Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Legends Classic: Ray Floriani's Photo Essay

BROOKLYN, NY - NJ Transit is a mode of transportation I am familiar with. On the subway, I am still a rookie even entering a third year traveling to the Barclays Center. Getting on the No. 3 train at Penn station, there is a young lady in an Oregon sweatshirt. I was sure she was a student going to Barclays to cheer on the ducks who were facing VCU in the consolation game. “I don't go to Oregon,” she replied. “I applied but didn't get in.” At least she assured me the No. 3 train would stop at Barclays.
The Oregon-clad lady was right and the third place game was in order. Roughly 24 hours earlier, VCU had a tough time with Villanova. The Rams led early in the second half, only to see Villanova go on a game sealing 16-0 run.

Quite simply, the way VCU responded told us a lot about Shaka Smart's team. In a game of spurts, the Rams gained the proverbial separation the final ten minutes en route to a 77-63 victory. Coming back after that disheartening loss, getting prepared and coming out with intensity was not only impressive, but something VCU can build on as the season progresses and they aim for an Atlantic Ten title a few months away on this same floor.

Oregon finished 0-2. Coach Dana Altman saw positives for his young team and a number of things that need correcting. But that is the beauty of these early season affairs. Test yourself against top flight competition and address what needs fixing before the conference season is underway. A win or two in the process, all the better.

Outside Barclays Center on Atlantic Avenue:
Only in Brooklyn: The concession stand at Barclays Center has a full bar:
Right across from a candy store:
VCU coaches, under the direction of Shaka Smart, huddle at halftime outside the locker room:
The VCU style of play, what they want to create, is spelled out:
The veritable Ronnie Weintraub busy crunching numbers at halftime:
Brandon Cruz, a fellow officiating camp attendee and good officiating friend I have had the pleasure of working with. Brandon worked VCU vs. Oregon with Robert Riley and Jim Bruno:

Could Pecora's long road at Fordham be nearing its end?

Tom Pecora was at a loss for words following Fordham's loss to UMass Lowell, a sign that Rams' fifth-year coach may have reached end of his rope at Rose Hill. (Photo courtesy of Ray Floriani)

Eighty-seven times before, Tom Pecora had done his best to explain a Fordham loss, an occurrence that happened frequently even before his arrival from Hofstra nearly five years ago. Usually, these setbacks were defended with a number of rebuttals, ranging from the youth of the Ram roster to what he cited as "residue of losing" following a late-season loss to VCU last year.

The Rams' most recent defeat, an empty-handed 64-57 decision against a UMass Lowell program just two years removed from making the jump to Division I that served as the 88th notation of the letter "L" on the Fordham ledger in the coach's four-plus-year regime, may have been his most devastating.

"Well, guys, that was embarrassing," Pecora disgustedly offered upon his entrance into the Rose Hill Gym media room. "This is not a good one, I'm not going to lie to you."

One thing Pecora has almost always been in nearly five years of covering him, aside from being more accessible than other coaches at programs of equal or greater prestige in the area, is up front to those who cover him. When asked a hard question, he will give an honest answer whenever he can, something that has always been appreciated.

When it comes to realizing whether he may have bitten off more than he could chew upon coming to Fordham, however, Pecora has been hard-pressed to find an explanation as he searches; not yet in vain, but sometimes desperately, to turn the fortunes of a program that has been seemingly moribund for decades in a positive direction once and for all. The Rams have gone through the wringer in almost every way possible, from back-to-back 44-point losses in Pecora's second season; which also included a 34-point thrashing against a Manhattan team in its first season under Steve Masiello, to the inexplicable bloodletting on the road against Dayton and La Salle the following year, to the 46-point massacre at Madison Square Garden against St. John's last December. This does not include the numerous close losses against teams such as Butler, Saint Joseph's, Richmond, and George Washington. Nor does it take into consideration last November's letdown, ironically one year to the day of the UMass Lowell deflation, against a Sacred Heart team that entered winless and was not expected to do much under a rookie head coach in Anthony Latina.

While the talent level at Rose Hill has progressively risen with the signings of players such as Chris Gaston and Branden Frazier, who helped shepherd Pecora's transition from the chaos that was rampant following the firing of Dereck Whittenburg, to more recent coups in Jon Severe and Eric Paschall; not to mention diamonds in the rough the likes of Mandell Thomas and Ryan Rhoomes, the anticipated improvement in Fordham's bottom line has not. Some may credit the stagnant win-loss record to the coach specifically, but in Pecora's defense, that is only part of the issue. A confluence of factors stemming from an Atlantic 10 that has been stronger than ever before and the perceived criticism of Fordham's facilities, something the coach has openly admitted works against him in recruiting on multiple occasions, even back in 2012 when the Rams played at Barclays Center for the first time, are just as much contributing factors as what some view as a stubborn unwillingness on the part of Pecora to adapt his three-guard system predicated on moving ball screens to better suit his talent, as Gary Moore chronicled in this piece for The College Hardwood last season.

Fordham's most rabid supporters have been vocal and critical of Pecora for years now, and in the aftermath of the Rams' latest near-miss Sunday night, flooded the basketball message board with calls for his head, with the majority of fans calling for none other than Mike Rice. Yes, THAT Mike Rice, the same Mike Rice who threw basketballs at his players at Rutgers while at the same time verbally abusing them, to be the interim replacement. Rice has not yet earned the right to return to the coaching ranks, and an institution such as Fordham would probably consider several other candidates before him despite Rice's standing as an alumnus, but the fact that there is a group out there vocally clamoring for him to save the Rams' season should be a haunting indicator of Pecora's future.

