Thursday, September 20, 2012

Making Sense Of Notre Dame's ACC Marriage

Mike Brey was optimistic about Notre Dame finding a place to land amid conference realignment, and Fighting Irish found one last week with impending migration to ACC.  (Photo courtesy of Chicago Tribune)

I'll get the sentimental stuff out of the way now: I'm really going to miss Mike Brey when Notre Dame eventually joins Pittsburgh and Syracuse as Big East expatriates in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The affable head coach, who last year confidently predicted that his Fighting Irish would "land, and land on their feet" when asked about realignment at Big East media day, became the latest school to start the merry-go-round last week when Notre Dame announced it would become the ACC's fifteenth member; joining the conference in all sports except football, where it will continue its long and storied history as an independent.

However, there is no question that football ultimately played the biggest role in getting the gold and blue to jump ship.  With the Big East seemingly looking to anyone and everyone remotely interested just to save their coveted automatic BCS berth, Notre Dame administrators were smart enough to realize that the ACC offered more stability for their programs despite the fact that Fighting Irish football would remain unaffiliated.  On that note, marrying football to a conference would be somewhat of a lateral move for Notre Dame, which receives more out of its national broadcast rights contract with NBC than any conference can ever offer them.  That is the reason why South Bend has spurned the Big Ten numerous times over the years, and the Big East as well.

On the basketball side, the move will renew Notre Dame's rivalries with Syracuse and Pittsburgh, and gets more exciting to rabid and casual fans alike due to the prospect of perennial powerhouses North Carolina, Duke and Maryland coming into the Joyce Center on a regular basis.  Moreover, Brey has come out and admitted that he would like to continue playing Big East schools such as Villanova and St. John's whenever possible, as our friends at Rumble In The Garden explain a little more in depth here:

Ultimately, the geographic terms of the move do not make sense on paper, but the potential for athletic success is greater.  By playing five games against a generally weak ACC football contingent in comparison to conferences like the SEC and Big Ten, Notre Dame positions itself better for a potential bowl game every year; something that is just now being experienced in South Bend for the first time since the Lou Holtz era in the 1990s, when Rick Mirer was taking snaps under center and handing off to Jerome Bettis.  For basketball, the eighteen-game conference ledger will be the same, albeit under the umbrella of a different league.  Actually, Brey can use affiliations with North Carolina and Duke as an ace in the hole when it comes to nonconference scheduling, and should be able to attract higher quality opponents into the Joyce Center than the already stellar foes he has been able to lure to South Bend.

Very rarely do we see a conference move within two major leagues that is a true win-win situation.  Syracuse and Pittsburgh have a lot more to lose leaving the Big East, and Missouri, for instance, may have sacrificed the potential for greater football success in defecting the Big 12 in favor of the SEC.  However, by keeping their promise of remaining independent with football and also aligning themselves with arguably the greatest basketball league in the nation, Notre Dame has nothing to lose and much more to gain with their ACC affiliation.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

St. John’s Notebook: September 2012

By Jason Schott – A Daly Dose of Hoops Contributor - @JESchott19
St. John’s will be hosting the second-annual “Dribble For The Cure” event, in support of the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation, on Saturday, September 22nd from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event is on campus, and it is a run/walk event in which everyone dribbles a basketball.
St. John’s legendary basketball coach Lou Carnesecca will be joined by a fellow legend, former baseball coach Jack Kaiser, for the event. Carnesecca said, “St. John’s has always been about giving back. This is an important cause, created by a St. John’s legend in Al McGuire, to help young people who have been affected by this terrible disease.”
St. John’s Men’s Basketball Coach Steve Lavin said of the event, “St. John’s Basketball is proud to be associated with the Dribble for the Cure event on St. John’s campus. This is a special day that will both raise funds for cancer research and create greater awareness for the importance of developing a cure for pediatric cancer.”
Lavin will be joined by Women’s Basketball Coach Joe Tartamella for the event, and it was announced last week that New York Knicks legend John Starks will also be on hand for the event.
St. John’s Head Coach Steve Lavin announced that Darrick Martin has joined the coaching staff as an assistant coach, replacing Mike Dunlap, who took the head coaching job with the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats during the summer.

Darrick Martin while he played for the Toronto Raptors.

