If you're Keno Davis, it's certainly come much quicker than you might have expected.
Just one season after leading Drake to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1971, a school-record 28-5 record and its first national ranking in 33 years, the 2008 AP Coach of the Year is headed to the Big East to take over Providence for Tim Welsh, who was fired last month after failing to take the Friars to more than two NCAA Tournament appearances in 10 seasons.
PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- It's ironic how a team can sometimes play even better without one of its leading scorers.
For No. 15 UConn, that's happened to be the case since Jerome Dyson was suspended at the end of January for a failed drug test following a charge for possession of alcohol as a minor.
Yet the Huskies didn't waver with their second-leading scorer gone, and in fact, showed that they had enough maturity and firepower to knock off some of the premiere programs in the country, including Big Ten power Indiana in Bloomington, Ind., ACC foe Georgia Tech in Storrs, Conn., and Big East staples Louisville, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Marquette.
On Tuesday night, Rutgers couldn't be compared to one of those Big East contenders, but UConn still did its part in rolling by the Scarlet Knights with a 79-61 victory in front of 5,833 at the RAC.
Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin has surprised plenty of people this season with quality conference wins over Louisville, Syracuse, Villanova, Pittsburgh and West Virginia, but the second-year coach now will have to do it without Alvin Mitchell.
The freshman forward, who has started just one game and appeared in 21 others, was suspended on Friday for violating team rules with the potential to return if his behavior improves before the end of the season.
NEWARK, N.J. -- Tom Crean understood the scenario better than anyone.
Lose a third straight game and the road to March starts to get much slipperier.
So with Marquette coming off two disappointing losses to Louisville at home and Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., last week and falling outside of the AP Top 25 poll for the first time this season, the Golden Eagles couldn't afford to take a third straight loss with No. 22 Pittsburgh coming to Milwaukee Friday for another Big East brawl.
On Tuesday night, sophomore forward Lazar Hayward made sure of that, rising to the occasion with 23 points, nine rebounds and two steals in Marquette's 89-64 bounce-back victory over Seton Hall at The Prudential Center.
HARTFORD, Conn. -- The two big injuries that hit Pittsburgh in late December may be catching up to them.
At first, the Panthers kept on winning, as they came out on top in four of their first five games after Levance Fields was lost to a broken foot injury, a week after Mike Cook was lost for the season with a torn ACL. Included was a win over Georgetown, although it was at home, while a road loss to Villanova in that stretch might be understandable.
But since then, the Panthers have alternated wins and losses beginning with a loss at better-than-advertised Cincinnati. That theme continued in the Panthers' 60-53 loss to Connecticut at the XL Center in Hartford on Saturday, a game where the Panthers had an edge at various points but couldn't get anything going in the final minutes.
Jim Calhoun will get at least one of his two suspended players back for Saturday's showdown against No. 18 Pittsburgh at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn.
Reserve guard Doug Wiggins was reinstated by the UConn coach Friday, but starter and the Huskies' second-leading scorer Jerome Dyson will remain suspended indefinitely until further word from the school's department of athletics.
Every week we get the pleasure here at CSTV.com of examining and debating the new set of rankings that come out every Monday, and while I haven't discussed the previous polls much this season, this week's AP Top 25 is arguably missing one team that's deserving of a ranking.
So after UConn's impressive win at Indiana this past Saturday, we now know a little bit more about the suspensions to guards Jerome Dyson and Doug Wiggins, who did not make the trip to Bloomington with the team over the weekend.
According to a report by the Hartford Courant, the two sophomores were found in possession of alcohol, specifically a bottle of vodka and cognac, when police stopped and searched their vehicle last Thursday night in Storrs.
Both were issued summonses for minors in possession, and Wiggins was also was cited for driving with a suspended license.
Neither of them will play in tonight's Big East contest against Louisville at the XL Center and will remain suspended indefinitely until UConn's department of athletics gives further word.
If Jim Calhoun was hoping to leave Bloomington, Ind., this weekend with a win that the NCAA Tournament selection committee could ultimately look back on in March, he'll need a lot more help than he was originally expecting.
That's because the 35-year UConn coach announced Friday that starting guard Jerome Dyson and backup guard Doug Wiggins have been indefinitely suspended for violating unspecified team rules.
MEMPHIS -- John Calipari is becoming fond of telling his charges to "play with amnesia," to forget prior plays - good or bad - and to focus on the next opportunity. For junior guard Chris Douglas-Roberts, Calipari had to induce the amnesia earlier this week with a grueling individual workout.
"It was a workout I did with my NBA guys," said Calipari after Memphis's convincing 85-71 win over No. 5 Georgetown before a frenzied FedEx Forum crowd of 18,864. "I used to do it with Kerry Kittles, Lucious Harris, Kendall Gill - a lot of guys. I did it for 30 minutes with CDR (on Thursday before practice) and he whined like he was exhausted. There was sounds coming out of him and I didn't know if they were female or male sounds."
"It was," said Douglas-Roberts, "the hardest drills I've done in my life. He didn't give me any slack. He just cared about me going hard. Coach really thinks highly of me and I appreciate that. I needed it. I needed it."
MEMPHIS -- It will not be the big man matchup which unfolded almost a quarter of a century ago when Patrick Ewing's Georgetown Hoyas faced Keith Lee's Memphis Tigers in the second round of the 1983 NCAA Tournament. But very few big men -- and none in today's game -- could possibly live up to that epic duel where Lee went for 28 points and 15 rebounds in the 66-57 win over Ewing, who had 24 and nine.
Still, there is intrigue and import in the Internet Age's version of Georgetown (8-0) vs. Memphis (9-0) as All-American 7-foot-2 Hoya Roy Hibbert matches up with the reigning Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year, Tiger Joey Dorsey for Saturday's battle of Top 5 teams at the FedEx Forum.
"It's going to be great to see Roy," said Baltimore-native Dorsey, who got to know the Hoya center when both played for Team USA in this past summer's Pan American Games in Brazil. "We're texting each other all the time. I'm watching his games, he's watching mine. We just clicked. We became really close because we had so much time to spend together. "
NEW YORK -- Jamie Dixon didn't know whether to be happy or sad.
On the one hand, his team had just overcome a 12-point halftime deficit to beat the No. 6 team in the country.
And on the other, the Pittsburgh coach quite possibly saw his senior forward Mike Cook play his final game as a Panther after suffering what looked to be a torn ACL in his left knee.
But in the end, it was junior point guard Levance Fields who came to the rescue for No. 11 Pitt, stunning an unbeaten Duke team with a step-back three-pointer with five seconds remaining in overtime to propel the Panthers to a 65-64 victory in the Aeropostale Classic at Madison Square Garden.
This week's Top 25 just got released earlier today, and while it may be a surprise to some to see Saint Mary's holding down the No. 24 spot, it's the first time that the Gaels have cracked the field since the 1988-89 season.
But the Moraga, Calif., school has certainly been worthy of the national pub, as the Gaels have run out to a 7-0 start after securing a big 99-87 victory over Oregon on Nov. 20, a 85-70 decision over Seton Hall on Dec. 1 and another quality win over San Diego State last Saturday in Anaheim at the Wooden Classic.
So with Gonzaga sitting at No. 19 and Saint Mary's coming in at No. 24, it's the first time two teams in the West Coast Conference are ranked since the beginning of the 1973-74 season. At that time, it was San Francisco and former conference member UNLV who dominated the league, as the Dons came into the season at No. 11 while the Rebels followed at No. 19.
When I first started looking at schedules for the 2007-08 college basketball season, one of the games that intrigued me for one reason or another was Villanova's Thursday night meeting with LSU at the Wachovia Center.
The game was part of the Big East/SEC Invitational that began this year to rival the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and the inaugural Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series that just finished up last week with No. 4 Texas' win over UCLA in Westwood, a game that yours truly was fortunate to take in from press row.
But if the Big East/SEC Invitational was looking for a game to hang its hat on, it was Thursday night's contest between the Tigers and Wildcats.
After all, LSU led by as many as 21 points with eight minutes remaining before blowing the lead and allowing the 25th-ranked Wildcats to steal a 68-67 victory at the Wachovia Center.
And to top it all off, Villanova didn't lead until its final possession, one that saw Dante Cunningham hit the boards and put back a Malcolm Grant shot from the right side of the floor with 5.4 ticks left on the clock.
NEW YORK -- Notre Dame used a very effective inside-outside game to defeat Kansas State, 68-59, in the opener of the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden.
Luke Harangody softened up the inside of the Wildcats' defense in the first half. He torched KSU for 15 points and 10 boards, including 11 of the first 13 the Fighting Irish scored. Kansas State tried different guys on him, but the task was mostly left to superstar freshman Michael Beasley. He wasn't up to the physical challenge the 6-foot-8, 250-pound Harangody brought in the first half and allowed him to finish with 19 points and a career-high 14 rebounds.
He's seen this scenario before, and he's been dealing with it for most of his career.
Because if there's one thing Matta has come to do best in becoming a head coach, it's been his ability to rebuild teams in a hurry.
After all, he's been doing it ever since he took over for Barry Collier at then-mid-major Butler seven years ago, when he led the Bulldogs to 24 wins and an appearance in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
NEW YORK -- This was the kind of game that John Calipari wanted.
This was the kind of competition that No. 3 Memphis needed.
And after 40 minutes of hard-fought, chest-to-chest basketball, it was the kind of result that the Tigers and their head coach was ultimately looking for.
"These are the kind of games we schedule that we want to play," Calipari said after Memphis took the championship crown in the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer with an 81-70 victory over UConn. "We don't want to play 'Popcorn State.' It does nothing for us."
Good ole' Jim Calhoun. Yep, that savvy UConn coach.
That is, savvy enough to realize that having Holy Cross in the first two rounds of the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic would have been a mistake.
After all, he wouldn't want to embarrass himself against a school from the Patriot League, right?
So when the Gazelle Group first called Calhoun and presented him with the four-team field that would make up the Storrs Regional, he quickly dismissed Holy Cross as one of the potential teams scheduled to play at the Huskies' Harry A. Gampel Pavilion.
So much for Billy Gillispie getting that honeymoon vacation in the Big Apple next week.
The former Texas A&M coach, instead, will be watching Gardner-Webb play under the lights of the world famous Madison Square Garden next Thursday after shocking No. 20 Kentucky Wednesday night at Rupp Arena with a 84-68 upset in the second round of the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic.
And after taking the Aggies to the NCAA Tournament the past two seasons, Gillispie certainly didn't want to start his tenure in Lexington this way.
But for the last five minutes of the game and following the sound of the final horn, it was a constant stream of boos for the Wildcats, who never found a rhythm against the Runnin' Bulldogs after falling behind by double digits at halftime with the scoreboard reading 38-27.
"A lot of people will think this is a misprint, but I hope not," Gardner-Webb coach Rick Scruggs said. "I hope they get to see it and can enjoy it. It's going to take a few days to settle in."
Gardner-Webb, after all, finished last season at just 9-21 overall while tying for seventh place in the Atlantic Sun Conference -- not exactly the kind of resume that would hint at a potential upset over a traditional blue blood like Kentucky in the first week of the season.
The Big East today announced that the league's tournaments (both men and women) will be expanded for the 2009 season to include all 16 teams. As it is currently structured, only the Top 12 schools are eligible for the respective tournaments.
The exclusion of the bottom-feeders was a hot topic of discussion every post-season and the move will eliminate the debate. It's always been unjust in our eyes, to leave four teams at home and not give any of them that chance at catching lightning in a bottle. Is the potential there to "steal" a bid from your own league? Of course, but that's what March Madness is all about. If you're fearing the No. 14, 15 or 16 team in your league, you've got more issues than whether you're in the NCAA Tournament or not.
STORRS, Conn. -- In what I'm hoping will be a recurring Hang Time feature, it's an honor to bring you the first installment of our 2007-08 "Practice Reports."
Because of the relative proximity to my Massachusetts home and because Jim Calhoun never disappoints with providing good storylines (and stories), we started off with a Tuesday afternoon visit to the 14th preseason basketball practice of the UConn Huskies. It ran from 1:30 until 4:30 on the floor of Gampel Pavilion on the school's leafy, classic Fall-in-New-England campus.
After the JUMP we start off with an overview of what we took out of the 75 minutes of the session we were able to witness, and finish off with some random notes, quotes from players Jeff Adrien and A.J. Price, and of course, some of the classic Calhoun himself.
NEW YORK -- The Big East has released its preseason coaches' poll for the 2007-08 season and Georgetown and Louisville -- to no one's surprise -- are sharing the role as conference favorite.
The Hoyas and Cardinals each received eight first-place votes, while the coaches were not allowed to vote for their respective teams.
Marquette followed in third in the balloting after earning trips to the NCAA Tournament in its first two seasons in the Big East, and Pittsburgh, despite losing First Team All-Big East center Aaron Gray, has been tabbed to finish for fourth.
NEW YORK -- When Jay Wright talks about the upcoming 2007-08 and the potential that he sees at Villanova this season, a smile quickly lights up on his face.
Despite losing three critical contributors from last year in Curtis Sumpter, Mike Nardi and Will Sheridan, the former Hofstra coach likes what he has this season, and he made that known at Big East Media Day with a crowd of reporters standing in his presence.
That, in large part, might be due to the fact that he does have sophomore combo guard Scottie Reynolds returning to campus this fall after a sensational freshman year.
NEW YORK -- After three straight trips to the NIT, Notre Dame found itself back in the NCAA Tournament with an 11-5 conference record and a fourth-place finish last season.
But after falling to Big South champ Winthrop -- the No. 11 seed out of the Midwest Regional -- in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the Fighting Irish return in 2007-08 not nearly the same team as they were a year ago with forward Rusell Carter and guard Colin Falls taking charge in South Bend.