Watching Pecora closely on Sunday, it seemed as though he was resigned to his fate a little more than he may have been in past games and past seasons. Through most of the second half of Sunday's loss, he remained stationary at the edge of the Fordham bench, with his body language suggesting he was powerless to stop what was proceeding in front of him. In addition, sophomore guard Jon Severe's start to the season has been enough to land the Rams' second-leading scorer from last season on the proverbial milk carton, only scoring five points in 39 minutes through three games after being suspended for the season opener against Division II foe NYIT.

Over the past two seasons of covering Fordham basketball and watching the cries to the Fordham administration for a change of direction, Pecora could be let off the hook after a while for most of the losses that caused his approval rating among fans and boosters to slide to the George W. Bush-esque lows that were seen in the waning moments of the former President's second term in the White House. This past Sunday looks to be the straw that broke the camel's back. While Fordham will most likely wait until the end of the season to make a decision on the course of leadership for its men's basketball program, the fair and right thing to do seeing as how a midseason coaching change would only torpedo the standing of the program in the eyes of recruits, media and competitors alike. However, their most recent impression may just be the beginning of the end for Tom Pecora, who is running out of chances to get the turnaround he was hired to skipper.

Villanova holds off Michigan to win Legends; VCU third

The scene during Villanova-Michigan. Photo by Jason Schott.
By Jason Schott of BrooklynFans.com - Daly Dose of Hoops Contributor - @JESchott19

The Villanova Wildcats, ranked 14th in the nation, won the Progressive Legends Classic on Tuesday night at Barclays Center with a 60-55 win over #19 Michigan 60-55. VCU beat Oregon 77-63 in the Consolation Game.

VILLANOVA 77, MIGHIGAN 63

This was a tight game from the start, and Michigan had a 20-18 lead on a Caris LeVert three-pointer with 7:17 left in the first half. Villanova shut them out the rest of the way and took a 27-20 lead into halftime.

They then opened the second half on a 6-0 run, capped by a JayVaughn Pinkston dunk with 17:52 left in the second half. Michigan got their first basket of the second half on a Zak Irvin jumper at the 17:23 mark. That broke an extended scoreless streak by Michigan of 9 minutes and 54 seconds.

That started a big run by Michigan to take a 43-38 lead on a Kameron Chatman jumper with 9:02 left. Michigan expanded that lead to eight, at 51-43, on a Derrick Walton, Jr., jumper with 5:59 left. Villanova responded with a 9-0 run, with threes from Ryan Arcidiacono and Dylan Ennis and capped by a Josh Hart free throw with 2:03 left that made it 52-51 Villanova. LeVert made back-to-back jumpers to give them a 55-54 lead with 58 seconds left.

The final minute belonged to Pinkston, who is a Brooklyn native. He hit a jumper with 16 seconds left to give them a 56-55 lead and then blocked an Irvin layup with 4 seconds left. Arcidiacono hit four free throws after that to give Villanova the 60-55 win.

Villanova was led by Dylan Ennis, who had 15 points on 6-for-10 from the field and 3-for-6 on three-pointers.Daniel Ochefu had 10 points and 4 rebounds. Pinkston had 8 points and 9 rebounds, falling just short of a double-double.

Michigan was led by LeVert, who had 16 points and 6 rebounds.Irvin had 11 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists. Walton had 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists.

VCU 77, OREGON 63

VCU Head Coach Shaka Smart looks on as they set up their offense. Photo by Jason Schott

VCU's HAVOC defense was in full force from the beginning of this one, as they held Oregon scoreless for the first 4 minutes and 27 seconds. VCU jumped out to a 12-0 lead in that time, but Oregon battled back and pulled within two, at 27-25, on a three from Dillon Brooks at the 4:10 mark of the first half.

VCU responded with an 8-0 run capped by a layup from Mo Alie-Cox with 17 seconds left. Oregon's Jalil Abdul-Bassit hit a jumper with 4 seconds left cut VCU's lead to 35-27 at halftime.

Oregon came out firing in the second half, starting out with an 11-4 run that cut VCU's lead to 39-38 at the 14:14 mark of the second half. Briante Weber got a three-point play to start a 6-0 VCU run to make it 45-38 at the 11:43 mark. VCU was in control from then on, and went up 11, at 59-48, on a Treveon Graham layup with 6:54 left. Oregon got as close as six points, at 67-61, with 3:36 left, but VCU responded with an 8-0 run capped by an Alie-Cox layup with 40 seconds left that made it 75-61 VCU. All five of VCU's starters scored in double figures.

Melvin Johnson led the way with 19 points on 7-for-13 from the field and 3-for-6 on three-pointers, with 4 rebounds and 3 assists. Graham had 13 points on 5-for-7 from the field and 1-2 on threes, with 4 rebounds. Jordan Burgess had 12 points and 7 rebounds. Weber had a double-double with 11 points and 10 assists, and notched 4 rebounds. Alie-Cox had 10 points and 5 rebounds.