Martin played at point guard for 13 seasons in the NBA. and worked for the Minnesota Timberwolves the past two seasons as an assistant coach and player development specialist. He is the third coach with NBA experience on the staff, as Rico Hines was with the Golden State Warriors from 2005-06 to 2009-10 and special assistant Gene Keady coached with the Toronto Raptors in the 2005-06 season.
Martin said, “I am really excited for the opportunity to work with Coach Lavin, our staff and student-athletes. There is a huge comfort level for me, having played for Coach Lavin and knowing Rico Hines coming in. I have met the staff and I am looking forward to working with this talented roster, and helping the student-athletes develop on and off the court.”
Lavin said of Martin, “I have known Darrick personally for more than 20 years, and our staff is pleased he has chosen to become a member of the Johnnies basketball family. With our current team being one of the youngest in school history, the timing is ideal for Darrick to join forces with our staff to assist in our efforts to return St. John’s to college basketball prominence.”
Martin also got an endorsement from Earvin “Magic” Johnson, a five-time NBA World Champion, three-time NBA MVP, 1992 Dream Team Olympic Gold Medalist, and a friend and mentor to Martin. “Darrick has a great basketball mind and is an excellent student and teacher of the game. He’s a bona fide gym rat who is dedicated to achieving greatness. If any student-athletes are serious about hitting it hard and improving their game, Darrick Martin is their man!” said Johnson.
Lavin also announced that assistant coaches Rico Hines and Tony Chiles have been promoted within the coaching staff.
Hines and Chiles joined the staff when Lavin took over in 2010, and were a big part of helping the team reach the NCAA Tournament in 2011.
Lavin said, “Coach Hines and Coach Chiles are clearly deserving of this promotion. From the outset of my tenure at St. John’s, these two talented coaches have been tirelessly working alongside me, and their contributions have been vital to our efforts as we diligently work toward putting the Johnnies in position to be a consistent winner.”

Monday, September 17, 2012

Iona's MAAC Schedule Revealed

Tim Cluess and Iona have more than puncher's chance of repeating as MAAC regular season champions after Gaels' conference schedule was announced last week.  (Photo courtesy of ESPN)

The encore is officially about to begin.

One week after their nonconference schedule was announced, Iona College has also released their MAAC ledger, featuring eighteen league games against opponents that the Gaels dominated last season on the road to their first NCAA Tournament since 2006.  Iona's first two conference games were announced last week with the nonconference schedule, as the Gaels will host Niagara on November 28th at the Hynes Center in their league opener before traveling to Jersey City to face Saint Peter's on December 5th.  After Iona's non-MAAC contest on New Year's Eve, the Gaels will ring in 2013 on January 4th for their next conference meeting with Siena, and will be intent on avenging a bitter defeat at the hands of the Saints the last time Iona made the trip to the capital region.  Siena defeated the Gaels 65-62 despite Iona opening the game on a 20-2 run.  Two days later, Iona returns home; but will again look for revenge, as they will welcome Steve Masiello and Manhattan into the Hynes Center for the first time since Emmy Andujar's unforgettable buzzer-beater on January 12th.

The Gaels alternate road and home games again for their next two, starting with a trip to Marist on January 10th before coming back to New Rochelle three days later for a meeting with Canisius and new head coach Jim Baron.  From there, Iona remains at the Hynes Center, taking on Fairfield on January 18th in what is sure to be one of the most anticipated games in MAAC play this season.  The Stags will be rebuilding following the graduation of Rakim Sanders and Ryan Olander, but head coach Sydney Johnson still has guards Derek Needham and Desmond Wade to anchor his team in a season where their shot to win the conference is just as good as anyone else's.  Following the collision with Fairfield, the Gaels travel to New Jersey to face Rider on January 20th.  The Broncs also have a new coach, as assistant Kevin Baggett replaced Tommy Dempsey after he accepted the vacant coaching position at Binghamton, and will unveil St. John's transfer Nurideen Lindsey as their latest weapon.  A Philadelphia point guard, Lindsey brings a rare ability to attack the basket like a power forward despite playing in the backcourt.

The Gaels will see Saint Peter's one more time at the Hynes Center on January 25th before going on a three-game road trip to take on reigning MAAC champion Loyola, (January 27th) Niagara (January 31st) and Canisius. (February 2nd)  Iona will get five days off before a two-game homestand with Marist (February 7th) and Rider (February 9th) before hitting the road again.  The Gaels' next road trip comes against two teams that will not go quietly, first against Manhattan on February 15th at Draddy Gym, the other three days later against Fairfield in Bridgeport.  Iona's next game after their second battle with the Stags will be their annual Bracketbuster game, one in which they will be on the road for this season.

Iona will have a week off following the nonconference Bracketbuster contest, and will open March on the first night of the month by hosting Loyola for the final time in regular season MAAC play, as Jimmy Patsos and the Greyhounds will join the Patriot League after this season.  The Gaels conclude the regular season with senior day against Siena on March 3rd at the Hynes Center before traveling to Springfield, Massachusetts for the MAAC Tournament starting most likely on March 8th, or the day before if Iona finishes outside the top six.

Iona will be exposed to a national audience six times, with the Gaels' first televised contest being their opener against Denver, which will be carried on ESPN3.  The next affair to be seen across the country will be the January 4th meeting with Siena, (also an ESPN3 game) followed by an ESPNU appearance against Fairfield on the 18th of January.  Iona returns to ESPN3 on January 31st against Niagara and again on February 9th versus Rider, with the Gaels' final national TV appearance being an ESPNU date on February 15th against Manhattan.