Notre Dame coach Mike Brey, nevertheless, doesn't see that as too much of a concern for this year's squad.
NEW YORK -- Another soft-spoken character, legendary Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, faced a good crowd of reporters all throughout the day's event and of course was asked mutliple times about last year's NCAA Tournament snub.
But what happened last year is done with and over, and all the Orangemen can do now is look forward to the 2007-08 with five new faces, including highly-regarded recruits Donte' Green, Jonny Flynn and Antonio "Scoop" Jardine.
"A lot of the guys on this year's team didn't experience what happened last year," junior guard Eric Devendorf said. "We got a lot of new faces, and it's a new season and a new start. I think that's what everyone's looking forward to."
The West Virginia head coach, who left Kansas State last April after guiding the Wildcats to 23 wins in his only year in Manhattan, Kan., has started to settle in at his alma mater in Morgantown, W. Va., and plenty of reporters were certainly interested in hearing about Huggins' thoughts on joining the Big East.
NEW YORK -- With all the distinct personalities sitting around this room, John Thompson III's certainly isn't one that sticks out among the rest.
The fourth-year Georgetown coach, rather, has a soft-spoken nature to him, talking in almost a whisper to reporters surrounding his booth. So much so, I found myself fighting for position among the herd of media before nestling my way up to the front of the table.
And even though the Hoyas are in most people's minds the favorites to win the Big East with center Roy Hibbert returning for his senior season, Thompson has his players disregarding much of the preseason hype surrounding them.
NEW YORK -- Big East Media Day has gotten underway here at the Theatre Lobby inside Madison Square Garden and the players and coaches of each team have been speaking for the last hour to the media.
Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese addressed the media to open up the event and touched upon a few points but specifically focused on the strength of the conference this year and the unfortunate NCAA Tournament snub that Syracuse endured last year even after winning 24 games overall and going 10-6 in the conference.
WASHINGTON -- To conclude the evening, the men's team did the weave drill, finishing things off on each end with a dunk. Midnight Madness seemed shorter this year than the past two, but it also seemed significantly better.
WASHINGTON -- Men just went through layup lines, which was basically a glorified dunk contest. A year ago at Midnight Madness, with his dad in the gym, Patrick Ewing Jr. tried some amazing dunks but ended up missing several of them. He certainly made up for it this year.
WASHINGTON -- J.T. III has called upon the seniors on the men's and women's team to lead the crowd in the "We Are Georgetown" cheer, but they aren't doing so hot. Can't quite get that solid pause between "We Are" and "Georgetown" that Thompson so desire.
Thompson says, "If Jon Wallace can't get this right, it's going to be a long year."
WASHINGTON -- Georgetown's four seniors just pulled the curtain off the 2007 Final Four banner, which according to Thompson is everyone's last chance to talk about last year. Looks nice up there with the '84 title and the '82 and '85 Final Four reminders.
Now it's about getting to the 2008 Final Four. The seniors lead the crowd in a booming rendition of "Let's Go Hoyas."
WASHINGTON -- I've never heard McDonough Gymnasium so loud.
Now the entire gym is chanting Jeff Green's mom as she unveils his jersey on the ball wall of McDonough. No. 22, just like best friend Tyler Crawford and his former coach, John Thompson III. Jeff's dad is in on the act too, but his mom is the star of the show. She is crying, I think. Her son's jersey now hangs with some pretty impressive names, like Ewing, Mourning, Mutombo and Iverson.
And now a Jeff Green's dad cheer. I don't think a school could love a player more than Georgetown does Jeff.
WASHINGTON -- The women's team is currently being introduced one-by-one, with each player getting a louder round of applause than the last. I'm up in the rafters, away from the rest of the students, and it is incredibly loud.
WASHINGTON -- Her son may be 3,000 miles away, but Jeff Green's mom is right at home.
Though she traded in No. 32 in Hoyas' blue and gray for No. 22 in Sonics' white, green, and gold, Jeff Green's mom, Felicia Akingube, is in attendance and received an even bigger ovation than Jerry Rice did. Something tells me the "Jeff Green's Mom" cheers will be back for their senior season, even if the man himself is not.
WASHINGTON -- As Groove Theory was about to begin its performance, the best wide receiver to ever have a daughter attend Georgetown made his second Midnight Madness appearance in three years.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Jerry Rice is in the house to see daughter Jacqui perform. Groove Theory, probably Georgetown's most well-liked dance group, turned in a pretty awesome performance, and Jerry looks as cool as he always has.
WASHINGTON -- A student shooting contest is underway, two-on-two, with seniors vs. freshmen and sophomores vs. juniors in the first round. One team on each end of the court. Early results were unimpressive, but the finals got pretty good.
WASHINGTON -- As I mentioned earlier, over 2,000 Georgetown students waited in line for tickets to tonight's event. After the lucky bunch received there passes, they were admitted to the McDonough parking lot to watch a replay of last year's UNC game, play video games, and get a coveted burger from the Georgetown University Grilling Society.
WASHINGTON -- Want further proof of just how far Georgetown has come since John Thompson III came aboard three years ago? Approximately 2,000 students have been lined up for almost two hours now, waiting to get a chance to witness the Hoyas' 2007 Midnight Madness.
Word got out yesterday from the Associated Press that Louisville point guard Edgar Sosa will be out for a maximum of four weeks after spraining his ankle on Monday.
The New York City native, who finished second on the team in scoring last season at 11.4 points per game, injured the ankle when he came down on another player's foot and rolled it during a pickup game.
Months after getting what many thought was a major snub from the NCAA Tournament selection committee, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim is losing out again.
This time, however, it's with his three-point sniper Andy Rautins, who will miss the entire 2007-08 season after tearing his ACL in his right knee and spraining his MCL in the other while playing for Canada at the FIBA Americas Championship in Las Vegas this summer.
The game is in the books. The Hoyas won 65-42. The 42 points by Pitt shatters the record for the fewest in a Big East championship game. The previous record was 54 by Georgetown in 1992 and Villanova in 1982. The record for the fewest points in a tournament game in any round is 40, so Pitt just missed that one.
The trophy has been given out. The all tournament team matched my ballot except that DaJuan Summers of Georgetown made it instead of Dan Fitzgerald of Marquette.
I haven't heard Sinatra yet, but it's time to go shred my brackets again, so I'll beat the Christmas rush and get out of here. Be sure to catch our bracket projection and breakdown shows on CSTV tomorrow at 5:30 and 7:00 PM ET.
Someone send out the missing persons crew. We're having trouble finding Aaron Gray. There's a 7-foot guy wearing his uniform out there that kind of resembles him, but he must be a stunt double, because he's mostly just taking up space. He's 1-13 from the floor and hasn't take a shot more than five feet from the basket all night. Roy Hibbert just took him to school on both ends of the floor all night long.
I think I now can say what I've been thinking all weekend - he's soft. Not his body - he's plenty big - he just isn't aggressive. He's getting dominated by Hibbert and it doesn't seem to bother him. He doesn't get mad. He doesn't get even. He doesn't do anything.
Now, he'll sit on the bench. It looks like his night is over. Pitt's night was over pretty much at the opening tip.
And with 1:28 to go, the crowd goes into a rousing chant of "Hoya Saxa!: I'm not sure what that means. I never took Latin.
At halftime, some guy comes down the aisle next to me and is looking around. He has no credential, so he's just some guy checking out the view. I'm working, so I don't notice that he's gone. A few minutes into the half, security is escorting him off of press row. Apparently, he just sat in an open chair and watched the game from courtside.
What tipped off security to this guy? His beer was sitting on the table in front of him. Funny thing is, the two real media guys sitting next to him apparently didn't notice him either. The security guy spotted him on his own.
The guy was ejected from the arena, but the security guy did let him finish his beer first. "I'm not all bad," the security guy says.
The lead is still 13 for Georgetown at the media timeout, and I was just reminded to think about my media ballot. The guy sitting next to me was giving John Paquette a hard time because he didn't get one. "What's this? Radio guys don't get a ballot?"
Paquette says, "You know me. I love print guys.'
I'm not sure I technically qualify as a print guy. After all, there is no ink being used. Nonetheless, I have had plenty of time to think about my ballot since the game hasn't been terribly exciting. So, without further ado:
Dave Gavitt trophy (MVP): Jeff Green - Georgetown
Roy Hibbert - Georgetown (the MVP of this game)
Antonio Graves - Pitt
Russell Carter - ND
Terrence Williams - Louisville
Dan Fitzgerald - Marquette
Yes, I know that's six players. I just do what they ask.
Meanwhile, Gray just scored inside and got something of a Bronx cheer from the Pitt faithful I suppose it's really a Manhattan cheer, since that's where we are.
Aaron Gray is out of the game for a while and poor Levon Kendall is trying to guard Roy Hibbert. It ain't working. He's posting him up an doing whatever he wants. Georgetown's up 13. with a minute left.
As I wrote that, Gray came back in and Hibbert sat down.
DaJuan Summers has scored the last five points in an 11-0 run as the Hoyas now lead 26-13 with 3:14 left. Jamie Dixon called two timeouts to try to settle his team down, but that hasn't helped. Maybe this longer media timeout will do the trick.
Georgetown is leading 12-8 at the second timeout. During the timeout, MSG presented the Big East with a nice, big framed picture montage covering 25 years of the tournament here. You may remember that last night, the Big East made a presentation to MSG (a sliver watch, or something like that - I forget and I'm too lazy to look it up), so I'm guessing the MSG folks had a meeting last night that went something like this:
Folk 1: "Wow, that was a nice whatever that thing was the Big East gave us, wasn't it."
Folk 2: "Very bad word! We didn't get them anything!"
Folk 1: "Maybe we can run out and get them a bottle of wine or something?"
Folk 3: "I have an idea! Let's cut out a bunch of pictures and make a collage and frame it. We can give it to them tomorrow! It'll look like we had it planned all along!"
Other Folks: "Great! Let's do it!"
Hoyas are getting easy buckets inside and lead 6-2. Gray is 0-3 from close in and a little frustrated. He also has a foul already
I just noticed that Tim Higgins isn't here. I thought he always did the Big East title game. I just checked with John Paquette, the Big East media relations dude (there's a chance it doesn't say that on his business card) and he couldn't remember off hand when the last time was he didn't work the title game. He volunteered to check old box scores for me, but I passed. It's not that important. We'll just rely on my feeble memory.
We have been welcomed again to the "World's Most Famous Arena", as they keep telling us, for the championship game of the Big East between Georgetown and Pitt.
If this really is the world's most famous arena, we should know that without being told. But, I digress.
We were just treated to the National Anthem sung by a very talented 12-year-old girl. When she finished, she turned to leave the court and was faced with a bunch of very tall guys shaking hands and had a hard time working her way through.
The lights were dimmed for the pregame ceremonies, so this must be an important game. The lineups have been annoucned and we're ready to go. I like Georgetown mostly because they are the only team that has really impressed me here. Others like Pitt, ND, Louisville, they're good, but not significantly better than the teams that battled for the MVC title last week. Georgetown is on a different level, and if they play their game, they'll win tonight.
Antonio Graves got a breakaway dunk with one second left to put the exclamation mark on the 65-59 win by Pitt. The Panthers now get a rubber match with Georgetown in the final tomorrow night. The teams split in the regular season.
Graves had 23 points, but more importantly, he hit every big shot for Pitt tonight. Gray wasn't much of a factor because of foul trouble. They'll need him tomorrow against the big and athletic Hoya front line.
The Pitt fans are chanting "We want Georgetown!" Good thing they didn't want Notre Dame. They should probably be careful what they wish for.
But that's a problem for another day. Time to go home and set fire to my brackets. You don't suppose the folks in the hotel would care if I did that, do you?
With the lead down to one and five and a half minutes left, Aaron Gray came back into the game. Right away, he got busy inside, getting fouled twice. Unfortunately, he missed both front ends. Louisville has been turning it over and missing shots, so the lead is still one at the final media timeout.
Rick Pitino has just called his second timeout of the half and we're just over five minutes in. That means he's had three chances (counting the media timeout) to talk some sense into his team, but that's not working. The run is 19-2 and his face is a few shades darker than his hot pink tie.
Graves hit another three and Mike Cook added five points to extend the Panther run to start this half to 17-2. Pitt is now up 43-39 at the first media timeout.
The Pitt cheerleaders come out at the break and teach us how to spell "PITT". They raise their arms as they do this, of course, and my first thought is, "Yes, that's your Pitt", but then it dawned on me that probably meant something else.
Back to back threes by Andre McGee and Terrence Williams in the last 45 seconds have staked Louisville to an 11 points halftime lead. Once David Padgett picked up his second foul, the pace of the game picked up. I was getting ready to write about how Pitt had to feel good about the game being close with Gray missing almost the entire half, but it ended up not so close.
After Gray went out for Pitt, the Panthers were able to build a 6 point lead, but the Cardinals then went on a 16-5 run and now lead 23-18. David Padgett is starting to have his way inside and he has 8 points.
Now, the Big East presented a plaque to MSG commemorating the 25th year of this event. They mentioned that the Big East is the only conference to hold its tournament in one place for that time period.
Green dribbled into the lane and threw up a half hook, which hit off the back iron and bounced in and he was fouled.
He missed the free throw, but a three pointer by Russell Carter was a shade too long and the Hoyas advance to tomorrow's title game. Even with the double OT game yesterday, this was the most entertaining game of the tournament so far. The crowd was into it all the way, including proud papas Patrick Ewing and John Thompson.
Ewing had 15, 14 in the second half, but Green had 30 points and 12 boards. A monster night.
Georgetown's 7'2" center Roy Hibbert has just fouled out for holding off Luke Harangody on a rebound. Harangody (form my hometown of Schererville, IN) is just a freshman, but you can tell he's going to be a force in this league. He's not just big and strong, but he's got a good sense of how to use his body and he has soft hands and a good shooter's touch.