VCU head coach Shaka Smart said of having five starters in double figures, "It depends on the game, but we certainly have a lot of guys who are capable of getting double figures, not just our starting lineup. It's good to have balance because we can't just focus on one guy. I thought last night Villanova put a lot of emphasis on Mel and on Tre, and that's what a lot of teams are going to do because they are probably our two best scorers. But I thought that Jordan, Mo, and Briante - those guys stepped up and JeQuan (Lewis) played much better. But as Melvin said, it starts on defense. We need to continue to get better on defense. I thought overall, we played with great effort, but tonight, we are still not at the level that we want. I think that our guys, on the quick turnaround, did a really good job locking in on what we needed to do."

Smart said of the game, "Our guys did a great job following the plan that we put in place. Obviously it was a quick turnaround coming off of last night's game. We talked about Oregon this morning, and what we would need to do against them. At the end of the day, these two guys (Burgess and Johnson) along with the other guys that played big minutes, made a lot of 'toughness' plays and that made the difference for us."

VCU shot 50 percent from the field, or 28 of 56 shot attempts. They held Oregon to just 37.5 percent, or 21-for-56, from the field.

The super band from VCU conducted by Superman. Photo by Jason Schott.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Villanova, Michigan winners to open Legends Classic

VCU hoists up a three. Photo by Jason Schott.
By Jason Schott  of BrooklynFans.com - Daly Dose of Hoops Contributor - @JESchott19

Villanova beat VCU with a strong second half performance and Michigan outlasted Oregon on Monday night in the opening of the Progressive Legends Classic at Barclays Center. On Tuesday night, VCU will meet Oregon at 7:30 in the Consolation Game, followed by Villanova and Michigan in the Championship Game at 10:00 pm.

VILLANOVA 77, VCU 53
The first half was a very intense, tight affair, and Villanova took a 32-30 lead into halftime. VCU scored the first six points of the second half to take a 36-32 lead at the 18:41 mark. Villanova responded with a mammoth 16-0 run, with Darrun Hilliard scoring 5 points in the span and it was capped by a Josh Hart three-point play at the 16:18 mark that made it 48-36.

Villanova kept it up and took a 16-point lead when Kris Jenkins, who was fouled on a three-point attempt, made three free throws to make it 57-41 at the 13:18 mark. They expanded that lead to 20, at 69-49, on a Hilliard three with 6:25 left, and a Hilliard lay-up gave them their biggest lead, 24, at 77-53 with 2:03 left, and that would be the final score.

JayVaughn Pinkston led the way for Villanova with 15 points and 7 rebounds. Hilliard had 14 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds. Kris Jenkins had 13 points off the bench and Josh Hart had 10 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals.

VCU was led by Melvin Johnson and Briante Weber, who had 13 points each, while Mo Alie-Cox had 10 points and 4 rebounds.

Villanova head coach Jay Wright said of the win, "Great game for us. We've had a few games that we didn't quite do everything right, tonight we made good shots. They are a very, very good team. It was a privilege for us to get that test this early against a team like that. The way the play just tests all your concepts, it tests your will, your stamina, and conditioning. We saw that on our schedule and we thought great - we'll know where we are. We all know this could have been 20 points the other way. I really admire the way Shaka runs the team and his program."

On team goals, Wright said, "We have been very fortunate to have this group of guys. The seniors demand focus of everyone around them. It is a joy to coach them. Now they're 21 and 22 years old, and that can change instantly, so we have to stay committed, we have to stay hungry. We have to keep working."

Pinkston, a Brooklyn native, said of playing in his home borough, "Coach and I talked about me coming up to play in New York, and play in front of my family. Remember to focus on defense and that's what I did the first couple of plays."

"We came out aggressive on defense," he continued. We were getting shots, keeping the ball moving ahead to the forwards, and making plays. We just have to continue and get better every day."

VCU head coach Shaka Smart said of the game, "Congrats to Villanova. I thought they played really hard and it showed a lot of poise all game long. In the second half, they really got it going. They made some great plays off the dribble and made some timely three's to extend the lead. I thought our energy was really good coming out of halftime, but after that initial six point run we had, we didn't get stops. You can't win games against anyone, particularly against a quality team like Villanova, if you can't stop them. Over one stretch, they scored five or six times in a row and then eight or so times out of ten. It's unacceptable. It's a painful reminder that we need to get better on defense."

On Villanova breaking the VCU press, Smart said, "They have sound ball handlers, they passed the ball well. I think it's a combination of the talent they have in terms of those things. They pass it well and they don't make unforced turnovers. We were not ourselves in terms of pressuring the ball, closing down traps, getting our hands on the basketball, flying around the way we need to fly around. You combine those things and that's why they had single digit turnovers."

The VCU band is always a highlight wherever they play. Photo by Jason Schott.
MICHIGAN 70, OREGON 63
Michigan had a dominant first half, and took a 33-27 lead into halftime. In the second half, Oregon tied it at 40 on a three-point play by Elgin Cook with 13:45 left. Michigan responded with an 8-0 run, which included four points from Zak Irvin and was capped by a layup by Derrick Walton, Jr. Oregon pulled back to within a point, at 56-55, on a Dillon Brooks dunk with 4:09 remaining. Michigan never gave up the lead down the stretch, and an Irvin three-pointer with 1:25 left made it 64-59 Michigan, and that sealed the win.