A Daly Dose Of Hoops will have updates from Iona throughout the season and will be at mostly every Gaels home game, so follow us for news and notes from the Hynes Center.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thanks For The Memories, Jim

Less than eighteen months removed from his third national championship, Jim Calhoun retires having redefined the concept of winning both on and off the court.  (Photo courtesy of CBS Sports)

From the age of nine, I recognized Jim Calhoun's ability to coach a basketball game.

It was Calhoun's relentless desire to win at all costs, along with a guard whose shot was the sweetest thing that I had ever seen at that point in time, that attracted me to the Connecticut Huskies in the 1995-96 season.  After the Huskies reached the Elite Eight in that year's NCAA Tournament, the aforementioned guard; who had become my favorite college player at the time, was selected as the fifth overall pick in the NBA Draft and went on to enjoy one of the more successful professional careers in recent memory.  His name?  Ray Allen.

Despite the fact that Allen had left a year early, my interest in UConn remained strong over the years, thanks in large part to Calhoun and the groups of kids he had seemingly molded in his own image: A fighter who would do whatever it took to emerge victorious, no matter the cost.  Calhoun's basketball pugilists became a symbol of a winning program, which finally received its first testimonial when Richard Hamilton led the Huskies past Duke in Tampa thirteen years ago to win the program's first national championship.

Two more championships followed: One in 2004, the other seven years later.  By that time, I had transitioned from young fan to college student to broadcaster at St. John's University, one of Connecticut's oldest and fiercest rivals.  Yet my appreciation for UConn basketball was as strong as it had ever been, despite the mounds of grief and criticism I received routinely; and continue to receive to this day, for being a St. John's student and broadcaster (now an alumnus) that openly rooted for the University of Connecticut and did not mind sharing that affinity with the world.

Once I started my broadcasting career, I was able to attend various media days that I continue to participate in even for this outlet.  It was at the Big East's annual media day four years ago that I finally got to meet Jim Calhoun, and I honestly did not know what to expect when I approached his table inside Madison Square Garden.  Of course, I had heard all the stories about Calhoun's reputation; from his supposed confrontational nature to all the notoriously well-documented press conference rants, particularly his "not a dime back" tangent when asked about his salary following a game.  When I walked up to Calhoun and asked him what the initial impression of his team would be, (the Huskies had been coming off a disappointing 2007-08 season in which they were eliminated by the University of San Diego in the first round of the NCAA Tournament) the coach calmly and matter-of-factly stated that his team would "be judged by how hungry they are."  (UConn eventually reached the Final Four that season, losing to Michigan State at Ford Field in Detroit)

As our initial interaction progressed, Calhoun came off as one of the nicer guys I had ever met in that industry, and I walked away having learned a great deal more about the man and his program than I had ever known in the thirteen years that I had been following them as a fan prior to Big East media day in 2008.  Later that season, I had learned of the Hall of Fame coach's childhood and how he had to join the work force at the tender age of fifteen following the death of his father.  Coming from a home in which my parents separated when I was thirteen and having been raised by a single mother for the duration of my life, I can relate to Calhoun's story; to his me-against-the-world mentality that was prominently displayed on basketball courts across the nation for four decades at both the high school and collegiate levels, and appreciated him even more now that this nugget was just as vital as his having survived two separate bouts with cancer in the 2000s.

Last October, I interviewed Calhoun for the third time; and first since his seemingly improbable national championship run in 2011, and asked a handful of questions of the man who; like all true geniuses, is misunderstood far too often than he should be.  The coach even acknowledged my presence in front of him when he mentioned the iPad that I had in front of me, quipping that he was still behind the times technologically.

With Jim Calhoun at New York Athletic Club for Big East media day last year...I'm the guy with the blue shirt and the iPad in front of me.  Little did I know that it would be the last time I saw him.  (Photo courtesy of the author's personal collection)

As it had been in years past, the subject of Calhoun's future; a topic that the coach was always very careful to address, eventually worked its way into the media session.  I would be lying to you if I didn't think Calhoun was going to retire within the next decade.  Having just turned 70 four months ago, with a Hall of Fame resume padded by three national championships and over 800 wins, there was seemingly no other reason for him to go on other than the fact that he lived for what he did.  I just never expected that the announcement would come today.