Harangody made 1-2, but the Irish got the rebound and Jackson got to the hole again to tie the game at 82 with 35.4 to go. There's about a 5 second difference between the short clock and the game clock as the Hoyas have the ball, looking for the win.
After the timeout, Rob Kurz is eyeing the free throw for Notre Dame and Ewing is talking trash to him. "You're not going to make it. You're not going to make it." Then, just as he cocks his arm to shoot, Ewing says, "It's off!"
He made it anyway, and then Ewing was subbed out.
I'm 90% sure that is not only illegal, it's a technical foul, but nothing was called, of course.
Tory Jackson does it again and again. He drove past Jon Wallace for another layup to tie the game, then got in there again and missed, but ND was fouled on the rebound and are going to the line after the timeout looking for the lead. We're tied at 76 with 2:54 to go.
Green and Ewing have added one more basket each to extend the Hoyas' lead to 7. Right before a foul was being called on Georgetown, ND called timeout. Since the timeout came first, there was no foul. Ref Reggie Greenwood, who was standing by us marking the spot where the ball would be thrown in, was asked by one of the reporters to clarify what happened.
While I wrote that, Tory Jackson of ND has gotten to the hole twice to cut the lead to 2.
The ND cheerleaders came out and the girls got up on the guys' (BIG guys) shoulders - the kind of thing you've seen hundreds of times before. Then they got down and set it up again, only this time, the Leprechaun was the bottom guy in the middle. The Leprechaun, you will not be surprised to hear, is a little guy. At least once, maybe twice, it looked like he would buckle under the strain and we would be left with a pile of humanity formerly known as the Notre Dame cheerleading squad. He ultimately held up, though, and I'm glad to report that no cheerleaders were harmed in the entertainment of the fans.
It was a late arriving crowd tonight (they probably couldn't get a cab), but now that they're here, they are excited by Georgetown's 14-4 run to get back into the game. With 52.7 seconds left, the Hoyas trail 44-42.
That's what Russell Carter was yelling after another Georgetown turnover. That came right after a sequence in which he followed a three pointer with a steal and another three in transition. The Hoyas are having a hard time finding and closing out on the Irish perimeter shooters.
Even Luke Zeller is having a good game. Zeller, who will be remembered in Indiana more for his half-court state championship winning shot in high school than anything he likely does at Notre Dame, already has five points, more than one above his average.
During this timeout, the Big East was presented with the Conference Cup or Championship Cup or Protective Cup - I can't remember the exact name - for having the best record in bowl games this year. It's a nice looking cup, but I don't think you can drink from it.
Yesterday, Georgetown was running roughshod over Villanova. Today, Notre Dame has been the aggressor in the early going against the Hoyas. The Irish have also executed better, hitting 4-7 from both two and three point range. They haven't afraid to inside on the Hoyas big front line either. The Irish are up 22-13 with 11:29 left.
Pitt advanced to face Louisville with a 89-79 victory over Marquette. Aaron Gray didn't shoot particularly well, but had a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Dan Fitzgerald put on another show tonight with 20 also. Too bad his team didn't get any farther. He could have had a shot at all-tournament.
It's now past midnight in the Big Apple, and they are playing that Frank Sinatra tune, which is apparently required by law when whatever is happening here comes to an end for the day. Some places, when you've overstayed your welcome, they flash the lights. Here, they play Sinatra. I'm sick of that song already, but I'm not a fan of it to begin with.
I guess that's my cue to exit. Semifinals tomorrow with all the top seeds.
Dominic James, who hardly ever shows emotion, had a few angry words with the ref after Mike Cook took him to the hole and scored. Seeing that was going nowhere, he came up the floor and drove inside and got a layup himself.
Pitt's up 12 at the last media timeout. They're cruising.
Just as I had written in my notes that I thought Gray was playing soft, he started to get aggressive. He's been crashing the glass and going up strong the last few times down. That's part of the reason Pitt is now up 6.
I'm sitting at the same table as the Pitt radio crew (fair warning to Pitt fans, the radio crew at my table hasn't won yet). The spotter for the broadcast is Methuselah (sic?), and he gets a little excited. You can hear him yelling about the plays and bad calls an all that, and apparently that gets out over the air pretty regularly.
He's a happy guy now. Pitt has a little run going and they're up 6 with just over a minute to go.
The ref has told Marquette's bench to sit twice in the last couple of minutes, and they can't. The guys near the end of the bench keep standing or kneeling. They're probably one more warning from getting a technical foul, which would really be dumb.
The game keeps going back and forth, and currently Pitt leads by 1.
Pitt got off to bad starts against Marquette in their two losses to them. The Panthers are off to a good start today though. They lead 9-7 at the first timeout, with Gray going to the line when we get back.
Pitt's offense though doesn't go through Gray often enough. Too often so far, they've had possessions where he doesn't get a touch. Gray has to touch the ball. Marquette can not guard him.
Dominic James missed his first two shots, including a three, so he's not untracked yet, but Dan Fitzgerald has an early 3.
Thanks to the Big East's starve the media policy (and the fact that I got here too late for dinner), I found my way to a concession stand for a bite to eat. The thing at the top of the menu was Hot Dog and Knish. I'm told knish is like a potato pancake. I'm on board for that. I have a lot of Germans in my wife's family, and potato pancakes are a favorite.
I also made the mistake of putting mustard on my hot dog, which invariably leaps off of the dog and onto my clothing. So if you're looking for me on TV, I'll be in a blue shirt with a big yellow spot on it. That doesn't mean I'm rooting for Marquette.
The Eagles take on Pitt, looking to beat them for a third time this season. With Marquette's lack of size, I'm surprised Aaron Gray hasn't just dominated this team. He has 34 points in two games, which is pretty good, but I would expect him to score at will.
We'll see if Dominic James can find his shot tonight. If not, it'll probably be a long night for Marquette.
Louisville finally pounded it inside and pounded West Virginia out of the Big East tournament, and perhaps the NCAA tournament as well. The Cards scored the first 9 points of OT and went on to win 82-71
Derrick Caracter was MIA for most of this game. He only played 7 minutes and scored one point. He didn't appear to be injured.
This was the only meeting of the season between these two teams. They didn't meet in the regular season. Do you want to know if your conference is too big? One sure way is that the teams can't all play each other in the regular season.
The teams had been going back and forth until a missed free throw by Louisville on the second of two was rebounded and turned into a layup by Padgett, giving the Cards a three point lead. They still have that cushion with 48 seconds left, but the Mountaineers have the ball.
The fans behind the Louisville basket are standing. Not the students (all students pretty much always stand), just the fans. And they aren't wearing much red, so they may not necessarily be Louisville fans.
Louisville's refusal to rush three point shots has them down 3 to West Virginia at the last timeout. Pretty soon, they will be in th enviable position of having to shoot them. Then, they'll be in trouble.
Louisville has a cheerleader doing some pretty incredible flips and twists across the floor.
Louisville finally scored on a Padgett layup to go back in front after giving up an 18-0 run. The Cards were way too often shooting threes early in the possession and not trying to go inside. This may sound like a broken record, but they're 3-15 from three point range. It ain't working. Pound it inside.
The halftime entertainment, as is always the case apparently, is one of the school dance teams. In this case, it's Louisville's, which is the largest I've seen in two weekends of conference tournaments. There must be 50 of them shaking their groove thing.
Syracuse has stepped up the pressure and now leads by 10
You know things are going your way when you get stripped down low going up for a layup and the ball just arcs up in the air and goes in. And you get a free throw to boot.
The ND Leprechaun goes out with the cheerleaders when they perform at the timeout, but his role in their performance appears to be to bounce around, clap his hands, occasionally yell "wooooooo!" and have red hair, while the rest of them do typical, cheerleader stuff. He's certainly good at all those things, but he's in the way.
Rampant stupidity by the Hoyas and a lot of fight in the Wildcats kept Villanova in this game surprisingly all the way to the end, but Georgetown held on for a 62-57 win. The Hoyas led by as much as 25 in the first half, but credit Nova for battling all the way to the end. At one point with just under a minute left and trailing by six, Villanova got a steal and Reynolds had an open look at a 3, but it just rattled out.
Sumpter hit a three at the horn for the final score.
After Nova made a run to start the half, things have settled down. Jonathan Wallace just hit a three to put GU up 14 again. With Hibbert out of the game, that possession was played entirely on the perimeter. Nobody for the Hoyas was in the paint or anywhere near it.
Villanova played its best four minutes of the half at the end, but still trail 37-18. The Hoyas held them to 6-22 from the floor, while shooting 16-27 themselves. The Hoyas subs may get a lot of time in the second half.
We got the halftime stat sheet and at least two things are wrong: Roy Hibbert has two blocks on the stat sheet and I remember at least three and Nova is listed with 4 turnovers, which seems like about half what it ought to be.
Nova has a balanced scoring "attack" led by Redding with 6. All five starters have scored today, so Reynolds and Sumpter are getting help. Now if they can do their part, maybe we can have a dramatic comeback.
I have to give Villanova credit - they're still fighting. It's 35-10, but they aren't throwing in the towel. Sumpter just made a flying-out-of-bounds save, so you know he hasn't quit.
Georgetown had made seven straight shots before Green missed a 3. On that possession, the Hoyas had 6'9" Vernon Macklin in the post being guarded by Nardi (who looks like he's trying to grow an Amish beard), but they didn't get the ball into him.
Then, Nova actually had a 3-0 run, if you can call that a run, on free throws.
After Curtis Sumpter stopped the bleeding for Nova with a long jumper to make it 14-2, Nova ran off six more and Jay Wright had seen enough. He apparently said something that Jim Burr, who was right in front of me, took offense to and he got T'd up. I couldn't hear what he said, so I don't really know why he got the T excpet for perhaps consistent berating off the refs. Wright's been pretty hot, as you might imagine in a 22-2 game.
After both teams started off cold, the Hoyas have heated up now. DaJuan Summers hit a 3 to get the rally started and the Hoyas now lead 7-0.
7'2" Roy HHibbert is slow getting up and down the floor, but effective when he gets there. He has a layup and two blocked shots early on. He actually made a nice spin move 15' away from the basket and dribbled in for the layup.
We're about 5 minutes from tipoff of Villanova-Georgetown, and we still have a sparse crowd. The only session where we had a good crowd was for Syracuse.
Georgetown is the top seed, which is both surprising and not. The Hoyas were highly ranked in the preseason because they returned most of last year's team that made a good run in the NCAAs. However, they got off to a so-so start, losing at home to Oregon and Old Dominion, so expectations lowered for conference play. Then they went out and won it.
Georgetown is coached by John Thompson and features Patrick Ewing. Oh, wait, that was 20 years ago. This team is coached by John Thompson III and Patrick Ewing, Jr, a transfer from Indiana, comes off the bench for the Hoyas.
Villanova already has its bid secured for the NCAA tournament. Yesterday, they were a two-man show with Sumpter and Reynolds. They'll probably have to get more help to win today. No word yet if Mike Nardi will play.
Marquette finished off St. John's 76-67. Dominic James was stone cold after that opening dunk. He finished 2-14 from the floor, 0-9 from three point range and scored only 9 points. Fitzgerald let the Eagles with 20 and Lazar Hayward had 14. Tomorrow Marquette will look for its third win this season over Pitt.
Lawrence for St. John's was fouling to stop the clock late in the game, but instead of looking at the play, he was looking back over his should at the ref, as if to as, "is this a foul?" while he's slapping away.
Dan Fitzgerald has been aggressive for Marquette off the bench tonight and leads the Eagles with 19. Marquette is trying to close out a 6 point lead in the last few minutes, but they keep fouling. Fortunately for them, St. John's is only hitting about half their free throws.
St. John's is back down 8 after 7-footer Mike Kinsella hit just his fourth three pointer of the season. He only had one before the Eagles last game against Pitt, but he went 2-3 against them from beyond the arc. I guess he's feeling it.
There probably aren't too many guys who have hit more threes than free throws, but Kinsella's one of them. He's 1-5 from the line this year.
St. John's beat Marquette down the floor a couple of times and tied the game, but Marquette then did the same and the lead is back to five.
Just now, a double foul was called on Barro and Spears. I didn't see what happened, but a ref (not the one who called it) came over by the TV crew and told them that the players were "pushing each other around."
St. John's was having trouble finding three points shooters early in this half, but was able to hang in by making some shots of their own.
Dominic James missed a 3 and forced a 2 that was off, so he's still cold.
On one possession, Wes Matthews had to stop and tie his shoe while play was going on. That one ended in a Ousmane Barro layup that I thought didn't beat the shot clock, but the refs let it go. Nobody complained on the St. John's bench, so it was probably good.
James has missed all six of his three point attempts (2-8 from the floor overall), but he hasn't been taking bad shots. After his most recent miss, Crean was encouraging him from the sidelines as he came back down the floor, telling him not to worry about it. He had a great assist right before the half that led to a layup that gave the Eagles a 35-28 lead at the break.
So far today, I've seen mostly cheerleading squads that are pretty split between men and women. There have also been a couple of all-female groups, but St. John's is all women except for one guy.
Marquette's David Cubillan is fired up. He's out there clapping and cheering his teammates on. He's also making good passes to set them up. On defense, he came out to gaurd Qa'rran Calhoun, got down real low in a defensive stance, looked up at Calhoun and yelled "let's go!"
The Red Storm are taking a page out of the West Virginia playbook. They're 5-15 from the floor, 4-10 from three point range.
Dominic James got the game off to a fast start when he took the opening tip in for a dunk to give Marquette a 2-0 lead 3 seconds in. Anthony Mason, Jr has answered with two three-pointers, but Marquette still leads 9-8 at the first timeout.