Michigan's Caris LeVert bringing the ball up. Photo by Jason Schott.
Michigan was led by Irvin, who had 19 points and 5 rebounds, and Caris LeVert had 18 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists. Ricky Doyle had 10 points and 3 rebounds off the bench.
Oregon was led by Joseph Young, who had 20 points, 3 assists, and 2 rebounds. Brooks had 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists. Cook had 13 points and 6 rebounds. Dwayne Benjamin had 8 points and 11 rebounds.

Michigan head coach John Beilein said of the game, "I have to applaud Oregon. They played so hard, they did a great job. Few times you will see someone give up 18 offensive rebounds and still get a 'W.' We did enough things to win the game. Low turnovers, got to the foul line, made some really big plays down the stretch and we shot the ball better in the second half from the perimeter. Ricky stepped forward tonight, Caris got a lot of things dialed up to him down the stretch and we did enough to get the 'W.'"

Oregon head coach Dana Altman said of his team's performance, "I thought we went to the boards pretty hard. We showed some aggressiveness, but we had a lot of wasted possessions offensively and did not execute what we wanted to. A lot of that was Michigan, but it also was our lack of organization. So, I was disappointed with the way our offense ran."

Monday, November 24, 2014

Rutgers/Saint Peter's matchup a reunion of sorts for Dalip Bhatia

For Dalip Bhatia, Tuesday's matchup with Saint Peter's pits Rutgers' director of basketball operations against his mentor, John Dunne. (Photo courtesy of the Newark Star-Ledger)

For the second straight season, Rutgers and Saint Peter's will feature more than just one common thread when the two programs face off in Piscataway Tuesday night.

Aside from their status as Garden State rivals, the Scarlet Knights and Peacocks share a familiar name on the bench in the form of Dalip Bhatia, Rutgers' director of basketball operations who cut his teeth in the Division I ranks for five years as an assistant to John Dunne at Saint Peter's before returning to his alma mater shortly after Eddie Jordan was hired to replace Mike Rice.

"When the opportunity arose, it was definitely something I was interested in," Bhatia said with regard of joining the Rutgers staff in May of 2013. "I'm excited for what's going on at Rutgers under Coach Jordan's leadership, and I'm just grateful that he's allowing me to be a part of his program and helping him build the program through class, integrity and character, with dedicated student-athletes."

"I'm just grateful that I've been able to learn, both from Coach Dunne and from Coach Jordan, how to build a program," Bhatia recalled when comparing his tenure at Saint Peter's to his current atmosphere at Rutgers, "but the one clear similarity between both of them is doing it with integrity and character and finding dedicated student-athletes who want to succeed in the classroom, want to build a championship-caliber program, and want to be good citizens in the community and on campus."

Yet in an industry where some up-and-coming coaches sometimes forget their roots as they ascend the ladder, Bhatia is an exception, a humble upstart who proudly reminds everyone of who gave him his first shot.

"One of the things I always had in my back pocket is that I always had Coach Dunne's support to pursue that opportunity," Bhatia proclaimed of his mentor, who will lead Saint Peter's into battle against Rutgers, where his former assistant is now firmly entrenched in his latest stop on a road to stardom. "He obviously gave me a very strong recommendation, and I'm very grateful for him helping me through that process."

"I'm grateful to Coach Dunne for giving me the opportunity to be a Division I assistant, teaching me the business and really preparing me for the opportunity at Rutgers. He gave me a lot of responsibility, pushed me to be a good Division I assistant. He had me well prepared to move on to the next step in my coaching career."

In five years in Jersey City, Dunne not only guided Bhatia through his formative years as an assistant coach, but more importantly, instilled a sense of knowing just how involved of a process winning can be at the Division I level, as Saint Peter's gradually went from the cellar of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference to a contender, with the highwater mark of Bhatia's tenure on the Peacocks' bench being a MAAC championship and NCAA Tournament appearance in 2011.

While on Dunne's staff, Bhatia helped recruit the Peacocks' current core, led by seniors Desi Washington, Marvin Dominique and Jamel Fields, all of whom he remains close to as the trio attempt to return Saint Peter's to the MAAC's elite, along with reigning league powerhouses Iona and Manhattan.

"My last year there was Desi's first year playing after sitting out, and Marvin and Jamel redshirted," Bhatia stated, "and I'm just very lucky that I got to work out with those guys and really help them individually with extra skill development. I'm just happy to see those guys have success going into their senior year, I know they won seven of ten to close out last season, and they've got a very talented group with a couple of really good players in Marvin and Desi, who I'm very close with, so I'm happy to see the success they're going to have as individuals and as a team as the year progresses."

All familiarity aside, though, Bhatia recognizes the job that must still be done Tuesday night, offering a realistic summary of his family reunion, so to speak.

"To be honest, it's just another game," he advised. "I think in the coaching profession, you're always facing friends, obviously Coach Dunne is a very good friend of mine, a mentor that I rely on for guidance, and I'm still very close with a lot of the guys on the team there; I helped recruit them, coach them, and obviously, I want them to succeed, but to me, it's just another game. All of us will shake hands and give hugs to each other before the game and after the game, but when the ball tips, I'm sure all the players, all the players and both coaching staffs, want to win."

"I'm sure Coach Dunne is going to have his guys prepared, and I know Coach Jordan is going to have our guys prepared. I think they'll come out, it'll be a war right from the tip, and as a Rutgers Scarlet Knight, I'm looking forward to a win for the Scarlet Knights, and hope that everyone has a safe and healthy game."