Jim Calhoun is expected to announce at a 2pm press conference this afternoon that he will be hanging up the clipboard after a magnificent 26-year run with the Huskies, a reign that almost certainly ends prematurely in his mind, that was indirectly cut short by injuries the coach sustained in a bicycle accident last month that seriously hampered his ability to get around.  Calhoun will still have a presence on the sideline, as all of his assistants will remain on the bench, with Kevin Ollie; a former Calhoun player turned NBA journeyman turned UConn assistant himself, replacing the legend on an interim basis.  This move has its share of criticism, as many Calhoun detractors will suspect that the coach staged his decision to retire with the start of practice only a month away in an attempt to hamstring the UConn administration into accepting his handpicked replacement, but it is in reality the best move for the short-term future of the program.  The Huskies will unfortunately be precluded from postseason play for not meeting the minimum APR requirements, but rather than bring someone in from outside the program, UConn can build for the long run from within by starting the transition internally before potentially embarking on a national search for Calhoun's permanent successor.

Those of you who know me well may have heard me say that the day Calhoun retired would be one of the worst in my career.  Nothing could be closer to the truth than that statement, as my initial reaction to this announcement; which was revealed on Twitter by Jeff Jacobs of the Hartford Courant by way of a retweet from college basketball insider Jon Rothstein, was one of equal parts shock and devastation.  In five years as a media member, I had never prepared for the day that Jim Calhoun would no longer be standing among us, primarily because the man has a stronger will and heart than everyone with a microphone or notepad put together.  This is one of those instances where, although we all knew this was going to happen sooner or later, most of us did not see it coming; at least not so suddenly, and definitely not this way.

The inner child in me likens Calhoun's retirement to the first time a child realizes his parents are not infallible.  As an only child and a self-admitted "mama's boy," I always perceived my mother to be a Superman of sorts, even into my adolescence.  When I found out that she truly could not do it all, I was in denial for a long period of time before ultimately having to come to grips with the fact that although I put her on a pedestal; my mother is human, just like everyone else in this world.

Jim Calhoun's retirement strikes a similar chord with me.  Having known of his determination and fighting spirit, I could not process the fact that he was admitting that the fight against time was one he could not win, because; quite frankly, I had never seen or heard of him conceding anything to anyone.  However, the more I saw colleagues and friends alike tweeting news of Calhoun's retirement, I gradually began to realize that he, too, is human, and admired him even more for being able to recognize that he could not go on.  It takes a lot of guts to admit that you are no match for something, in this case a fight against the clock of life; and for that, Jim Calhoun deserves even more respect than the mounds of it he has racked up from myself and millions of others.  Some of us are not fortunate enough to even live as long as this man has coached.  That alone earns him the label of a winner, even if some may say he raised a white flag today.

Say what you want about the man personally, but do not ever attempt to deny him the success that he worked harder to attain than any mere mortal ever should; nor should you discount his contributions based on opinions of what he may or may not have done, good, bad, or indifferent.  As my friend and colleague Quinn Rochford stated last night, Calhoun's teams may have "caused you anguish and pain throughout the years," but it is "finally time to admit inevitable respect."

The record shows he took the blows, and he did it his way, in a manner that; although unorthodox and at times controversial, is for all intents and purposes more of a legacy than any number of wins and championships will never be able to equal.  Many can succeed, but few have the power to transcend.  Jim Calhoun not only transcended college basketball, he also transcended a University of Connecticut program that was basically nothing before his arrival, turning it into a true American fairy tale.  He also transcended life by having everything but the proverbial kitchen sink thrown in his path on multiple occasions, yet always managed to rise up and vanquish anything standing in his way, and that is a quality that is going to be missed in the college basketball world more than anyone will ever know, and certainly far more than anyone will ever have the nerve to admit.  Love him or hate him, there will never be another coach like Jim Calhoun.  There will undoubtedly be someone somewhere who attempts to channel him, through competitiveness or intensity for instance, but never will anyone truly replace him.

Looking back, my greatest memory of Jim will be the media day before his magical 2010-11 campaign.  After the Huskies were soundly defeated in the Big East Tournament by St. John's the previous season, they settled for an NIT berth and entered the following year as a team that was projected to finish in the middle of the conference.  Among my questions for Calhoun was one in which I asked if he thought his team was a "sleeping giant" of sorts given the lower expectations than what had been the norm of years past.  Without hesitation and with his trademark conviction, the coach responded in this way:

"I don't know if we're going to be a giant.  If we're just really, really good when it's all said and done, I'll be happy." - Jim Calhoun at Big East media day in 2010

Jim Calhoun and his UConn teams were never just really, really good.  They were, and will forever be, great; and after today, the coach and his career will be living proof that heroes get remembered, but legends never die.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Iona Announces Nonconference Schedule

Now running point in absence of Scott Machado, Momo Jones will also be charged with leading Iona in a season that serves as Gaels' encore following NCAA Tournament appearance.  (Photo courtesy of New York Daily News)

Regardless of how it may have ended, last season was still historic for Iona College.  For the second straight year, the Gaels put together a 25-win campaign under head coach Tim Cluess; except only this time, Iona's body of work made enough of an impression to warrant just the second at-large NCAA Tournament bid in MAAC history.  Recent events such as the commitment of Norvel Pelle and eligibility of David Laury come December have vaulted the Gaels back into consideration as a potential participant in this year's field of 68, but it will not be an easy road given how everyone else in the conference has improved as well. Gone for Iona are MAAC Player of the Year Scott Machado and double-double machine Mike Glover, as both are playing professionally now for the Houston Rockets (Machado) and in Turkey, (Glover) respectively.  In their absence, Iona will count on Momo Jones to perhaps run the point while incoming transfers Tre Bowman and Curtis Dennis attempt to give the Gaels more of a four-quick look alongside incumbent shooting guard Sean Armand, with Taaj Ridley likely stepping up to fill Glover's position inside.