No sign of Lamont Hamilton for St. John's. If he's hurt, then I've missed yet another memo.
The entire Marquette team is wearing the rain boot look. I've seen them before and they didn't have those shoes then, so this must be another new Nike thing.
We've finally reached the nightcap of the day. Marquette takes on the home team, St. John's. This is the first game of the day with no NCAA implications. Marquette is solidly in, St. John's is solidly out.
The Golden Eagles are dominated by guards Dominic James and Jerel McNeal. St. John's is led by forwards Lamont Hamilton and Anthony Mason, Jr. Marquette can be exploited by a big front line, although they beat Pitt and Aaron Gray twice.
For being the home team, they Johnnies don't have a lot of fan support. They don't even have a tenth of the support Syracuse did.
West Virginia does one thing - shoot threes. If the shot is falling, they'll probably win. If not, they'll probably lose. West Virginia is so committed to the three points shot that even with two minutes to go and a ten point lead, Alex Ruoff fired one up just one second into a possession because he was open. It went in, so I guess it's hard to argue with success.
Today, they fell and the Mountaineers won 92-79. West Virginia was 17-31 from three point range, but only 14-30 from inside the arc. West Virginia will face Louisville tomorrow night.
Providence played hard, but not always smart, and that was ultimately their undoing. They turned the ball over too much and kept losing the three point shooters on defense, which is the only thing you have to defend.
The Friar mascot may be creepy looking, but he was never out of the game. Every timeout, he was out dancing around, even if the WVU band was playing.
West Virginia continues to shoot threes, although they have slowed down a little bit. Also, they've tried to do some other things, like fast breaks, which don't work nearly as well. As a result, Providence has the lead down to six.
The Providence Band is playing Gimme Some Lovin' like they only have 15 seconds to get the whole song in.
Providence refuses to locate and close out on three point shooters. They refuse to give up their passive zone and try man-to-man. So, West Virginia refuses to stop shooting them and hitting them. Going back to the last half, nine of the Mountaineers' last ten shots have been three pointers and they've hit six of them.
In the first half, they shot two more threes (18) than twos (16).
Some of the Providence fans were booing WVU cheerleaders when they performed during the last timeout, which was called after WVU hit two straight threes to go up. Now, Providence has called another one because the Mountaineers hit two more and now lead by 7. One of those threes was by the 7-footer, Smalligan.
I really hate to broach the subject of fashion agan (Get it?! Broach? Fashion? I just kill myself sometimes), but I can not help but notice that the shoe many of the WVU players are wearing look exactly like my three-year-old's rain boots.
It looks like the Mountaineers can shoot in their rain boots. Back-to-back threes have them back in the lead.
The defenses have yet to show up in this game. Both teams are getting whatever shot they want. For WVU, that means threes, although they aren't falling yet. Providence is getting to the hole with ease and they lead 11-7.
I don't know a whole lot about either team. I haven't seen either one. Well, maybe five minutes of WVU.
I do know that West Virginia is trying to climb onto the bottom of the bracket. They haven't done much, and what good they've done, they've done at home. They beat UCLA, but the Bruins were pretty short handed that day.
Both teams have four starters that average in double figures, which means two things - it's likely that neither team gets much off the bench, and we probably won't have a performance like Villanova gave today, where two guys did most of the work and the others stood around and watched.
West Virginia's mascot is a Mountain Man who carries a rifle. I know they shoot that thing off at football games. I hope he keeps it holstered tonight, but if I'm a ref, I'm concerned that someone that close to me is armed.
Providence's mascot is, I assume, a Friar. It's really - what's the word - creepy. It's a guy with a big head on that has this gaping open-mouthed expression, perhaps a smile?, and he's wearing a white robe. I guess it's a Friar's robe. It also has a hood like a hooded sweatshirt. It kind of looks like a bad Halloween ghost costume.
The ref is testing the system that stops the clock automatically on his whistle, and it doesn't seem to be working.
I've been to NYC a couple of times, but never had any NY-Style pizza, so I grabbed some for dinner. It's OK.
Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese spent some time chatting hoops with evening ESPN crew.
The guy I thought was Bill Frieder is actually part of the ESPN behind-the-scenes crew. He just has the misfortune of being a dead ringer for Frieder.
While West Virginia was out shooting around before the game, a ball came off the rim hard and bounced all the way over by me and almost hits my computer. I got a hand on it and knocked it away. The last thing I need is for my chips to get smashed this week.
I don't want to say Syracuse fans drink a lot, but now that they're gone, the Garden has a subtle aroma that can only be described as "Fraternity Carpet".
Syracuse played much better team ball in the second half and rolled to a 78-65 win. They'll take on the Irish tomorrow.
Devendorf had a big game with 19, but Demetris Nichols hit 7-11 from three point range to end up with 28.
Late in the game, the ball got stuck between the shot clock and the top of the backboard. The 6-8 Nichols used a broom handle to get it down.
A piece of news came from the NCAA late in this game. Selection committee member and UCLA AD Dan Guerrero's father passed away last night. Gary Walters, the chairman of the committee released as statement saying that Guerrero will still participate in the process, but do so from LA by phone and computer so that he can be with his family.
I hope Adrien's shoes taste good because he just stuck his foot in his mouth and got T'd up for it. On the Huskies' next possession, Adrien's shoes were made for walking, and coach Calhoun expressed his sincere displeasure. He also got a T.
Demetris Nichols hit a three to put the Orange up 15, and while that was happening, the Huskies AJ Price committed a foul setting up to rebound and the Orange got the ball back. Rautins then was just long on a three that would have effectively ended any hope for UConn. If they still have any.
I suppose it's appropriate that I have so much fashion news seeing as the Garden is close to Fashion Ave here in NYC, so I have another report. UConn center Jeff Drien is sporting these white and metallic gold shoes that just don't look right with UConn's blue with red trim unis. They're nice shoes, but they would look a lot better on a team like Georgia Tech or Purdue.
The Orange are using their shoes to run the Huskies out of the game. The lead is now nine and UConn has called yet another timeout. This young Husky team is starting to get that deer-in-the-headlight look.
A steal by Andy Rautins led to a spinning layup by Devendorf to tie the game, and after another UConn turnover, Devendorf put them ahead on another layup slicing through the defense. Calhoun called a timeout. Apparently, whatever he said at halftime didn't work or didn't get through.
Connecticut leads by two after a sometimes sloppy, hard fought first half. Apparently, I jinxed Dyson because he still has 12 points and missed a layup at the buzzer. Devendorf has 15 to lead Syracuse.
The refs have called 15fouls so far, but they've probably let another 15go. There is a lot more grabbing, slapping and pushing going on in this game than in the first one. This looks more like wrestling than basketball at times.
Demetris Nichols has hit a couple of threes to get Syracuse within one. Devendorf and Watkins have seen a fair amount of time with two fouls, but neither has picked up his third yet.
UConn has an early 15-14 lead thanks to Jerome Dyson's 8 points. Eric Devendorf just made a great hustle play to follow his own shot and score, but he picked up his second foul right after that. Darryl Watkins also has two early fouls and UConn is in the bonus already. We'll see how much they play the rest of the half. Devendorf is still in. There's still 11:32 left.
Both teams are having trouble shooting. UConn is 6-15, while Syracuse is 6-17. The biggest problem has been shot selection. Both teams have guys that never met a shot they didn't take.
Those of you who have a vague idea what I look like were kind enough to tell me that you saw me right before the tip when they had a shot of the announcers on TV. I'm the guy in the lavender shirt in the background with my computer in front of me.
Hey, maybe I'll get more facetime on ESPN this week than their own bracket guy!
The house is pretty much full now. The Orange horde has arrived. The Orange team hasn't though. They look pretty sloppy in the early going and UConn leads 8-3.
Syracuse is wearing hte new Nike uniforms, which are making their debut on a handful of teams at their conference tournaments. They look like kind-of-tight fitting, sleeveless T-shirts with the word "Orange" on the front and numbers in gray, which I imagine will be a little tough to see on TV.
I think it's safe to say that I have never written this much about fashion. I probably never will again.
When Syracuse was warming up in front of me on this side, a couple of their players went out of their way to shake hands with Bilas and Raferty. Freshman Paul Harris wasn't too impressed though. He said to Bilas, "Where's Dickie V at?"
This game could have tournament implications also. Syracuse might be in if the tournament started today, but they might not be if they get beat today. It's been a miserable year for UConn, but just about every media person I spoke with earlier mentioned the Huskies as a dark horse to make some noise here, if not outright win it.
Villanova advanced to the second round to face Georgetown after beating DePaul 75-67. Sammy Mejia had 20 for DePaul, but by the time he tried to take over, it was too late. Reynolds and Sumpter got some help in the second half from Redding and Dante Cunningham, who had 9 and 12 respectively. Reynolds finished with 29 and Sumpter had 25.
DePaul can now make plans for the NIT without much chance of those plans getting scuttled.
Reggie Redding, who is playing in place of the injured Mike Nardi, just limped off with 2:07 to go and is having his ankle checked on the bench. Nardi, who made a cameo appearance in the first half and hadn't played at all in this half, has checked it. Of course, this isn't a bad spot to use him because the Cats will be trying to salt this one away at the line, and Nardi can shoot free throws OK.
As I was writing the previous paragraph, Reynolds took a hard spill, but he seems to be OK. He still has the shooter's touch. His first freethrow took half a dozen bounces off the back iron before going in.
Big East: No, son, you really shot it that badly on your own.
When I reffed, that's what I used to say to kids who would look at me and give me the tipped ball signal after a particularly lousy shot missed everything. Scottie Reynolds just did that to the ref here when he missed everything from about 21 feet. The ref just looked at him, smiled and shook his head.
In a less auspicious moment for the refs, a loose ball just hit DePaul's Kevin Butler in three places, including his face, before flying out of bounds and none of the refs saw it, so they gave it back to the Blue Demons. I wonder if they could check Butler's face for a dimple pattern, like they check ball marks in tennis. Nah, that probably wouldn't work.
Sammy Mejia of DePaul just scored his first points of the half, but Nova still has that persisitent five point lead at the last timeout. Maybe now we'll see that our-season-is-on-the-line intensity out of DePaul that has been missing so far.
I'm sitting where I can see the monitor Bilas and Raferty are using for their coverage, and it just showed a shot of Jim Calhoun walking into the Garden. I've never really understood why they show shots of people and teams showing up. Are we concerned they might not? But, I digress. Maybe Calhoun is just tired or something like that, but when he walked in, he looked like a beaten man.
Wilson Chandler just hit a high-arching shot to get the Demons with in three, but Scottie Reynolds beat them down the floor to send it back up to five with almost seven minutes left.
I almost never find myself noticing the looks and fashions of other men, especially since I'm so fashion-challenged that I'm not even allowed to pick out my own clothes, but it's striking how different Villanova coach Jay Wright and DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright look.
Wright looks like he walked out of a fashion magazine - not a hair out of place, suit perfectly tailored, shoes shined, etc. Wainwright's clothes are nice enough, but he still looks like we walked out of a 1920s detective novel.
Reggie Redding just took a 21-foot shot. Unfortunately, he was 18 feet away. Sumpter picked up his third foul on the rebound, but Nova still leads by 5 with 9:30 left.
Otis Redding just hit a three for Villanova. He's now the third Wildcat to score from the floor.
Oh, wait a minute. That was Reggie Redding.
There is a delay in the festivities for some unknown reason. Perhaps it has to do with media folks till trying to find their seats. Apparently, that's a big problem here. Several veterans of this event say it's not uncommon to see media wandering around for days trying to find their seats. Even a big shooter like Stewart Mandel is still looking for a home.
Nova started this half the same way they did the first - with an 8-0 run. Sumpter hit two threes and and Reynolds banked one in from 15 and Wainwright called the boys over for another four-letter word.
As we get to the half, Villanova's shooting statistics are striking. Sumpter is 5-11 for 13 points, Reynolds is 3-12, 3-6 from beyond the arc, for 11, and Dante Cunningham is 0-2. That's it. No one else has attempted a shot. They're not even pretending to look. At some point, they need to find a third option. The Wildcats lead by two at the half.
Villanova's cheerleaders and dancers look awfully tan for people who spend their winters in Philadelphia.
Here's something you don't often see in the bathrooms in the media area: diaper change stations. I know I don't have years of experience covering games, but I've yet to see a baby on press row.
It's time to replace the horn at the Garden. It's barely audible in an arena that's no more than 40% full.
After having seen the MVC tournament last week, this game looks like it's in slow motion. It's not that the teams aren't necessarily playing hard, it's just missing that extra bit of intensity that I was seeing in the MVC. Maybe it's the lack of familiarity in this league vs the MVC. Mabye it's because it's still early in the day, but these teams aren't selling out like the Valley teams did.
DePaul is making a little comeback and is within 1. Scottie Reynolds just had a sequence where he showed both his brilliance and his inexperience. He had a nice steal as DePaul was coming down on the break, but raced down the floor and missed the layup. Nova rebounded and sent it back out to him and he forced up a bad shot and missed. DePaul then came back down and scored.
Big East: DePaul not showing much fight - neither does song
DePaul's fight song has less fight in it than any fight song I've ever heard. It sounds more like a dirge. DePaul is showing about as much fight as the song and coach Wainwright doesn't seem too happy about it.
Mike Nardi made a brief appearance, but went back out.
DePaul band plays National Anthem. I can't find the flag. Some Villanova fan to my right is really belting it out. He's good too. I'm sitting next to a woman from PA who says he does that all the time.
Mike Nardi not starting for Nova because he's fighting an injury.