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Hofstra routs Wagner behind Green's double-double

Juan'ya Green's 24 rebounds and 11 assists were key for Hofstra in 93-71 thrashing of Wagner. (Photo courtesy of Big Apple Buckets)

BY JOE PANTORNO

Anyone who has watched a Joe Mihalich coached team knows that he likes his sides to run and to run fast. Hofstra was able to do just that as a pesky defense created 17 Wagner turnovers, allowing Juan’ya Green and company to run the floor at will in a 93-71 victory over Wagner on Sunday night.

The win is Hofstra’s second in three nights after a last-second victory over Long Island rival Stony Brook on Friday night.

“We did what we had to do,” Mihalich said. “You worry a little bit about the quick turnaround, we only had one day to prepare for these guys and a little bit of a hangover, because we had such a great, exciting win…our guys really answered the bell.”

Green led the way with a double-double of 24 points on nine shots and 11 assists, providing the quintessential display of a ‘run and gun’ mentality. The junior guard had a hand in over half of his team’s points.

“I’m just trying to be consistent and efficient,” Green said. “Just making sure I take the right shots while making plays for my teammates.”

Starting his second season at Hofstra (3-1), Mihalich revels in the presence of Green, who transferred over from Niagara with the Pride’s coach, to help institute his system.

“You sleep a lot better at night with someone like Juan’ya on your team,” Mihalich said. “He’s efficient. I mean, look at the stats, he took just nine shots…I’m a lucky guy to be his coach and I think his teammates love playing with him.”

Mihalich’s other Niagara transfer, junior guard Ameen Tanksley kept up just nicely with Green and showing off his skill from three-point range, recording 17 points with all five of his field goals coming from beyond the arc.

Wagner (1-3) has now lost three of its first four games this season as they have yet to beat a Division I opponent. Aaren Edmead led the way for the Seahawks with 15 points for a side that just could not break down Hofstra’s defensive strategy.

“We just have young guys and we want to play fast,” Wagner head coach Bashir Mason said. “These guys get caught up in playing fast versus playing smart.”

While Wagner tried to play a physical brand to compliment the speed to try and slow Hofstra down a bit, the Pride’s pace was too much.

“Yeah [we like to get out and run],” Green said. “But I also try to calm my teammates down when we make a lot of mistakes.”

Freshman forward Rokas Gustys paced Hofstra at the start with all six of his points in the game’s first four minutes as he was finding success down low with relative ease. He saw a lot of the bench after his hot start established a comfortable lead.

“One of the best things about tonight was that we were able to rest Rokas tonight,” Mihalich said. “He has a bit of a sore leg so we were able to give him very few minutes.”

Good looks were plentiful as Hofstra was taking advantage of quick ball movement, hitting six of their first nine shots. While the three-pointer was not quite right on Friday against Stony Brook, two straight from Nesmith and Tanksley sparked a Hofstra 13-2 run, capped off by a three-point (lay-up and one) play on the fast break by Green.

Green put on a show in the first half with 14 first quarter points hitting all five shots from the field.

The play quickly shifted from down low to outside as the three-pointer was continuing to work for Hofstra, shooting 5-7 in the first half from deep, they shot 72.7 percent (16-22) from the field to overshadow a 50 percent effort from Wagner.

Hofstra really put the pedal to the medal in the last four minutes of the half, causing four consecutive Wagner turnovers when they shifted to a full court press, opening up a 47-30 lead at halftime.

“We were really aggressive defensively,” Mihalich said. “We had a couple lulls in the second half, they were in that frantic mode…we could have handled it a little better, but we’re moving on.”

Wagner answered a second half start in which it shot 2-12 by hitting 5-7 to make sure their deficit did not worsen, but Hofstra remained aggressive, maintaining its pace despite a spell of sloppy play. 

“To be honest, the guys who made [shots] weren’t making them in other games,” Mason said. “We wanted to limit their penetrations and make them beat us with jump shots…they [Hofstra] were just on fire.”

Sophomore forward Jamall Robinson added 13 points in the win while freshman forward Andre Walker led all players with 10 rebounds.

UMass Lowell 64, Fordham 57: Quotes, Takeaways & Nuggets

Fordham head coach Tom Pecora's opening statement:
"Well, guys, that was embarrassing. They're a young team who played extremely hard, and obviously, they played with a chip on their shoulder and they had a lot to prove. I just told our group we will, my job is to make sure we have a spirited practice tomorrow, and if these guys learn how to compete and play against smaller, tougher players, because that's what we came across. We came across guys that were undersized, but I think that was the epitome of 'it's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.' They just wanted it more than we did, you know, we dominated them on the glass, we fell in love, for whatever reason, we fell in love with the three-pointer. We were 3-of-6 in the beginning of the game, and like a young, immature team; which is what we're playing like, and our veterans have got to help us in the process of maturing these guys, you know, we fell in love with the three, we wound up shooting 27 three-pointers. Granted, four or five at the end in the last two minutes, you're trying to play catch-up, but see, that's not the way this team is built. We're not that great a shooting team, we're decent, and our good shooters are struggling. Jon Severe hasn't been making shots. Eric Paschall didn't make shots the last two games, and look, it's his second college game or third college game, but half your field goals can't come from three when you're that size. But it's on me. I've got to find a way to get these guys motivated and get these guys, get Bryan Smith and Mandell Thomas and Ryan Rhoomes leading this group, along with myself, obviously. So, the burden, when we lose, it's me, and you know, this is not a good one. I'm not going to lie to you. I thought it was a game, we played poorly in the first half, and at halftime, I was saying to myself, 'well, I'm glad we got that out of our system,' and we came off a game at Maryland where we played really hard and really well, and none of that tonight. I didn't see the intensity, I didn't see the toughness, so hopefully it's a lesson learned to these young players, but winning Division I basketball games against anybody is a tough thing, and if winning was easy, everybody would do it. I tell the team that all the time. They let them take the fight to us after the initial. Once again, we jump out on people, and as an immature team, I think we think 'alright, we got this one in the bag, we're up 11-3 or whatever,' and then we go to the bench and boom, they make a run back at us, so we've got a lot of growing up to do. We've got a lot of growing up to do. That's it. Your thoughts?"