"It was proven by our performance last year that a strong schedule is extremely important," said Cluess of Iona's nonconference ledger, which begins with a 9pm tipoff against Denver at the Hynes Center on November 9th.  "Although we're not on the road as long, (Iona was away from New Rochelle through the entire month of December last season) it's still very demanding."  Following their season opener, Iona travels to the Virgin Islands for the Paradise Jam, first facing Quinnipiac on November 16th before awaiting either Connecticut or Wake Forest, and ultimately culminating on November 19th with a matchup of four potential opponents that include former Final Four program George Mason.

Conference play opens on November 28th for the Gaels with the traditional two MAAC games before Iona returns to their nonconference slate.  The remainder of the MAAC schedule has yet to be announced, but the Gaels will host Niagara on November 28th before traveling to Jersey City a week later for a December 5th meeting with Saint Peter's.  Three days removed from their collision with the Peacocks, Iona will tackle another Garden State foe in Mike Rice and Rutgers, as the two teams will meet in the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden as the undercard matchup on a doubleheader that will also include Fordham taking on St. John's.

Iona's next contest comes on December 15th when the Gaels take on Mark Fox and the Georgia Bulldogs, who will serve as the Gaels' first Southeastern Conference opponent since 2007, when Iona faced Vanderbilt.  A home meeting with Liberty ensues three days later, with a journey to Philadelphia next on the ledger.  The Gaels' December 20th tipoff against La Salle is one of two trips to the City of Brotherly Love for Iona in a span of nine days, both against Atlantic 10 programs.  Iona's final nonconference home game precedes the second jaunt to Pennsylvania's largest city, however, as the Gaels host Norfolk State on December 23rd in a season where the Spartans will attempt to build on last season's dramatic NCAA Tournament upset of Missouri despite having lost center Kyle O'Quinn to the NBA.  The Gaels will next travel to Saint Joseph's on December 28th to conclude a home-and-home series that featured a thrilling double-overtime Iona win in the Gaels' Hynes Center opener a year ago, and will conclude 2012 with a New Year's Eve matinee in western New York against reigning A-10 champion St. Bonaventure.  Just as every other MAAC school will do, Iona will again participate in the annual Bracketbuster series as well, and a road contest in February will have the honor of being the Gaels' final non-MAAC contest.

A Daly Dose Of Hoops will have more information on Iona in the coming weeks, including the Gaels' MAAC schedule once it is revealed, as well as updates from New Rochelle throughout the season.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Fordham's Atlantic 10 Schedule Revealed

Now entering his third year at Fordham, Tom Pecora's Rams have several opportunities for early success in Atlantic 10, which released conference schedule yesterday.  (Photo courtesy of WFUV)

Coming off a season in which his Fordham team showed marked improvement from their previous campaign and posted a winning record on their home court at Rose Hill Gym, Tom Pecora two months ago revealed a nonconference schedule that would test the Rams, while at the same time provide many opportunities for a young and improving team to expand their potential.

Following Fordham's final nonconference contest, which is a road game against the University of Mississippi on January 4th, Pecora's Rams host their first two Atlantic 10 showdowns; first welcoming Duquesne and new head coach Jim Ferry to Rose Hill on January 9th, and then entertaining reigning NIT semifinalist Massachusetts, led by point guard Chaz Williams, four days later.  Road trips to Charlotte and Dayton are next on the schedule, and the Rams will be looking to avenge bitter losses to the 49ers and Flyers in each of these two meetings; particularly the latter, when Dayton battled back from a second-half deficit to prevail in overtime against Fordham last February at Rose Hill.

Pecora's pupils again embark on a two-game homestand starting January 26th, when Rhode Island and new head coach Dan Hurley make their way to the Bronx in one of two tilts on the schedule in which the Rams battle the Rams, the second being a February 2nd collision with Shaka Smart and A-10 newcomer Virginia Commonwealth, which comes on the heels of a date with Phil Martelli and conference favorite Saint Joseph's on January 30th.