I made it to New York. It's 10:30 CT, which means I've already been up for eight hours and we're still a half hour from tipoff of game one in the Big East tournament between DePaul and Villanova. So if you see a blog entry in the evening session that says something like "dhgashgopahhgg", it means I've fallen asleep face first into my laptop.
I've only been to NYC a few times, and the last one was most of ten years ago. I have never been in Madison Square Garden before, and my first reaction is, where is everybody? This place is almost empty. The players, bands and cheerleaders don't quite outnumber the fans, but it's not far off. My second reaction is that this is a nice facility for being as old as it is. We'll have to see how it is when people get in here. Maybe they're stuck in traffic. I feel their pain.
I have a seat at one of the press tables, and I can only assume that this was designed for media members who are about 6'10". I'm 6'1 and even sitting on my coat, I look like my three year old sitting at our kitchen table. I have to reach up to type.
Just about everybody associated with ESPN is here. This is their big event, historically speaking. The network and the league put each other on the map. Jay Bilas is sitting in front of me and to my left a little. Jay's about 6'10", so he doesn't look like a little kid sitting at the press table. I may have trouble seeing over him for plays on that end of the floor. Bill Raferty and former Michigan coach Bill Frieder are here also. I wonder if they are doing radio.
OK, enough ancillary stuff. Let's look at this game. DePaul is trying to make a push into the bracket and will need to win at least today to get a chance. The Blue Demons have a few nice wins, most notably Kansas at home and today's opponent, Villanova, on the road. They also have a handful of silly losses that they need to wipe away, which is why they need to continue their strong finish to the season.
Villanova's tournament hopes are much higher. The Wildcats are one of the better road teams among the major conferences and they too have finished strong, winning seven of nine.
Personally, I'm looking forward to the matchup of Scottie Reynolds of Nova and Sammy Mejia of DePaul, although they may not actually guard each other.
Tip now about 15 minutes away. I wonder if they forgot to open the doors?
STORRS, Conn. - Perhaps sensing that their post-season hopes - Big East and otherwise - hang in the balance, UConn has played inspried ball in the latter part of the seocnd half and with 3:42 left int he game, leads 62-57.
UConn took it five point lead on a steal and break away dunk by Marcus Johnson with about five minutes to play - and Gampel got to its loudest point of the evening.
. . . Terrence Roberts fouled out with 6:07 left for Syracuse. He scored just two points. Darryl Watkins, playing with four fouls, was sent in to replace Roberts. He then fouled out with 3:42 left in the game, on a foul on Hasheem Thabeet.
. . . The Gampel crowd gave Roberts the "Left, Right, Left, Right" chant as he returned ot the bench from his fifth foul. It's ended with a "Sit Down," but Roberts head-faked and didn't sit just as the fans instructed him to. Nice touch by Roberts.
STORRS, Conn. - Both teams have come out on fire, scoring a combined 22 points in the first three minutes of play. Eric Devendorf opened with two 3-pointers, after scoring three points in the first half.
STORRS, Conn. - Using both the 3-ball and attacking the goal, UConn got out to a 22-21 lead with 4:00 left in the half. Marcus Johnson gave the Huskies the lead with a baseline drive and dunk that sent the Gampel crowd into a frenzy.
Syracuse re-assumed the lead, then gave it back over the final two minutes of the half. At the break, UConn leads, 28-27. Paul Harris and Demetrius Nichols lead Syarcuse with seven points each.
. . . This is about the fifth UConn game we've seen this season and it's by the far best AJ Price has played in any of those games. Price has 10 heading into the half and has been a catalyst for Jim Calhoun.
STORRS, Conn. - Sorry about our dearth of pre-game postings - between a nice chat with Mike Hopkins and some live-blog philosophical discussion with the Syracuse Post-Standard’s dynamic duo of Kim Baxter and Mike Waters, we caught a bit behind.
We’ll try and make up for it with a Big Monday-worthy effort from the Hang Time Live blog.
. .. Gampel is just about packed with five minutes until tip and most of the fans have obliged and put on the white t-shirts, provided by the "new" AT&T. It’s a vritual sea of white - just like they asked for
. . . Tonight’s officials are Jim Burr, Curtis Shaw and Reggie Greenwood.
STORRS, Conn. - Just back from our guided tour of UConn’s Burton Family Football Complex and the one thing that kept ruminating through our minds (especially with football signing day coming up on Wednesday), is that buildings like the BFFC are exactly what people are talking about when they discuss the Division I Football “Arms Race.”
At just under $50 million to build, The Burt is everything a big time college football program would need - and more. From the weight room to the meeting rooms to the training facility to the full-size indoor practice facility, if the building were plopped down in football country, down south, it would be a gem for any program.
. . . We’re about 20 minutes from tip and we were just able to share some time with Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins, one of the nation’s most coveted names when job openings occur. While many think Hopkins is in line to succeed Jim Boeheim at some point, the prevailing wisdom is that Hopkins might need to get his own program first and then return to the ‘Cuse when Boeheim finally hangs ‘em up.
For now, Hopkins is concentrating on helping the Orange get on track. “When our zone is moving like that,” he said as the team practiced in front of us, “it’s pretty tough to beat.”
Hopkins, a native Californian, would be a good fit for the Santa Clara job that will open at the end of the season. But he’d be a good fit just about anywhere - he can recruit, coach and shmooze the alum. A great combo for any aspiring coach.
STORRS, Conn. – Welcome to Gampel Pavillion for tonight’s Big East, Big Monday match-up between the host Huskies (14-8, 3-6) and the visiting Syracuse orange (16-7, 5-4). The game features the Big East’s two all-time winningest coaches in Jim Calhoun and Jim Boeheim.
Currently, the women’s team is practicing and not allowing the likes of us to sit courtside - for fear we might live-blog some important strategy. (The tension between women’s and men’s basketball programs is always evident in Storrs.)
It’s a “big” night on a number of fronts, not the least of which is that a win will help the Huskies in both their quest to make a post-season tournament AND to be in a better position to qualify for the Big East Tournament. UConn has lost five of its last six and Syracuse has lost three of the last four.
PROVIDENCE – Scottie Reynolds, from Herndon, Virginia, wound up on the Main Line of Philadelphia instead of on the plains of Oklahoma. A McDonald’s All-American his senior year at Herndon High School, Reynolds was signed, sealed and delivered to the Sooner program and coach Kelvin Sampson.
But when Sampson became the head coaching property of Indiana University, Reynolds was left downtrodden, disappointed and desiring a change.
“It was definitely disappointing on all sides, from the coaching side with Coach Sampson, and the players side with guys I met there,“ said Reynolds, 19. “But you know it’s just something you have to deal with. I’m happy right now trying to help this team win. Now I know it’s a new beginning, it’s a new chapter in my life.”
The book containing those chapters got a bit thicker on Tuesday night as Villanova won, 82-73, over Providence, on the road to even its Big East record at 3-3 (14-5 overall). Reynolds led all scorers with 20 points (14 in the second half) on 7 of 14 from the field and 2 of 4 from 3-point land. He also had three rebounds, six assists and, a very freshmanesque nine turnovers.
“That’s a freshman, man,“ laughed his coach, Jay Wright. “I think that’s something we have to live with this year. When we played at West Virginia he had (fewer) turnovers (five), but was a little bit crazier, believe it or not.“
PROVIDENCE – With under four minutes left in the game, Villanova maintains a 76-65 lead on the strength of a dominant second half by freshman Scottie Reynolds, who has 18 for the game (12 in the second half).
Nardi’s first field goal of the second half came with 3:41 left and gave the ‘Cats the cushion they now enjoy.
. . . We were wrong, Curtis Sumpter has been re-inserted into the line-up. It only makes his gallant effort even more gallant and gritty. But he is still hobbled, noticeably.
PROVIDENCE – The Friars have chipped away at the Villanova lead and now trail 57-51 with 11:41 left in the game.
Villanova coach Jay Wright received a technical foul at the 11:41 mark and with his ‘Cats leading, 57-51. It prompted a chant of “Shut Up, Jay Wright,” from the creative student section. One of the two technical free throws were converted to cut the lead to five.
PROVIDENCE – Villanova started out the second half on a 9-4 run, necessitating a pre-under 16:00 timeout by PC’s Tim Welsh. The run went to 14-5 and puts the score at 55-42 with 15:22 left in the game.
. . . ‘Nova’s Curtis Sumpter checked in at 16:05 of the second half. He quickly blocked a shot, outletted and found Scottie Reynolds for an open 3-pointer to give ‘Nova a 55-42 lead. Sumpter managed five points and two rebounds in 11 minutes of play in the first half.
PROVIDENCE - As one of the press room wags commented during our halftime cookie eating, "I thought this was a defensive league."
Not tonight, as the Friars and the Wildcats have combined to score 78 points and both teams have shot the ball extremely well (57 percent for 'Nova and 62 percent for PC).
. . . 'Nova out-rebounded PC 13-9 and had two fewer turnovers than PC (11 to 13).
. . . Curtis Sumpter started teh second half on the bench for the Wildcats.
. . . Scottie Reynolds had five assists and five turnovers in the first half - not a great ratio, but better than Geoff McDermott's three helpers and four turns and waaaaaayyyy better than Jonathan Kale's three turns and zero assists.
PROVIDENCE – The Friars tied the score at 27-27 with 4:22 left in the half and then took its first lead of the game with 3:49 left on a Dwain Williams 3-pointer. On the next trip down for PC, Williams drained another 3-pointer to boost the lead to 33-29 - it was his third of the game (nine points total).
. . . Curtis Sumpter continues to come in and out and he is clearly not any where near 100 percent.
PROVIDENCE – PC has gotten back into it with the 3-ball, including the first of the game for Weyinmi Efejuku with 8:23 left in the half to bring the Friars to within two points, 21-19. With 7:20 left in the half, the ‘Nova lead is 23-21.
. . . PC head coach Tim Welsh has been flabbergasted in the early going, using two tide-stemming timeouts before the game was ten minutes old. His Friars continued to be sloppy with the ball until Curry was re-inserted.
. . . Curtis Sumpter was also re-inserted with 10:44 left in the half and the ‘Cats up 19-11. He is back on the bench with 7:20 left in the half.
. . . Welsh rolled the dice and put back Sharaud Curry with 10 minutes left in the half (with two fouls) and was rewarded with an immediate 3-pointer form Curry to cut the ‘Nova lead to seven. Scottie Reynolds recognized the situation and began driving directly on a retreating Curry at the other end, but missed a lay-up.
PROVIDENCE – The Friars appear intent on bringing the ball inside against the Wildcats, while ‘Nova is looking to be more perimeter-oriented, including a two 3-pointers by Mike Nardi, who leads all scorers with eight points. Villanova is up 19-11 with 11:09 left in the half.
Sumpter was taken out in the 14:00-area and has been stretching his left leg on the bench with a green stretchy-cord (medical term). The way he was favoring the leg on up-court runs is not a good indication that he’ll be able to provide serious minutes for Jay Wright.
. . . Villanova got out to a 16-9 lead and then extended to 19-11 on Mike Nardi’s second 3-pointer of the game.
PROVIDENCE – Sloppy play ruled through the first four minutes of the game with five total turnovers between the two teams in the initial two minutes of action.
With 15:55 left in the half, Villanova leads 5-4.
. . . At 16:27, Curtis Sumpter was inserted into the line-up with a heavy wrap on his left leg from the thigh down to the knee. He seems to favoring the leg a bit when he's goes up and down court. He scored his first bucket of the game with 14:54 left.
. . . Sumpter’s replacement, Shane Clark registered two quick fouls, in 51 seconds, necessitating the insertion of freshman Reggie Redding by Jay Wright.
PROVIDENCE - The starting line-ups have been announced and Villanova's scoring leader, Curtis Sumpter is not in the Wildcats' first five. Starting in his place, for the seocnd striaght game is sophomore Shane Clark.
We're guessing this means Sumpter is a no-go all night, but we'll keep an eye open to see if he is inserted off the bench.
PROVIDENCE – Just a few minutes until tip and The Dunk is filling up at a steady rate.
No true celebrity sightings yet, but Jake and Elwood Blues are in the building tonight, each with white towels they’ll be waving on behalf of the home team. The duo stands, much to our dismay, in front of the band with black sunglasses and black hats topping off the required black suite, white shirt, black tie ensemble.
. . . Still no official word on Curtis Sumpter's status and the starting line-ups have yet to appear on the big board (we have no stats monitor at our seat tonight).
. . . For those of you who watched the Big East match-up between UConn-Louisville last night, you may recall a soapbox oration by Dick Vitale on the need for the Big East to get to a more balanced schedule where every team plays each other team at least once. As the scheduling stands now, some teams don’t meet at all during the regular season.
Well, it appears Vitale was talking a bit out of school. According to the Big East’s John Paquette, the situation had already been rectified and it has been decided that the 18-game slate for next year will ensure every team meets at least once (meaning some schools will play each other twice, as well).
The Big East is attempting to get the word out and we’re doing our part.
PROVIDENCE – We’re about 30 minutes from tip and the teams have completed stretching on the floor - still no official word on whether Curtis Sumpter will play for Villanova, it’s appearing like we’ll have to wait until tip to confirm one way or another.
If Sumpter does play, we’ll have some intriguing post match-ups between him and Herbert Hill of Providence. The guard match-ups are also potentially potent with Nova’s Mike Nardi being matched against either Sharaud Curry or the indefinable Geoffrey McDermott.
Hill is especially worth watching and has been getting raves from around the league in recent weeks. Hill a seniro from Kinston, N.C., helped lead the Friars to a 1-1 record last week. He recorded two double doubles and averaged 18.5 points, 14.0 rebounds and 5.5 blocks in the two league games. Hill recorded 17 points, 15 rebounds and six blocks in a 69-68 loss at Seton Hall on January 17. On January 20, he scored 20 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and registered five blocks in a 78-63 win over Rutgers on January 20. For Hill, it was his third consecutive double-double and sixth of the season. He also has registered seven games this season with 20 or more points.