On Eric Paschall and whether he might be getting trigger happy from three-point range:
"Very much so. Without a doubt. I said to him, 'look, you've got a chance to be a big time player. You're bailing teams out by jacking up those threes, you know?' and when he gets a good look at them and he's patient and he's in stride, it's one thing, but, you know, our shot selection was atrocious, and that's why we shot 34 percent."

On why he said this loss was embarrassing:
"Well, I just, look, my teams, I've always had teams that played hard and competed, and I didn't feel like we played hard enough tonight, and we didn't compete hard enough, and that...nothing strikes a chord with me, or any coach in my opinion, more than that, so that's what we need to do. We need to realize that, you know, you're not going to get what you want out of life, you're going to get what you deserve, and we didn't deserve to win tonight. They did, because they kept hanging around, hanging around, and I think in the back of our guys' minds, we were like 'alright, alright, we'll make some shots, we'll make some shots.' It's an immature way to look at the game, and I've got to get them old. That's my job. With seven freshmen, I've got to get them old and I've got to get more from Rhoomes, and more from Thomas, and more from Smith, because those are the three veterans, so they've got to demand more as well. You know, Ryan Rhoomes had a double-double, but in the first half, he didn't get a whole lot done at all, you know? So, if he plays like that in the first half, heck, we've probably got an eight or ten-point lead in the first half. And then we missed eight free throws. We shoot damn near 90 percent from the foul line every day in practice, and then we miss eight free throws, and look, you can make excuses. I'm not making excuses. You could say 'they're young,' you could say blah, blah, blah, 'come on,' all that nonsense. Players play, man. Players play. I've coached freshmen that have dominated games."

On Jon Severe's slump being a cause for concern:
"Yeah, he's got to make some shots and he's got to stop turning the ball over. When you look at his numbers overall, you know, he's got to just...the only way you get out of a shooting slump is working. So, what do you do? I would hope he would be in the gym tonight after everyone gets out of here. They can be in this gym until midnight. I would hope he'd be in here shooting a couple of hundred jumpers with a teammate or with the gun, and that goes for a number of the guys. The only way you get out of slumps, in any sport; you take more BP in baseball, you just live in the cage and you get your mechanics down. Well, it's no different shooting a basketball, so you know, I tell them all the time; and this is the God's honest truth: I don't just decide who plays, they do. So after practice each day, my staff and I watch practice separately and come together as a group and discuss practice, and who's playing well and who deserves minutes and all of those things, so you know, you want to get on the floor, you've got to perform every day in practice, and that'll get you more minutes. Jon got 17 minutes tonight, you know? I'd like him and all the other guards, in a perfect world, they'd all be playing about 25 minutes a game, but the bottom line is, who are you going to go to? With the exception of, I mean, guys, we shot 34 percent. Rhoomes, you know, Paschall was 7-for-16, everybody else was 3-of-7, 3-of-8, 3-of-11, Mandell Thomas. Alright, that's back-to-back games now he's like 6-for-31 or 7-for-31, something like that. You've got to make shots, you've got to make plays, you've got to finish."

On Ryan Rhoomes and his expectations with Ryan Canty out for the season:
"Yeah, we need a lot, and tonight's a tough game for (Dekeba) Battie because they're so small, you know? We played a little bit of zone when they were out there, but they went on a stretch where they missed jumpers in the zone, we weren't able to come down and score. They went on a stretch where they missed free throws, we weren't able to come down and score, and you know, the most important statistic at the end of a game is obviously offensive field goal percentage."

On frustration of not being able to take care of "the little things" in a game:
"Well, look: The bottom line is if you make free throws, if you make layups and you don't turn the ball over, you're going to win a lot of basketball games; and we missed layups, we missed free throws, and we turned the ball over. That's why we didn't win tonight. The glaring stat is the turnovers, you know, and Zarkovic; who just played great against a Big Ten team in Maryland, I think he had one, two turnovers? And you know, to come in tonight and have six at home against a team from a lower level conference, you can't have it. Can't have it. And once again, always a freshman. Eric Paschall, five turnovers. Always a freshman. So what? So what? They're the best players, that's why they're on the floor. They're outplaying other people in practice, so they've got to respond. But you're right, those are the little things that matter. If you hold a team, they shot 42 percent; 36 in the first half, 48 in the second. If you hold a team to 42 percent from the floor, and you outrebound them by 14, you should win the basketball game. The only way you can't is by turning the basketball over, and you know, 18 turnovers did that, so that took care of that."