Fordham hosts Saint Louis on February 6th before hitting the road again, and will meet a Billikens team that returns the core of its NCAA Tournament group from last season; but will have a new leader, as interim coach Jim Crews has stepped in for the ailing Rick Majerus, who announced last week that he would not return to the sidelines this season due to medical issues.  This contest will be one of three that will be nationally televised on the CBS Sports Network.  The Rams' next two games take them to Philadelphia and Cincinnati, with A-10 contender La Salle hosting Fordham first on February 9th, followed by Chris Mack and a rebuilding Xavier team four days later.  The Musketeers will have to retool completely this season, even more so now following the explusion of swingman Dez Wells, who has since transferred to Maryland.

February 16th is arguably the biggest home game of the year, as two-time NCAA Tournament runner-up Butler makes their Rose Hill debut led by coaching prodigy Brad Stevens.  The Bulldogs will almost certainly attract a sellout crowd in a matinee that will serve as Fordham's second consecutive CBS Sports Network appearance.  A road trip to George Washington four days later sandwiches the Butler game and a home date against 2011 A-10 champion Richmond on February 23rd at Rose Hill.

The Rams get a week off before traveling to Hagan Arena to open March with the back end of their lone home-and-home series of the season on the second of the month against Saint Joseph's.  Fordham's final home game will be senior night for star forward Chris Gaston, who will lead the Rams into battle on March 6th against Temple, who will make their final appearance at Rose Hill before joining the Big East next July.  This showdown with the Owls will be the penultimate regular season game on the ledger, with reigning conference champion St. Bonaventure serving as the Rams' final opponent three days after the Temple game before Fordham gets the opportunity to compete in the Atlantic 10 Tournament inside its new home at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

St. John’s releases Big East part of schedule

By Jason Schott – Daly Dose of Hoops Contributor - Twitter @JESchott19
St. John’s Head Coach Steve Lavin will be ready to lead his team into a tough Big East Conference schedule. It was released on Wednesday, September 5th, and there are plenty of great matchups to look forward to. 
St. John’s opens the Big East part of the schedule with two road contests, as they play at Villanova on Wednesday, January 2nd and Cincinnati on January 5th.

St. John's Head Coach Steve Lavin being interviewed by
ESPN's Len Elmore after the Red Storm beat Lehigh on
November 9th, one of four games Lavin coached
last season. Photo by Jason Schott

They then return home for a nice stretch of home games at Madison Square Garden starting with regional rival Rutgers on Wednesday, January 9th.  That is followed by an 11:00 AM tip-off on Saturday, January 12th against Georgetown at Madison Square Garden, where Hoyas fans will be out in force. Three days later, on January 15th, they will face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, whom they have beaten the past two seasons at The Garden.
They go back on the road for games at DePaul on January 19th and down to Piscataway, NJ for a battle at the RAC with Rutgers on January 23rd. That is followed by another regional matchup with Seton Hall at home on Sunday, January 27th. They face DePaul again, this time at Carnesecca Arena, on January 30th   with tip-off at 9:00 pm.
On Groundhog Day, February 2nd, the Red Storm travel to Washington, D.C. for a battle with Georgetown. The game tips off at 4:00 pm and will be on CBS.
They return home on February 6th for a game with Connecticut, who is banned from postseason competition this year. That may not be the big matchup that college basketball fans have become accustomed to.
They follow that up with their toughest week of the season, as they travel up to the Carrier Dome for a game with the Syracuse Orange, the Big East Conference Regular Season Champions, on Sunday, February 10th.

Louisville's celebration after winning the 2012 Big East
Tournament. Photo by Jason Schott

That is followed up by a trip to Louisville on Valentine’s Day, February 14th. Louisville made a surprise run to win the Big East Tournament and made the Final Four.
The Red Storm then have practically a week off before hosting USF, who made the NCAA Tournament last year, on February 20th. They stay home for a battle with Pittsburgh on Sunday, February 24th. Pittsburgh will be looking to make up for a disappointing 2011-12 campaign and anytime St. John’s plays Pitt, can’t help thinking about Dwight Hardy’s Baryshnikov shot on February 19, 2011 in a big Red Storm win.
The Red Storm then hit the road for games at Providence on March 2nd and Notre Dame on March 5th before closing out the regular season at home against Marquette on March 9th.
To see the entire St. John's schedule, click here for this link from

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Houston Rockets To Sign Scott Machado

Scott Machado's performance for Houston Rockets' Summer League team in July was apparently good enough for them to sign him to three-year deal that will be announced later this week.  (Photo courtesy of Houston Chronicle)

After eighteen years, Iona College's NBA drought is over.

Despite being inexplicably undrafted and having to seemingly play his way onto the team during his Summer League tryout in Las Vegas this past July, and then having to endure the free agent saga of Jeremy Lin, Scott Machado has a home in the professional ranks; as the Houston Rockets, for whom Machado auditioned two months ago in Sin City, have offered the guard a three-year deal that he is expected to sign later in the week, perhaps as early as tomorrow.

Actual terms of the contract have not been disclosed, but it is a partially guaranteed offer that will make Machado the first Gael to play in the NBA since Sean Green in 1994, and the eleventh overall from the small school in New Rochelle.