. .. Providence was a very slight (one point) favorite in the morning papers, but we always like to go with the team that has more at stake, and league-wise, that is probably Villanova. The ’Cats, with a loss, would fall to 2-4 in league with a road game at revenge-minded Notre Dame on Saturday. PC goes to UConn on Saturday and with a loss would be 3-3 in league play.
PROVIDENCE – It appears Curtis Sumpter’s playing status for tonight is still up in the air. Villanova Sports Media Relations Director, the outstanding Mike Sheridan, confirmed to Hang Time that Sumpter is “50-50” with about an hour to tip.
. . . The Providence band has arrived and has assembled itself behind the Hang Time Perch. Now, the set-up around us goes like this: PC Cheerleaders working on moves in front of us and the horns and guitars tuning up behind us.
It’s a veritable potpourri of visual and audio delights. The bass player especially is laying down some nasty riffs.
. . . Villanova assistant coach, Ed Pinckney is chatting up some folks courtside behind the visitor’s bench. Pinckney had a cup of coffee with the nearby Boston Celtics during his 12 year NBA career.
PROVIDENCE – Hello and welcome to the Dunkin Donuts Center for tonight’s Big East match-up between the host Friars (13-5, 3-2) and the visiting Villanova Wildcats (13-5, 2-3). Both clubs are jockeying for position in the cluttered top portion of the conference. Villanova is one of three, two-league-win teams entering tonight, while Providence is one of four three-league-win teams.
The Dunk is quiet, for the most part, although a few minutes before 6 p.m., the Providence cheerleaders emerged from their locker room and began stretching in front of the Hang Time perch. Mostly girl talk, with one of the cheer ladies explaining her financial situation to the girls stretching around her. It seems her dad will always give her a check on the night she leaves to return to school, but never cash. Interesting.
Two Providence Friars are shooting around and a handful of Wildcats are in their navy blue warm-ups in white shirts and black sweatpants.
HARTFORD - In some regards, Indiana’s 77-73 win over UConn, was nothing more than the result of some intuitive scheduling by the Hoosiers and first-year coach Kelvin Sampson.
“When I first saw (this game) on the schedule, to be honest with you, I wasn’t enthralled,” said Sampson, who inherited some of the dates, including this one, from the prior Mike Davis regime. “But I told our kids after the (71-64 win over Iowa on Tuesday) this game was a great opportunity for us. Good bad or indifferent, this was a great opportunity and I think that attitude helped us approaching this game.”
It certainly must have, as the Hoosiers came out on fire, hitting on their first five 3-point attempts and jumping out to 19-6 lead, less than six minutes into the game. UConn recovered, tied the game at the half and kept it close throughout the second stanza. But in the end, it very well may have been the schedule that won out.
HARTFORD - The game has slowed considerably from the ragged pace UConn tried to instill in the latter parts of the first half. UConn has lingered and lingered, bringing the game back to even, 56-56, with just over nine minutes left. Now, at the under-8:00 media timeout, IU leads, 60-58.
A pretty move dow low on Thabeet by DJ White gave the Hoosiers a two point advantage as he scored his 20th and 21st points of the game, after the Huskies had pulled even.
The rebounding edge, which was 10 at the half, has bumped up to 13 (32-19) in favor of the Huskies. Jeff Adrien has nine boards and Stanley Robinson has seven (and 15 points) for UConn.
HARTFORD - The game has slowed considerably from the ragged pace UConn tried to instill in the latter parts of the first half. UConn has lingered and lingered, bringing the game back to even, 56-56, with just over nine minutes left. Now, at the under-8:00 media timeout, IU leads, 60-58.
A pretty move dow low on Thabeet by DJ White gave the Hoosiers a two point advantage as he scored his 20th and 21st points of the game, after the Huskies had pulled even.
The rebounding edge, which was 10 at the half, has bumped up to 13 (32-19) in favor of the Huskies. Jeff Adrien has nine boards and Stanley Robinson has seven (and 15 points) for UConn.
HARTFORD - The Hoosiers came out with five points in the first 54 seconds of the second half, to go up 44-39, leading to an immediate timeout from Jim Calhoun. The Hoosiers have now maintained that lead with 15:28 left in the game, 49-44.
With Thabeet back in the line-up and Jeff Adrien getting some rest, DJ White has been having to contend with the seven-footer on both ends of the floor.
. . .Leftover first half stats: IU had 13 points off turnovers to eight for UConn; Huskies led 12-0 on second chance points; largest leads of the half were 14 for IU and 5 for UC.
HARTFORD - Somehow, the UConn Huskies have managed to play better without their seven-footer, Hasheem Thabeet, than they were able to with him on the floor.
A Doug Wiggins three with two seconds left in the half knotted the game, 39-39 and culminated an impressive first half comeback by Calhoun’s bunch (which included a 24-5 run). Thabeet went out at about the 12 minute mark with two fouls, but UConn‘s bench provided a huge spark (outscoring the Hoosier reserves 12-3).
DJ White leads all scorers with 17 points and Stanley Robinson has 11 for UConn.
. . . UConn, which came out sluggish and a bit sloppy, made a ferocious sport form about the seven minute mark and played exactly the type of basketball that Jim Calhoun expects. The Huskies hold a 22-12 halftime rebounding edge and have dominated in the paint with a 26-8 edge in the lane.
HARTFORD - A re-energized Husky team got settled down in the second half of the first 20 minutes in stanza one, and cut the Hoosier lead down to two with 3:34 left, 29-27. The comeback came with Thabeet on the bench, but Curtis Kelly asserting himself inside on the offensive glass and the Huskies buckling down on the defensive end.
. . . The Huskies now hold an impressive 18-9 edge in rebounding, led by Adrien and Johnson, who have four each.
. . .The Huskies brought it to 28-20 with 7:30 left in the half and then allowed the fans to get back into it, which in turn led to a Curtis Kelly put-back that cut the lead to six and then to four on the next UConn Possession, 28-24.
Sampson called another timeout to stop the flow with 5:39 left.
HARTFORD - The crowd was in this one at the tip and for a time (maybe 30 seconds), it was the best home court atmosphere the Huskies have benefited from yet this season.
But Indiana’s Armon Bassett quieted the crowd early and often with three 3-pointers in the games first four minutes. And a DJ White power dunk (and foul) with 14:39 left, made the score 18-6.
IU jumped out to 7-2, then 11-4 on its way to the 12 point cushion as UConn had some early game jitters and snafus in trying to get into its half court offense, including two quick turnovers (they now have four turns that have led to nine points).
HARTFORD - If the pre-game stats monitor is to be believed, sophomore guard AJ Price will be replaced in UConn's starting line-up by freshman Doug Wiggins. Price, who has been a horrible shooting funk, will miss his first start this season, having been in the starting five for all 17 games this far. It means Jim Calhoun will start four freshmen.
UConn adds sophomore Jeff Adrien to the frosh, Jerome Dyson, Stanley Robinson and Hasheem Thabeet to its first five. Indiana will go with Armon Bassett, DJ White, Roderick Wilmont, Mike White and Earl Calloway.
. . . In our three visits to the HCC this season, this is by far the marquee game and as such, has the Civic Center a bit of a buzz with 10 minutes til tip.
We walked through a host of IU fans in the HCC lobby and there’s a good amount of maroon/red already scattered throughout the seats. We ran into at least two groups of intrepid IU fans who drove the 15 or so hours from Bloomington.
Game time temperature, outside the HCC was 25 degrees, in case you’re wondering and the IU fans were complaining.
HARTFORD - Welcome (back) to the Hartford Civic Center for today’s CBS broadcast of a rare, mid January, interconference match-up between the host UConn Huskies (13-4, 2-2 BIG EAST ) and the visiting Indiana Hoosiers (13-4, 4-1 BIG TEN).
It's 30 minutes from tip on the game clock and Indiana players are currently stretching on the half of the floor that will be in front of the Huskies bench. They are in their maroon shooting jerseys and candy-striper pants.
Lots of intrigue and compelling storylines in this one, but chiefly it’s the need for UConn to get a quality win on its resume before rejoining the fray of the bruising Big East. To say that UConn’s season is teetering might be an exaggeration. But it has elements of truth to it.
Indiana, meanwhile, under first-year coach, Kelvin Sampson, has reeled off four straight, eight of nine and is looking like an upper echelon Big Ten team.
. . . This is Hang Time’s third trip to the Civic Center this season and we still can’t get over the Purple People Ushers here at the HCC. The entire usher crew wears some prominent article of clothing in the Barney purple color.
. . . Consider this the warm-up to the New England Patriots vs. Indianpolis Colts AFC Championship game which kicks off on CBS Sunday at 6:30 p.m., and has basically gripped New England in the throes of playoff fever.
STORRS, Conn. – Tom Crean and his Marquette Golden Eagles left Jim Calhoun muttering on Wednesday night. By the time the cranky Calhoun was finished dressing down his team (which barely showed up), his fandom (which showed up late and left early) and at least one reporter/sports editor (who cowered and whimpered), the only thing left for the 64-year-old task master to mutter was this: “We were God-awful offensively.”
Crean, on the other hand, was left to contemplate the difference between 0-3 in league play and the 1-2 his team’s 73-69, 31-game Husky home-winning streak-snapping win over UConn translated into.
“I hadn’t thought about that. Probably the (difference is) the way my stomach feels and the way everybody’s stomach feels,” said Crean who, in an effort to 'clear some heads', took his team and its traveling party to the nearby Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame on Tuesday. “The greatest thing about this time of year is you don’t have a chance to get too high or too low – you have to move forward. I’m glad we’re playing Saturday just like I’m sure Jim’s glad he’s playing right away.”
STORRS, Conn. - Amazingly enough, Marquette dominated in the paint, outscoring UConn, 38-22 in the lane. Playing with passion and maybe a little desperation, the Golden Eagles out-rebounded the Huskies 50-39 and hung on for the much-needed 73-69 win.
UConn (12-3, 1-2) did show a bit of spunk in the final three minutes, going on a 5-0 run that cut the lead to 62-53 with 2:30 left. A turnover on the ensuing inbounds by Marquette (14-4, 1-2) resulted in an empty possession when a loose ball wound up in Marquette’s hands and MU extended back to 63-53. The Huskies made it interesting by getting to within five with 52 seconds left in the game.
Dominic James hit some key free throws down the stretch (6 of 10 for the game from the line) to seal the game for MU.
STORRS, Conn. - An overall disappointing effort from UConn manifested itself through the latter stages of the second half as Marquette has now built its lead to 14 (62-48) and is able to run clock with 3:49 left in the game.
. . . UConn’s “faithful” were seen heading to the exits with 6:05 left and a 12 point deficit, following a dagger-like three form Dominic James. There is very little patience with the young puppies in Husky Nation. The steady stream picked up at the under-4:00 media timeout as the scurrying for the exits began in earnest.
STORRS, Conn. - It’s become a nip and tuck affair but Marquette re-asserted itself in the 8:00 area, highlighted by a breakaway dunk by Dominic James off the Huskies’ 20th turnover of the game. At the under-8:00 media timeout, the Golden Eagles lead 54-48 with 7:28 left in the game.
. . . Marquette’s Ousmane Barro has been huge at both ends of the floor with 14 points and nine rebounds on 6 of 9 from the field. Barro has also more than held his own on the defensive end, often times against the bigger, broader Hasheem Thabeet, who has a tendency to disappear - as freshman are wont to do.
STORRS, Conn. - UConn came out with a renewed passion to start out the second half, going ahead briefly at 33-32 as Hasheem Thabeet scored his first field goal of the game. Marquette took the lead back on the ensuing possession and now lead 40-38 with 15:41 left in the game.
. . . UConn is creeping back up in field goal percentage, after dipping to below the Mendoza line in the first half. Through the first media timeout of the second half, they are now at 36 percent (12 of 33).
STORRS, Conn. - UConn came out with a renewed passion to start out the second half, going ahead briefly at 33-32 as Hasheem Thabeet scored his first field goal of the game. Marquette took the lead back on the ensuing possession and now lead 40-38 with 15:41 left in the game.
. . . UConn is creeping back up in field goal percentage, after dipping to below the Mendoza line in the first half. Through the first media timeout of the second half, they are now at 36 percent (12 of 33).
STORRS, Conn. - UConn’s struggles from the field are reaching epic proportion as the Huskies are now 7 of 25 from the field but have managed to stay within five points, trailing 28-23 with 3:08 in the half. MU, for its part, is not setting any land speed records from the field and has managed to hit just 11 of 28 (39 percent).
The oddest part of the shooting woes for the Huskies are that the vast majority of the misses have been from inside the paint.
. . . Jim Calhoun is beside himself after two straight breakout opportunities and conversions by the Golden Eagles that extended their lead to 28-21 with 4:10 left in the half. Calhoun might just need to get a technical foul for the sake of rallying his troops - or saving his sanity.
Calhoun, during one of the timeouts with a bit more than 4:00 left in the half, allegedly turned to the center court fans opposite the bench - some of whom were booing the effort of his team - and mouthed some naughty words.
STORRS, Conn. - It was just six days ago that Hang Time caught Marquette against Providence in a game that put into doubt the early season hype over the Golden Eagles start. Providence was in control from tip to finish and Marquette - without guard Jerel McNeal - looked cooked.
Tonight, the Golden Eagles have come out with a vim and vigor and lead 16-8 with 11:37 to go. UConn has already used 12 players in an effort to stem the tide (and appease cranky Jim Calhoun).
The Huskies are shooting an abysmal 22 percent from the field while MU is at 40 percent. Both Dominic James and Jerel McNeal have six points each and UConn’s Jeff Adrien has five.