On whether tonight's game was a must-win situation:
"In their eyes or mine? I mean, we look at the game differently, obviously, but I mean, look: Maybe we learned to lose this week, you know what I mean? That's one of the issues with going and playing games like that, but you've got to be resilient enough to build off it, and now we have the opportunity to put it behind us and, every game's a must-win in my eyes. Must-win? S***, come on! You've got to go out and you've got to win every game. It's not okay to lose. You never want to do that, and at the end of the year, games balance out. You think 'oh, we're gonna get this one and we're not gonna get this one,' it never plays out that way, so you've got to bring it every night. That's what college basketball is all about."

Nuggets of Note:
- UMass Lowell, in just their second season at the Division I level, showed their inconsistencies despite landing four players in double figures. The River Hawks were outrebounded 52-38, and shot 7-of-26 from the free throw line, good enough for 27 percent.

- Fordham managed only five field goals in the final 14:33 of the game, and of those five, three of them were stat-padding baskets for Eric Paschall in the final 1:42. That adds up to a stretch of 12:51 were a Jon Severe teardrop floater and a Christian Sengfelder mid-range jumper. UMass Lowell went on a 24-11 run in that span, with seven of the Rams' 11 points coming at the foul line.

- Despite UMass Lowell playing carelessly through most of the night, the River Hawks only turned the ball over eight times, and forced 18 Fordham miscues. Forward Kerry Weldon, who at 6-5 was the America East school's tallest starter, ended the evening with 12 points and seven rebounds on 6-of-11 shooting.

- After missing the season opener against NYIT due to a violation of team rules, Jon Severe's season stats read like this: 39 minutes, 2-for-13 from the field, 0-for-5 from three-point range, 1-for-3 at the free throw line, seven rebounds, five fouls, one assist, seven turnovers, four steals; and most importantly, only five points. Severe, the 2013 New York State Mr. Basketball, who has been subject to transfer rumors and chastised for having maturity issues more often than not, was expected to be the biggest piece of the puzzle for the Rams, yet is; for all intents and purposes, the sixth or seventh man, for what appears to be a multitude of reasons.

- Finally, November 23 was once again unkind to Fordham, as tonight's defeat was played out on the one-year anniversary of the Rams dropping an 85-73 contest to a then-winless Sacred Heart team that many had expected would serve as a doormat for Fordham, whose next contest would be the "Battle of the Bronx" at Draddy Gymnasium against Manhattan, a game the Rams ultimately won behind Branden Frazier, who is greatly missed in this lineup not just for his scoring punch, but also for his discipline on both sides of the ball. Without him, Fordham looked like a CYO team that had difficulty getting out of its own way on more than one occasion tonight. Some may blame it on youth, some may blame it on coaching, but at the end of the day, there is more than one thing wrong with this team, and it might take the rest of the year to figure it out.

Ryan Canty to medical redshirt for Fordham, return next year

Ryan Canty will miss remainder of season for Fordham and return next year after medical redshirt. (Photo courtesy of the New York Post)

Fordham's front line has become thinner for the short term, but its 2015-16 look took a step in the right direction.

A Daly Dose Of Hoops has learned that senior forward Ryan Canty, who had missed each of the Rams' first three games while recovering from offseason back surgery, will be a medical redshirt this season and will miss the remainder of the 2014-15 year for Fordham after head coach Tom Pecora revealed the decision in his pregame interview with WFUV.

The 6-9 Canty, who averaged three points and six rebounds per game for the Rams last season, will return to Rose Hill for a fifth year, according to Pecora.

A Daly Dose Of Hoops will provide further details as they become available.


Bucknell 61, FDU 60: Ray Floriani's Photo Essay

Teaneck, NJ – On an afternoon when Bergen County in Northern New Jersey was inundated with Pre­-Black Friday shoppers, at Rothman Center it was basketball. The malls are within walking distance, but this day was reserved for women’s basketball.

FDU, off a tough loss to NJIT on Wednesday, was hosting Bucknell. The game itself played out as a close contest. It also served as a reminder of how the ebbs and flows of the game itself often change. Coaches are entrusted in ‘managing’ the game but in the end, players must execute and make plays.

FDU was defeated 61-­60 in overtime to drop to 1­-2. The Knights trailed early, overcame the deficit with some full court pressure, and owned an eight-point advantage down the stretch. Bucknell forced the extra session. FDU struck first, scoring the first four momentum-gaining points in the overtime period. Bucknell, (now 2­1 with all three games on the road) again dug deep and regained a lead they held on to.

The teams played to their strength, with the Bison size owning a 28­-10 points in the paint advantage. FDU, utilizing athleticism, forced 18 turnovers.

In the end, execution was the difference. A missed free throw by FDU and or inability to get a loose ball or prevent a second shot, these were the contributing factors. Again, a perfect example today of coaches managing but players having to execute.

FDU coach Pete Cinella surveys the action:
Joe Barrise, an officiating friend with whom I have enjoyed working with, worked the game with Theresa Funk and Kristie Mosley:
Amanda Andrades setting up the FDU offense:
Bucknell head coach Aaron Roussell on the sidelines while assistant Kate Adams also notices a detail needing attention:
FDU's Erika Livermore logged 40 minutes, and during a free throw, gets a much-needed; though short, break:
The FDU men practiced after the women's game. Captain Mustafaa Jones and head coach Greg Herenda were courtside to support the women:
Is it 824 or 825? Public address announcer Burt Shoobs puts the final touch on a consecutive game streak reaching over 800:

Duke, led by MVP Cook, wins Coaches vs. Cancer Classic

Duke setting up their offense. Pictures by Jason Schott
By Jason Schott of BrooklynFans.com - Daly Dose of Hoops Contributor - @JESchott19

The Duke Blue Devils beat the Stanford Cardinal 70-59 to win the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Barclays Center on Saturday night.