"They know I'm a great passer," said the Queens native of his new employer.  "I feel like every day, I progressed and got better, just getting more comfortable and more used to the style of play, the pace of the game and the players around me."

For Machado, the nation's assist leader during his senior year at Iona this past season, the contract is a vindication for all those who had skepticism as to whether or not he would be able to adapt to the professional game, as well as those who felt his statistics were a product of the uptempo offense that has become a trademark of Gaels coach Tim Cluess in his brief two-year tenure.  In his five Summer League games, Machado improved progressively in each contest, ultimately becoming the team's starting point guard.  He will begin his NBA career as a backup, however, as the Rockets signed former Knick sensation Jeremy Lin to a three-year deal in the offseason as well.  

If he lives up to the standard he set for himself at Iona during a career that culminated with his recognition as MAAC Player of the Year and winning the Haggerty Award, given to the best college basketball player in the New York metropolitan area, there is reason to believe that Machado can eventually win the starting job from Lin, perhaps as early as his second season in the league.

Scott's hometown fans will be able to see him for the first time on December 17th, when the Rockets come to Madison Square Garden to take on the New York Knicks, who brought the guard in for a workout before June's NBA Draft only to pass on him in favor of Greek forward Kostas Papanikolaou.  Machado returns home on February 22nd when the Rockets tip off against the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Dez Wells Resurfaces At Maryland

Dez Wells, projected to be Xavier's best player before dismissal from school, will transfer to Maryland, who is now expected to seek waiver for sophomore swingman.  (Photo courtesy of The Sporting News)

After his shocking expulsion from Xavier University last month, Dez Wells immediately became a hot commodity in college basketball, as several schools lined up to lure the Musketeers' top returning player onto their roster.  This morning, Wells made his pick from his handful of suitors, making a traditional powerhouse's resurgence even stronger regardless of whether or not he is able to play immediately.

Wells announced his intention to transfer to the University of Maryland and coach Mark Turgeon, choosing the Terrapins over Memphis, Oregon and reigning national champion Kentucky.  "After careful consideration with my family, I've decided to attend the University of Maryland," said the sophomore wing in a tweet where a picture of a statement explaining his situation was posted.  "I've learned that it is a major responsibility that comes with being a student-athlete at all times.  I'm thankful that God has blessed me with a second opportunity to continue my education."  It is widely expected that Maryland will pursue a waiver that will enable the 6-5 Wells to play immediately, but it is still unclear as to whether or not the Terps will be successful in that endeavor.  If not, the swingman will have three years of eligibility remaining in Maryland, beginning with the 2013-14 season.

The arrival of Wells is yet another significant coup for head coach Mark Turgeon, who will soon begin his second season in College Park after longtime program leader Gary Williams announced his retirement in May of 2011.  Turgeon has already offset the loss of Terrell Stoglin by positioning Maryland very well for the future with the commitments of Shaquille Cleare and Sam Cassell Jr. to go with a young roster headlined by guards Nick Faust and Pe'Shon Howard, as well as 7-1 center Alex Len and Michigan transfer Evan Smotrycz, who becomes eligible next season.  The Terps are also considered a strong candidate to land Texas twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison, a pair of 6-5 guards that have made their intentions known that they will be a package deal for whomever lands their services when they announce their decision next month.

In Wells' absence, Xavier's NCAA Tournament chances may have been dealt yet another blow, as the Musketeers had already lost shooting guard Mark Lyons to Arizona and point guard Tu Holloway to graduation.  Chris Mack's roster will be younger than it has been in years past, with former Monmouth signee Travis Taylor leading the team as he enters his senior season, and Brad Redford anchoring the backcourt on a team whose X-factor could very well be sophomore swingman Justin Martin, who stands to gain the most from Wells' departure.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Lavin Replaces Dunlap With Darrick Martin

Once a former NBA point guard, Darrick Martin stands to become new assistant coach at St. John's.  (Photo courtesy of Yahoo! Sports)

Steve Lavin lost one assistant coach to the NBA.  Less than three months later, the St. John's coach has reached into the same professional ranks to name a replacement.

After basketball tactician Mike Dunlap made the jump to the NBA when he was hired off the St. John's bench to lead the Charlotte Bobcats, Lavin is expected to hire Darrick Martin as his successor according to a tweet from Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News.  Martin, who was a 13-year NBA veteran after graduating from UCLA soon after Lavin was hired as an assistant to then-Bruins coach Jim Harrick, most recently worked in the front office for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Toronto Raptors, two organizations he once played for as well.