STORRS, Conn. - Marquette burst out to a 8-1 lead after four straight UConn turnovers. The turnovers necessitated mass substitutions from an incensed Jim Calhoun who had used 10 players by the time the game was 2:01 old.
UConn’s first field goal didn’t come until the 16:42 mark (jumper by Jeff Adrien).
At the first media timeout, with 15:49 left in the half, MU led 8-5 as Uconn appeared to be suffering from greasy, or cold, fingers. The Huskies have six turnovers in 4:21 and Marquette has converted those into six points.
STORRS, Conn. - If the stats monitor can be trusted, it appears AJ Price will make his 15th start of the season. There had been some speculation that Price, who has struggled as of late, would be used off the bench with Craig Austrie getting the start.
The starters, as indicated on our handy-dandy stat screen are: Marcus Johnson, Jeff Adrien, Jerome Dyson, Price and Hasheem Thabeet for UConn. Marquette will go with Dominic James, Jerel McNeal, Wesley Matthews, Lazar Hayward and Ousmane Barro.
It is the second straight game that Crean will use that line-up to get things going for the Golden Eagles.
STORRS, Conn. - We’re about 20 minutes from tip and Gampel is starting to fill up with what will be a predominantly non-student crowd, as the kids are still away on Winter break.
. . . UConn will honor Head Coach Jim Calhoun tonight during pre-game introductions with the unveiling of a banner recognizing his enshrinement as a founding member of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in Kansas City. Calhoun (745 career wins) needs one win to tie Phog Allen (746) for 12th place on the NCAA All-Time Division I Coaching Wins List. He is three short of 500 for his UConn coaching career.
The banner is currently covered by a black sheet and will be unveiled high on the wall behind the benches at Gampel. It joins, from left to right, a placard honoring UConn National Players of the Year (so far just Emeka Okafor, 2004); the 1988 National Invitation Tournament champion banner; the 1999 NCAA National Champion banner; the 2004 National Championship Banner; and Calhoun’s banner acknowledging his Class of 2005 induction into the Naismith Baskteball Hall of Fame. The opposite wall has the women’s accomplishments, too numerous to mention here.
STORRS, Conn. - Both the Huskies and the Golden Eagles are shooting around as the pre-game clock winds down from 60:00. Marquette is in its road blue shorts, sweatpants and jerseys while UConn is in the white “throwback” uniforms - with white shooting tops - that are worn so often they can hardly be considered throwback any more. But we digress.
Marquette has been all-business in shoot around with guards getting good defensive work-outs and the big men pounding each other on the low block. You sense the Golden Eagles might know what’s at stake at tonight.
. . .Connecticut is holding opponents to 35.0 percent shooting, tied for second-best in Division I. The Huskies are allowing 57.1 points per game, and the Golden Eagles are looking to avoid being held below 60 for a third consecutive game (both losses at Providence and home to Syracuse). It is the first back-to-back conference losses in Crean's eight seasons at the helm and the first for the program since the 1998-99 season - that year, under Mike Deane, MU started off 0-5 in Conference USA play and finished 6-10 in the league and 14-15 overall.
Last year, MU started 1-1 in Big East play, opening with a 94-79 win over then-No. 2 UConn. They finished 10-6 and 20-11 overall before a first round loss to Alabama in the NCAA Tournament.
STORRS, Conn. - Welcome to Gampel Pavilion on the campus of the University of Connecticut for tonight’s Big East meeting between the host, No. 24/22 Huskies (12-2, 1-1) and Marquette (13-4, 0-2).
Were 90 minutes away from tip and a group of six female UConn cheerleaders are reheasring on half of the floor and a few UConn players have filtered onto the ocurt for some light shooting. Students (who are one break through next Monday) were lined up outside at two gates, but have now been allowed into the endzone student section.
. . . Marquette is installed as an eight-point underdog by the Vegas Wise Guys and we’re tempted to think that spread is underestimating the desperation that Tom Crean’s Golden Eagles will be playing with - starting out 0-3 in the rough and tumble Big East would not be advantageous for MU or any true Big East contender.
UConn’s home-court winning streak - now at 31 - is, in no small part, the impetus for the 8-point prediction. The Huskies haven't lost at home since a 77-70 setback to then-No. 2 North Carolina on Feb. 13, 2005. UConn is 108-15 in Gampel Pavilion, including a 57-11 mark vs. BIG EAST competition.
PROVIDENCE - Take away two games in the Sunshine State (losses at Florida and Florida State) and an inexplicable home defeat to Brown, and these Providence Friars would be 14-0, nationally-ranked and the talk of college hoops in the Northeast.
As it is, the Friars, now 11-3 (1-0 in the Big East) are playing as if they should be in the Top 25. Thursday night’s 74-59 win over No. 15/21 Marquette (13-3, 0-1) before 8,954 at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center will certainly open some eyes to the Friars viability in the Big East.
“It was a high energy, high intensity game,” said Friars head coach Tim Welsh. “We’re very happy with our effort tonight.”
PROVIDENCE - Marquette continues to linger, trimming what was a 15 point lead to seven with 4:41 left in the game, as they trailed 58-50.
But a 3-pointer by Weyinimi Efejuku out of a timeout by PC, upped the lead back to 61-50.
. . . At the under-8:00 media timeout PC continued to out-rebound MU, 31-18. The Friars were shooting 53.8 percent form the field and the Golden Eagles were at 36.4 percent. PC was outscoring MU, 32-22 in the paint.
. . .The Friar mascot nearly nailed a half court shot at the under-8:00 timeout - no small feat when you’re wearing a hooded-robe (is that a frock?) and the requisite mascot head.
PROVIDENCE - Providence continues to take it to the Golden Eagles at every opportunity. With 9:37 left in the game, Geoff McDermott drove the lane, made his lay-up, was fouled and converted to give PC its biggest lead of the game, 56-41.
Now, with 7:54 left in the game, PC leads 58-44 and would appear to have things well under control.
McDermott especially has been outstanding in the second half with seven of his nine points coming in the second stanza.
PROVIDENCE - Marquette is starting to pound the glass with more urgency to open the second half, but PC is working the ball inside consistently to maintain its nine point halftime lead, 43-34 at the first media timeout..
PC’s interior passing continues to be impressive, especially among the big men, Jonathan Kale and Herbert Hill, who now has 14 points.
PROVIDENCE - Marquette has admirably stuck with the Friars after a sluggish start and the halftime lead for PC is down to, 37-28.
PC seemed to lose a bit of its defensive intensity midway through the half and despite shooting poorly, MU has kept it close enough to give hope that they will be able turn it around in the second half.
Wesley Matthews continues to lead Marquette with nine points and PC is being led by Dwain Williams with 11, including three swish three-pointers.
PROVIDENCE - Providence’s stifling defense continues to disrupt the MU offense and at the under-8:00 media timeout, MU was shooting 29.4 percent form the field while PC was at 60 percent. Now, with 4:30 left in the first half, PC leads 28-18.
Marquette’s Dominic James has struggled from the field, missing his first three shots, all three 3-pointers. His first field goal, a driving lay-up didn't come until the 4:00 minute mark.
PROVIDENCE - Herbert Hill has been impressive early for the Friars on both ends of the floor and has started off with five of PC’s first 14 points. The Friars are also using the 3-ball to their advantage with Dwain Williams hitting two early and Weyinmi Efejuku adding one as well.
Wesley Matthews has started off hot for MU, with seven of the Golden Eagles first 12 points.
Your score with 11:42 left in the half is PC 20, MU 12.
PROVIDENCE - Providence is attacking the offensive glass early with Jonathan Kale and Herbert Hill aggressively hitting the rim. Marquette has come out ice cold with Dominic James missing two 3’s early.
The Friars have jumped out to a 10-2 lead at the first media timeout, with 15:37 left in the half.
PROVIDENCE - We’re at tip time form The Dunk and we’re expecting a highly competitive game and the winner will most certainly be the team that can control tempo. Providence is averaging 80.5 points per game and Marquette has been holding teams to 59.3 points per contest.
The loss of both guards (Sharaud Curry for PC and Jerel McNeal for Marquette) presents an intriguing opportunity for reserves to step up for both clubs.
PROVIDENCE - Those of you Hang Time hangers who were with us last time we were in The Dunk (for PC-BC on Thanksgiving Eve) will remember our slight infatuation with the local COX Sports sideline reporter.
Well, lo and behold, the talented Shawna Hassett is back in the house providing sideline commentary for the duo of play-by-play man, Don Orsillo and collor guy, Ron Perry.
You would be forgiven if you ignored our blogging while Shawna is on-screen. But ONLY at those times.
. . . We’re 15 minutes from tip and The Dunk is filling in nicely. Both teams took the court with about 20 minutes til tip to go through lay-up lines and shooting. The Golden Eagles were received with a loud round of boos emanating form the student section. PC students are on break for another week and a half, but there is still a good sizable amount of black t-shirt clad, Friar Fanatics.
PROVIDENCE - We’re about 45 minutes from tip and both teams have been shooting around and stretching on The Dunk’s court - which this weekend will be dedicated to honor Hall of Famer Dave Gavitt.
Marquette is in its road blue uniforms with blue shooting shirts, Providence is in the home whites with black sweats and white shooting jerseys.
. . . A smattering of Providence College students have filtered into the end zone seats behind the Hang Time perch. There is also a handful of Marquette faithful congregating at the end where the Golden Eagles are shooting.
PROVIDENCE - Welcome to the Dunkin’ Donuts Center for tonight’s Big East opener for No. 15/21 Marquette (13-2, 0-0) and host, Providence (10-3, 0-0).
Foxsports.com’s Jeff Goodman is reporting that neither Marquette’s Jerel McNeal (injured while banging heads in practice) nor Providence’s Sharaud Curry (suspended for a violation of team rules) will play tonight. McNeal is his team’s second-leading scorer, while Curry is Providence’s leading point-getter (17.3 ppg, 5.5 apg)).
HARTFORD - As one of seven children (four brothers and two sisters), Doug Wiggins has grown accustomed to waiting, sharing and being in the shadows.
Now, as a freshman for the undefeated (10-0) UConn Huskies, Wiggins is starting to emerge from those shadows and beginning to cast his own. The waiting is apparently over - but not the sharing.
“The way we want to break the press is exactly the way Dougie did it tonight,” said Husky head coach, Jim Calhoun after his teams 88-66 win over Pepperdine in front of 15,117 at the Hartford Civic Center. “Dougie plays end to end and when Craig (Austrie) and (seven turnover) AJ (Price) were playing just okay, he made some end-to-end drives.”
HARTFORD - UConn asserted its will in the second half to wrap up the 88-66win. Pepperdine's 3-point barrage petered out and the Huskies defense dominated, holding the Waves to 30 second-half points, while putting up 48 of their own.
HARTFORD - UConn is playing with a bit more focus through 4:07 of the second half and, as tonight’s special “Hang Time” analyst Seth Davis has pointed out, the Huskies appear to be trying to get Jerome Dyson more involved.
UConn now leads 46-38, after a 6-2 spurt to start the half.
Dyson had four points in the first half and already has four in four minutes of the second half. He did, however pick up his third foul of the game with 15:18 left.
HARTFORD - Just a truly wonderful halftime stat sheet if you like to see the bizarre:
Pepperdine shot better form 3-point land (8 of 15) than it did from the rest of the court (6 of 17). Overall, the Waves shot 43.8 percent form the field. UConn shot 54.5 percent from the field (just 2-of-8 form 3-point land).
The Huskies out-rebounded the Waves 22-15 and outscored Pepperdine 28-12 in the paint.
Still, we’re left with a 40-36 halftime score and whatever remnants from Jim Calhoun’s pneumonia that still exist, we’re guessing he’s sweating them out during the course of his halftime diatribe.
. . . The halftime entertainment at the HCC consisted of a bleach-blonde gentleman spinning around the floor in what appears to be a an oversized wheel rim. Known as “Wheelwork by Chris,” he hails from Cirque de Soleil and according to UConn super-assistant SID, Leigh Torbin, the contraption breaks down into five pieces for easy plane travel.
HARTFORD - A spirited latter half of the first stanza by Pepperdine has made a game out of it, trimming the Husky lead to six at halftime, 40-36.
Pepperdine’s Tomas Pranciliauskas has single-handedly kept the Waves in the game with 14 first-half points on 4 of 5 shooting from 3-point land. Hasheem Thabeet has 12 for UConn, which really fell apart on the defensive end during the last minutes of the half.
HARTFORD - Pepperdine continues to throw the ball away with regularity, but is able to keep the UConn lead to under 10 through its extensive use of the three-poin shot. Still, with under 8:00 to play, the Huskies maintain a 30-21 lead.
. . . AJ Price continues to shine for UConn with five points and at least one astonishing dime. We’ll ignore - for now - the 3-point air ball he heaved with 9:04 left in the half.
HARTFORD - Just a few minutes from tip and the HCC is filling in with Husky supporters.
. . . The Waves very rarely get to the Northeast, but they did play UConn’s Big East Brethren Syracuse during the 1996-97 season under then-coach Lorenzo Romar (a 77-64 loss). There have been just ten other Waves’ head coaches in the program’s history (since 1938). Included on the list is Jim Harrick, Jan Van Breda Kolf and Paul Westphal (who left after last season).
HARTFORD - We’re about 40 minutes from tip and both teams are currently on the floor, stretching and doing some light shooting. Both teams have blue warm-up jerseys, but the Huskies are wearing white shirts and shorts underneath, Pepperdine is in its road blues.
The PA system at the HCC is playing holiday music - the current selection is "Walking in a Winter Wonderland." Sadly, no snow is forecast for the Hartfrord-area - so we're all walking in a Winter Warmland, to be technical about things.