Quinn Cook at the bench after a big performance. 
Duke senior guard Quinn Cook won Most Valuable Player honors, as he scored 18 points on 5-for-12 and 4-for-9 from the three-point line, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds. Cook had 17 points, 5 rebounds, and an assist in their win Friday night over UNLV in the opening game of the tournament.

Duke also got contributions from Justise Winslow, a freshman forward, who had 14 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists; freshman center Jahlil Okafor had a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds; and sophomore guard Matt Jones had 10 points on 4-for-7 from the field, including 2-for-3 on threes, off the bench.

The game started off pretty even, with Duke clinging to a two-point lead for the opening ten minutes, then took a 28-21 lead on a Cook three with 7:33 left. Another Cook three at the 3:55 mark made it 35-25 Duke. The biggest lead Duke had was 13 points, at 40-27 with 37 seconds left, and a layup by Stanford's Stefan Nastic made it 40-29 Duke at the half.

Duke came out firing in the second half, and opened up a 15-point lead, 50-35, on a Cook three at the 15:49 mark. A jumper by Chasson Randle cut Duke's lead to 51-43 at the 10:57 mark, and Duke responded with a 10-2 run capped by a layup and a separate free throw from Okafor to make it 61-45 Duke with 5:48 remaining. The closest the Cardinal got the rest of the way was 11 points, at 65-54 on an Anthony Brown layup with 2:19 left, and the final score of 70-59.

Stanford was led by senior guard Randle, who had 22 points on 8-for-17 from the field and 2-7 on threes, with a rebound and a costly five turnovers. Nastic had a double double with 13 points and 13 rebounds, but shot a disappointing 5-for-15 from the field.

Duke Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski. 
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said of the game, "We're obviously extremely pleased to win the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. I thought our guys played really good defense again tonight. Our guys followed the lead of Quinn (Cook). He was a great leader for us and so was Amile (Jefferson). Amile was a warrior. We subbed him out because they were small and against the zone, Justise (Winslow) was a little bit better in the middle. Matt Jones was playing well. Matt came off the bench and gave us a big spark. I'm really proud of my team. It was a really good performance for us without it being pretty offensive. I liked the personality of our team."

Coach K said of Stanford, "They're such a well-coached team. They run a different offense - the triangle - and I thought that we defended that well. Then, they went to some alternate stuff." (Wonder if Stanford can go over to The Garden to teach the Triangle to the Knicks.)

Stanford Head Coach Johnny Dawkins, Stefan Nastic, and Chasson Randle.
Stanford head coach Johnny Dawkins played for and was an assistant coach for Krzyzewski, and he said of coaching against him, "It was difficult to compete against a friend and mentor. Of course, it was very awkward. You get so used to being on the same bench and then you are somewhere different. I don't think that's something you look forward to. That's why we don't schedule each other. It happens in tournaments where you can run into each other, but it's not something we intentionally try to do. I will always be proud that I was part of a (Duke) class that made such a contribution. I was fortunate to be there when it was just starting to form under Coach K's leadership. I wouldn't trade my place for anyone else's place because of all that we went through together."

Dawkins said of Jahlil Okafor, who had 10 points and 12 rebounds against his team, "Okafor is a great player. He's a force inside. We tried to give him as many different (defensive) looks as we possibly could...You just aren't going to completely stop him. He is too good a player."

Nastic said of playing Okafor, "Jahlil is a great player. We definitely prepared for him. You have to respect a guy that is that type of threat. I just tried to give my best effort."

CONSOLATION GAME: UNLV 57, TEMPLE 50
In the consolation game to open the doubleheader, UNLV beat Temple 57-50.

UNLV was led by sophomore forward Christian Wood, who had 18 points (8-15 FG, 1-2 on 3-pt) and 13 rebounds. Senior guard Cody Doolin had 10 points and 5 assists.

UNLV head coach Dave Rice said of the game, "It was a character win for us. We didn't play very well last night. Stanford played incredibly well. It was a quick turnaround, but I could tell last night at the hotel as we watched game film that our guys were focused and ready to go. I had a lot of confidence going into the game that we would play hard and (play) together."

Rice said of Wood, "I thought that Chris was extremely aggressive down the stretch and did a great job scoring the ball in the post and rebounding the ball as well."

Temple was led by senior guard Will Cummings, who had 21 points on 6-of-14 from the field and 2-of-3 on threes, with 7 rebounds and an assist.

Temple head coach Fran Dunphy said of the game. "I thought we challenged (UNLV's) shot blockers way too much. We didn't pay attention when we tried to drive and we should have kicked it out to open shooters. When we did have open looks we didn't knock them down. We had some shots that just didn't go in and they hit some big shots."

Temple shot just 15 percent in the second half, making just 5 of 33 shot attempts. Dunphy said of that, "We need to work a lot more on our offensive game. Duke was a very good defensive team and (UNLV) was very athletic. When we tried to get it to the rim, they were not allowing it. We were not careful enough with our shot selection. We need to step up and make shots when we get decent looks."