In Martin, Lavin gets a young sideline presence that is a stark contrast to the experience and career of Dunlap, but someone whose background is just as attractive.  By hiring a former NBA player, Lavin will be reinforcing his track record and belief that he can get a player to the NBA regardless of his coaching record or the player's rank in a recruiting class.  Maurice Harkless serves as living proof after the Queens native left the Red Storm after one year under the tutelage of Lavin and Dunlap, and will now be one of the faces of a rebuilding Orlando Magic franchise after the Philadelphia 76ers moved him to Orlando in the four-way trade that sent Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers shortly after being drafted.

Martin is expected to work with the Red Storm guards in his new capacity, a stable that is led by the team's leading scorer from last season, sophomore sharpshooter D'Angelo Harrison.  The new coach will also work with combo guard Phil Greene and Texas A&M transfer Jamal Branch in addition to the backcourt players signed in Lavin's recruiting class last spring, a group that includes Felix Balamou and Marco Bourgault.

A Daly Dose Of Hoops will continue to monitor this breaking news, with updates to be posted as soon as they become available.  

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Manhattan Reveals Challenging Nonconference Slate

One year removed from guiding nation's greatest turnaround, Manhattan's Steve Masiello will test Jaspers with bold nonconference schedule as an encore.  (Photo courtesy of CBS Sports)

One year ago, Manhattan College came from out of seemingly nowhere to finish in the top half of the MAAC amid a 21-win season and a style that head coach Steve Masiello borrowed from former mentor Rick Pitino after serving as the future Hall of Fame coach's apprentice at Louisville.  Masiello, a former Jaspers assistant during the program's greatest successes under Bobby Gonzalez, was responsible for the largest win-loss turnaround in the nation last season; guiding Manhattan to a 15-win improvement from their previous six-victory campaign under former coach Barry Rohrssen, who replaced Gonzalez after he was hired at Seton Hall.

Masiello's second season gets underway with a scrimmage against C.W. Post at Draddy Gym on November 1st, but the 2012-13 ledger does not officially open for another ten days after that, when he leads the Jaspers into the Yum! Center for a meeting with his former employer Rick Pitino and Louisville.  Pitino's Cardinals will be entering the Veterans' Day matinee on the heels of an unexpected run to the Final Four, and return almost everyone from that team onto a group that is expected to not only win the Big East, but also be a national championship contender as well.  The Manhattan road show resumes on November 16th, as the Jaspers face reigning Ivy League champion Harvard in Cambridge for a meeting with a Crimson team that coach Tommy Amaker will need to retool after losing the bulk of his NCAA Tournament roster due to graduation.

The Manhattan home opener comes on November 21st, when Hofstra makes the trip into Draddy for one of just two nonconference home games for the Jaspers this season.  This could also be a big game for the Jaspers and their MAAC championship-caliber roster led by senior swingman George Beamon, as the Pride are also in somewhat of a youth movement, and will need to replace departed seniors Mike Moore and Nathaniel Lester among others.  Masiello's young charges will have very little time to recover following the Hofstra game, as they travel to Dayton three days later before renewing their long-standing rivalry with intra-borough rival Fordham in the 105th "Battle of the Bronx," which will be contested this year on November 29th at Rose Hill Gym in one of the more intriguing local games this season.  After getting blown out to the tune of an 81-47 rout at Draddy last December, Rams coach Tom Pecora returns most of his team, including senior forward Chris Gaston and a three-pronged backcourt of junior Branden Frazier and sophomores Devon McMillan and Bryan Smith.  Fordham may not win this game, but one can be assured that it will be much closer, especially given the raucous atmosphere Rose Hill creates when filled to capacity.

Three days after the Fordham game, Manhattan plays their third consecutive Atlantic 10 opponent when they face George Washington and second-year coach Mike Lonergan in the nation's capital.  The Jaspers will then take a two-week break for finals before resuming their season on December 16th at the Wellness Center in Brooklyn for another potential marquee matchup, this one against two-time defending Northeast Conference champion LIU Brooklyn.  After coach Jim Ferry left the Blackbirds for Duquesne, associate head coach Jack Perri was promoted; and loses just Mike Culpo from last year's rotation, which includes NEC Player of the Year Julian Boyd, fellow senior forward Jamal Olasewere, and guards Jason Brickman and C.J. Garner.

Manhattan's final game before Christmas comes six days after the Sunday afternoon showdown with LIU, when the Jaspers help christen the Barclays Center against South Carolina and new Gamecocks coach Frank Martin.  One week later, the Jaspers' final appearance in 2012 will come against Ivy League contender Columbia at Levien Gym on the Upper West Side.  Masiello and Manhattan will ring in the new year by hosting Stony Brook in a 2pm matinee on the first day of 2013 in a matchup that will feature Steve Pikiell's Seawolves in a matchup that should help a younger team for their upcoming America East battles.

The Jaspers, like their other MAAC brethren, will also participate in ESPN's Bracketbuster series once again, with a road matchup to be determined later in the season.  This game will be contested during the last week of February, right before the MAAC Tournament gets underway at the MassMutual Center in Springfield.