named to the preseason All-Rookie team.
George Washington loses four starters from a team that went undefeated in the conference before bowing to Temple in the A-10 tournament then Duke in the second round of the NCAAs.
Gone are all-league performers Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Mike Hall, Alex Kireev, Danilo Pinnock and Omar Williams -- a collection of veterans who accounted for close to two-thirds of the team’s scoring during last year’s headline-grabbing campaign.
So how did the Colonials finish fifth in the preseason poll in spite of such considerable losses?
“I like to think of it as respect,” sixth-year coach Karl Hobbs said. “Based on what everyone else has coming back -- if you base it just on paper -- we probably should be picked to finish eighth or ninth. I think it’s just more out of respect.”
The ever-vigilant fan base on Hawk Hill is up in arms about Saint Joseph’s eighth-place standing in the preseason poll. But with six new players joining Martelli’s youngest-ever group, the ranking is somewhat understandable.
Martelli’s solution in the early going has been to overcoach with an almost-fanatical attention to detail.
“Everything that we do has been coached. We had a practice for practice, because I have two new coaches, too,” Martelli said. “So when I say, ’This is the way that we’re going to guard,’ I had to take them on the court and show them. During the last week of our individual instruction, we used that time to practice practice.
“We probably have 65 different drills that we could use at any point during a practice and it’s all skill work, but we call it different names. So we might call something 'UCLA,' we might call something else 'UConn,' we might call something else 'Carolina,' we might call something 'Dayton.' I had to let the coaches know, ‘OK, this is where you go.’ Because the thing that I can’t handle in practice is standing around -- it just drives me crazy. So everything that we do in practice is timed, everything is paced, and we pack a lot into two hours and 20 minutes -- but none of it includes everybody standing around while I say, ‘You go to that end, you go to this end, you go to that end.’"
In a quiet and unassuming manner, Xavier has made a pretty convincing case for Team of the Decade in the Atlantic 10, having won three conference championships since the turn of the millennium (in 2002, 2004 and 2006). Twice, the Musketeers have won four games in four days to take the league’s automatic bid -- becoming the only school in the history of the NCAAs to turn that near-impossible trick on two separate occasions.
This season, Xavier won’t be sneaking up on anyone. As the overwhelming favorite to repeat as league champs, the Musketeers are expected to hang another banner in the Cintas Center rafters. But third-year coach Sean Miller is mindful not to let the hype get to the heads of his players.
“It’s a good feeling,” Miller admitted. “But I think it’s a feeling that can leave us very fast.”
With the playing status of key holdovers Mark Tyndale and Wayne Marshall in question -- each having been declared academically ineligible for the first semester -- Temple was tabbed for ninth in the league's preseason poll, an unusual position for the Atlantic 10's longtime standard-bearer.
In preparation for his first season with the Owls, incoming coach Fran Dunphy -- the first person to man the sidelines at two different Big 5 schools -- hasn't maintained Hall of Fame coach John Chaney's insane early-morning practice schedule. But that doesn't mean Dunph has completely eschewed the unorthodox. The 57-year-old coach had his players participate in yoga classes during the early weeks of practice, even joining in the sessions with his charges.
“They would lift three days a week and they did yoga two days a week. I tried to do it with them -- not at quite the same flexibility level as some of our guys,” Dunphy said. “It was fun. I don’t think they loved it by any stretch, but I think they understood the quality of work that can come out of it -- whether it’s better breathing, better flexibility, more balance, more discipline, more focus.”
Perhaps my guiltiest pleasure this side of Madonna’s Confessions on a Dance Floor album is my lifelong affinity for Atlantic City -- which, for whatever quirks it may have, is one of my three or four favorite towns in the United States. So I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend my Tuesday morning than paying a rare autumn visit to America's Playground and attending Atlantic 10 media day at Boardwalk Hall, where the conference will hold its 2007 and 2008 postseason tournaments.
With the Rolling Stones prepping the arena proper for their concert Friday night, the media event was held in an adjacent practice gym. (Commissioner Linda Bruno quipped that Mick Jagger sent his apologies for not attending in her opening remarks.) Though I’ve never seen an actual basketball game played at Boardwalk Hall, I can’t imagine a more beautiful room for a sporting event from a purely aesthetic standpoint. As the last major structure remaining from the city’s heyday as a seaside resort, Boardwalk Hall was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987. Ornate columns and a lavish, barrel-vaulted ceiling give the room a unique and museum-like feel and will make for a unique hoop experience -- starting with the Atlantic City Lenape Trail Classic game between Temple and Cincinnati on Dec. 9 and culminating in March with the A-10 tournament, back on the east coast following a four-year jaunt in Ohio.