. . . Vance Walberg is considered a bit of an innovator for his wide-open offensive style. In fact, much of what Walberg runs on the offensive end is being used (and has been used) by Memphis coach, John Calipari. Calipari, when we visited with him in Memphis during the pre-season, raved about Walberg and the system. Calipari also likes it for what it does for him on the recruiting end - “Kids want to play like this, up and down,” he said.
Here’s how Walberg explains his system in his Pepperdine bio:
"Shoot, shoot and shoot some more. It's really very simple. What I do is I spread you out and we attack. I call it AASAA-Attack, Attack, Skip, Attack, Attack. Everybody gets a big plus out of it. It starts with the guards. The first thing I want them to do is come down and look to score. It's up to the guards to be able to break their man down. Once the breakdown process begins and whoever helps, that's where the kick goes. If we struggle, we reverse things and put it inside and it's time for the big guys to take over. It's very simple."
. . Senior guard Jason Walberg (Vance’s son) is lost for the remainder of the season after suffering a knee injury during practice on November 24. Walberg played in five games and averaged 14.0 points and 2.4 rebounds a contest.
. . . Pepperdine ranks fifth in the country in three point field goals made. The Waves have totaled 133 and are averaging 11.1 made three-pointers per game. Virginia Military Institute leads the nation with 14.7 three-pointers a game. The Wave has also forced a WCC-high 259 turnovers (21.6 turnovers a game) and has a league-best turnover margin of +4.9. Uconn averages just under 15 turnovers per game, something that has been a big focus for the Huskies who started the season turnover-prone. (Since the fifth game of the year against Albany when the Huskies turned it over 19 times, they have had games of 13, 14, 12 and 14 turns.
. . . UConn Sophomore point guard A.J. Price has totaled 22 assists and one turnover in the past three games and has 49 assists and 15 turns on the season
. . . UConn is 6-0 record against teams from the West Coast Conference under Jim Calhoun, 2-0 against Gonzaga, 3-0 vs. Pepperdine and 1-0 vs. St. Mary’s.
. . . We're told that tickets are still available for tonight's game, if you find yourself in the Hartford area in the next half hour or so.
Hello Hang Time hangers-on - hope all your holiday shopping is complete and you're ready for a bit of live-blogging coming your way this week, here at CSTV.com.
On Wednesday evening, LIVE from Hartford, we'll be courtside for a rare eastern trip for the Pepperdine Wave, as they take on the No. 11 UConn Huskies. It will be our second glimpse of UConn this season, but the first in a month, so it should be interesting to see how Jim Calhoun's kiddie corps is coming along. (The game will be televised by ESPNU.)
PROVIDENCE - Both Boston College and Providence College were facing bounce back games on this, Thanksgiving Eve, 2006.
BC had lost AT HOME to Vermont, 77-63 nine days prior. PC had lost AT HOME to Brown, 51-41, just four days earlier.
So the “quicksand” that PC coach Tim Welsh said his Friars were walking around in the past few days was probably doubly quick and doubly sandy for Al Skinner’s Eagles.
The difference after 40 minutes of spirited play (mostly by the Friars) is that Welsh and his team (2-1) will enjoy their turkey, stuffing and desserts just a bit more because of the 73-64 win. Skinner and his Eagles (1-2) will likely have trouble even looking at the bird on their table.
PROVIDENCE - The Dunk has been rocking a bit this second half as Providence extended its lead to eight, midway through the stanza and has not looked back since. The lead now stands at 65-58 with 1:33 left in the game
PC continues to win the battle of the boards with about six more total rebounds than BC. The Eagles are also struggling from 3-point land, where they are 2-of-14 for 14 percent.
PROVIDENCE - The second half continues to be a back and forth affair with BC starting assert itself a bit more, but Providence clinging to 49-45 lead with 11:45 left in the game.
Sean Williams for BC continues to fly all over The Dunk and has seven blocks and a couple of goal-tendings.
. . . The lingering question for the NBA-types on BC’s Jared Dudley is whether or not he can shoot it form the outside, something he’s not asked to do a lot of in BC’s system. Usually, though, it’s been our experience that feisty, hard-nosed players like Dudley manage to get onto someone’s roster and stick around the league a bit.
PROVIDENCE - This one very much feels like an old Big East brawl with PC and BC notched 33-33 at the half.
The Friars have played a spirited 20 minutes of basketball and continue to pound inside on the BC defense, especially with wide-body sophomore Jonathan Kale (who we earlier mis-identified as Herbert Hill. Kale’s got a few pounds on Hill, for sure).
Providence out-rebounded Boston College 24-17 in the first half, and despite shooting 36 percent in the half, the Friars still led for most of the stanza (BC shot 45 percent). Jared Dudley had 11 points and Sean Marshall added 10 for BC. For PC, Kale scored nine, Geoff McDermott had eight and Weyinmi Efejuku scored 7.
Sean Williams' line for BC was most impressive: zero points, five rebounds, six blocks, two assists, two turnovers and three fouls.
PROVIDENCE - We’ll be keeping an eye on the point guard match-up for sure. BC’s sparkplug PG is Tyrese Rice, a sophomore from Richmond, who opened eyes as a freshman, garnering All-ACC rookie team honors last season.
For PC, sophomore Sharaud Curry from Gainesville, Georgia, led the Friars in assists last season and was an All-Big East rookie team pick.
PROVIDENCE - Fans are trickling into the building formerly known as the Providence Civic Center and we’re about 20 minutes from tip.
PC is in their black warm-ups going through lay up lines and BC is doing the same in maroon gear. The PC band is playing just behind the Hang Time perch and this meeting of former league rivals is starting to build with a bit of tension.
Both teams come in needing the win (for self confidence and RPI purposes), but it’s also one of the oldest rivalries in college hoops and the teams have had their share of doozies over the years, during 100 meetings.
PROVIDENCE - We’re about an hour from tip between Boston College and Providence College and we’ve secured internet access over a network id’d as “P(rovidence) Bruins Locker Room.” We believe this means that we’re stealing signal from the Boston Bruins organization and it makes us quite happy to think that all these awful recent years of Beantown hockey are being avenged by me squatting on the Baby Bruins’ WiFi. (If we’re suddenly booted, we’ll know that the ghost of Bobby Orr is omnipresent.)
But we’re here at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center for college hoops and an important night for both the Friars and the Eagles, who enter with matching 1-1 records.
. . . PC assistant coach Steve DeMeo stopped by the Hang Time perch. “Anyone read that thing?” he asked.
“Does my mom count?”
DeMeo, whose name surfaced for a few head jobs over the past couple of seasons, said his guys appear to be ready and understand the task at hand. He also thinks the Brown loss might have woken up his guys a bit.
EN ROUTE TO PROVIDENCE - Two of the Big Three of New England’s hoops’ elite - Boston College and Providence College - meet tonight in what can best be described as an “intriguing early season match-up.”
Both teams are coming off humiliating losses for their respective leagues. Most recently, the Big East’s Friars got whacked around by in-state “rival” Brown in a 51-41 home loss. Over a week ago, ACC power, BC got thwacked (77-63) at home by the America East’s upstart, Vermont Catamounts.
To re-cap: The Bears and the Catamounts pounced on the Friars and the Eagles in the course of six days, throwing all sorts of RPI computers into bronchitis-like, coughing fits.
. . . We’ve heard that WiFi can be sketchy inside The Dunk, so we can only guarantee that we will be filing at some point before, during and after the contest. Hopefully it will be from courtside and not the nearby Starbucks.
HARTFORD - The fast-talking coach is getting older, in this, his 21st season as the head coach of the University of Connecticut - his 35th overall. The answers still come at warp speed, the “very, very, very’s” interspersed with the all-knowing nods of an old veteran of this circuit.
HARTFORD - With under three minutes left in the game, UConn leads 73-55.
It has been a very thorough dismantling of the Rebels, who were making their first ever trip to the Constitution State. To the Rebels credit, they hung tough and didn’t allow things to get totally out of hand. Ole Miss will struggle, especially in the rough and tumble SEC, but Andy Kennedy was a solid hire for this program and recruiting has been going well according to assistant coach Michael White.
The Rebels earlier this week announced the signings of Zach Graham (Top 100 from Suwanee, Georgia); Chris Warren (Top 20 point guard from Orlando) and Kevin Cantinol (Clearwater, Fla.).
Ole Miss also got Florida-transfer David Huertas back in July.
. . .Once again, to remind you of our post-game plan, we’ll file a “columnette” after the post-game interviews have concluded and also plan on having scouting reports for both teams by late Monday, so be sure to check out the Searching for Cinderella page, where the Scouting Reports live in the lower right-hand corner of the page.
HARTFORD - UConn has extended its hafltime lead by a point to 53-36 with 11:34 left in the game. Ole Miss needs to be given credit for A) keeping things from getting out of hand and B) firing away on the three-pointers.
HARTFORD - Before last night’s film breakdown, Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy invoked the Rebel football team as evidence that upsets can happen.
At the time of the film session, Ole Miss was up on LSU (on the road) 20-3, in what would have been a huge upset.
We’re doubting Kennedy was able to continue to use the analogy for today’s pre-game speech, as the Rebels wound up dropping the game to LSU, 23-20 in overtime.
But, at the time, he was saying it, it had the desired effect. And through the first eight minutes of this contest, it’s working as the Rebels are tied 12-12 with the Husky Puppies (one senior, one junior and all the rest sophomores and freshmen).
HARTFORD - Fairfield hung on for a 46-43 win over Central Arkansas in the night’s opening game, meaning the Stags managed to go 1-2 for the weekend, while Scottie Pippen’s old school (in its first season of Division I play) went 0-for-Hartford.
We are now about 20 minutes from tip of the nightcap between UConn and Ole Miss and both teams are currently shooting around on the Civic Center floor.
. . . Hang Time broke up the trip from Boston with a stop at Jeff Goodman’s National Prep Showcase, being held this year at Asumption College in Worcester. The field was loaded and included highly touted Michael Beasley (Notre Dame Prep, committed to Kansas State) and South Kent’s Matthew Bryan-Amaning (committed to Washington), among other super stud recruits.
HARTFORD - Welcome to the Hartford Civic Center for the final game of the three day, six-game, round-robin Hispanic College Fund Classic between host, UConn (No. 21, AP/No. 19, ESPN/USAT) and Ole Miss.
Fairfield and Central Arkansas are just finishing up their 5:30 contest, with the home-state Stags holding a 44-43 lead with under a minute left.
The Civic Center is still mostly empty, but the parking lots and streets around the arena are starting to fill up for the 8 p.m. tip-off (ESPNU with Joe Tessitore on play-by-play and Doug Gottlieb on color).
Both Ole Miss and UConn are undefeated entering the contest, having each beaten Central Arkansas and Fairfield this weekend (Ole Miss, 4-0, came to Hartford with two wins over Mississippi Valley State and Louisiana-Lafayette; UConn, 3-0, had beaten Quinnipiac).
When asked which of his team’s two headline-grabbing preseason honors was more gratifying -- Pitt’s selection as league champ or Aaron Gray’s selection as Player of the Year -- Jamie Dixon paused to consider the question before choosing his seven-footer’s individual accolade.
“Aaron’s is probably more gratifying because of how he’s become the Big East Preseason Player of the Year,” Dixon said. “If you look back at the guys who have been Preseason Player of the Year, I don’t see anybody who’s come from where he’s come as far as a high school player and also his development.”
When it comes to programs around the nation positioned for a potential breakthrough this season, DePaul has been one of the most frequently cited candidates.
Aside from returning all five starters from last year’s team, the Blue Demons are the only group in the conference to return four double-figure scorers. DePaul seemed to play much better toward the end of their first Big East go-round last year -- culminating with a 108-69 thumping of eventual league tourney champ Syracuse on Mar. 2.
Though each year is a snapshot unto itself, Wainwright is counting on his veteran team’s ability to carry over the momentum.
That Villanova would be without All-American guards Randy Foye and Allan Ray for the 2006-07 season was never any surprise to supporters of the program. But since rough-and-tumble guard Kyle Lowry left school following his sophomore season for the NBA draft last June, Nova Nation has been somewhat uneasy about the team’s immediate future.
Will Sheridan, one of two starters returning to the Main Line and the “other guy” in last year’s vaunted four-guard offense, has one message for the Villanova faithful: Fear not.
Twelve months ago, the Wildcats lost Curtis Sumpter -- a Preseason Big East Player of the Year candidate that was widely considered Villanova’s most important contributor -- to a knee injury during the first week of practice. Rather than pack it in, Jay Wright’s team would circle the wagons and establish a school record for most victories in a season on its way to the first No. 1 seed in program history and an Elite Eight appearance.
It's been a whirlwind couple of years in Morgantown, what with West Virginia making deadly serious challenges for the last two national championships. Two years ago, the Mountaineers came this close to taking down Louisville in the Elite Eight. Last year, John Beilein’s club advanced to the Sweet 16 before bowing to Texas at the buzzer.
But with the Perfect Storm class of Mike Gansey, Kevin Pittsnogle, J.D. Collins, Joe Herber and Patrick Beilein having graduated, the Mountaineers return just two players who averaged more than four minutes a game.
“Here we have a team that’s picked 12th,” Beilein said to a throng of about a dozen writers. “Four years ago, we came in here and I think we talked to one or two reporters the entire time that we were here.”
Pittsburgh has taken center stage at the Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Here at Big East media day, the Panthers were selected by the league's head coaches to win the conference championship for just the third time in league history. Seven-footer Aaron Gray, Pitt's linchpin in the pivot, was named Preseason Player of the Year.
The Panthers were also chosen to take home the title in 1987-88 and 2002-03. Both times, they would make good on the preseason prediction and win the regular-season championship.