Friday, August 30, 2013

Minnesota Lynx/New York Liberty: A Photo Gallery

With August winding down and today being a slow day on the college hoops front, we bring you another photo essay submitted by our own "Renaissance Man" Ray Floriani, whose latest travels took him to the Prudential Center Tuesday night to watch the New York Liberty take on the Minnesota Lynx. Although the Liberty were outplayed to the tune of a 73-47 Minnesota victory, here is Ray's roundup on our second journey into the world of the WNBA:

NEWARK, NJ - The 73-47 score tells us there was not a whole lot to report on. The Minnesota Lynx thoroughly dominated the New York Liberty on Tuesday. Minnesota, one of the WNBA's elite, continues a drive with championship aspirations. The Liberty still struggle to find an identity and consistency.
          Part of the allure of the women's game is fan devotion. The outcome was sealed rather early, yet no one headed for the early exit. This is something you see on various levels of the girls/women's game. Fans and followers want to savor it, and even hang around later to meet and discuss it.
           Among those in attendance were Rick Mahorn and Allan Houston. The latter is somewhat of a regular, and not just due to his executive position with the Knicks. Houston enjoys the women's game and has his kids out for the event.
          On a personal note, I got to touch base with Lauren Mincy. She is heading into her senior year playing for the University of Maryland. Yours truly officiated Lauren since her fifth grade days at St.Joseph's in East Orange and at prep power University High School in Newark. Discussing her Terrapins, the not too distant past, and what might be wrong with the Liberty were a few of the topics. Most important was connecting with a basketball friend.
          Happens to a lot of followers and devotees of the women's game.

Looking down the road outside "The Rock" about 45 minutes before game time:
Players lining up for the national anthem, with pink being the color of the Liberty uniforms on Breast Cancer Health Awareness Night:
Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer is a little intense during a timeout:
The ice bar at halftime, a little busier than usual with the Liberty down 18 at the intermission:
Minnesota's Maya Moore, a picture of concentration and form at the free throw line:
Rick Mahorn, (a little above playing weight) a former Detroit Pistons "Bad Boy," chats with fellow former Piston (and notorious Knick) Allan Houston:
Exiting The Rock about 40 minutes after the contest:

Thursday, August 29, 2013

MAAC Schedule Update

Now that the MAAC has released its conference schedule, we've decided to group all eleven schools' schedules together in one place to make it easy for you to navigate. We will update this list as often as needed.

Canisius College (full schedule)

Fairfield University (full schedule)

Iona College (full schedule, updated as of September 2nd)

Manhattan College (full schedule)

Marist College (full schedule)

Monmouth University (full schedule)

Niagara University (full schedule)

Quinnipiac University (nonconference schedule, updated as of September 4th)

Rider University (full schedule)

Saint Peter's University (full schedule, updated as of September 5th)

Siena College (full schedule)

2013-14 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference schedule (in .pdf format)

Siena Finishes Montreal Trip 4-1 Despite Hymes' Injury

Despite going 4-1 during their week-long stay in Montreal, Siena's trip proved costly when Evan Hymes went on the shelf with a broken hand. (Photo courtesy of the Albany Times Union)

Since he replaced Mitch Buonaguro in April, Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos has restored interest in the Saints program to a point not seen since the height of the Fran McCaffery era, spreading a positive message with his colorful personality and whirlwind media tour. Among the first questions for Patsos would be how he would implement his trademark educational field trips during the season, which the coach; a history major in college who is adamant about teaching his players about life beyond the hardwood, became famous for during his nine-year tenure at Loyola. Siena fans saw the first of such trips this past week, when Patsos and the Saints traveled to Montreal for a five-game exhibition. For those who missed the events chronicled on the Siena website, here is a complete recap of what happened north of the border:

Game #1: Siena 88, University of Quebec at Montreal 78 (August 24, 2013)
Five Saints ended the first contest of the tour in double figures, led by freshman Marquis Wright, who had 19 points, six assists and four steals in his first action as the Siena point guard. Wright's backcourt partner, Evan Hymes, chipped in with 16 points of his own; including the first five of the game, while freshman forwards Javion Ogunyemi and Lavon Long ended the night with 16 and 13 points, respectively, on a combined 13-for-20 shooting effort from the field in a game that Siena led wire to wire. The opener had its tense moments, however, as UQAM pulled within one (79-78) of the Saints with 1:28 remaining in regulation following a four-point play by Richard Addai. It was as close as UQAM would get, though, as a dunk from Imoh Silas and a three-point play by Long gave Siena a five-point lead that they stretched with four free throws in the closing seconds to end the game on a 9-0 run.

Game #2: McGill 74, Siena 72 (August 25, 2013)
The only loss on the trip came on a game-winning three-pointer by Simon Bibeau as McGill used the last of their ten treys to pull off the upset. (Video of Bibeau's shot courtesy of Siena sports information director Jason Rich)

Once again, Marquis Wright was the Saints' leading scorer, chipping in with 17 points while Brett Bisping; who Patsos told us would likely start at power forward, added 12 points. Two free throws from Vincent Dufort, who led all scorers with 20 points, drew first blood for McGill and marked the first time that Siena had trailed in Montreal. McGill later added a 10-0 run midway through the first quarter, (each game consisted of four 10-minute quarters) and went into halftime with a 34-29 lead. However, an 11-2 Siena run capped off with a three-pointer from Rob Poole gave the Saints their first lead (55-54) at the 6:55 mark in the fourth quarter. After several minutes of trading baskets, Siena took a three-point lead when Ryan Oliver and Marquis Wright drained threes to start an 8-2 run that Javion Ogunyemi punctuated with 1:26 left in regulation. McGill followed up with six unanswered points before two Wright free throws and a putback by Lavon Long gave the Saints a 72-71 lead with two seconds remaining in regulation, setting the stage for Bibeau's theatrics.

Game #3: Siena 69, Queens University 48 (August 26, 2013)
Before the middle game on the trip, it was announced that Evan Hymes would miss up to six weeks after breaking the fifth metacarpal in his right hand during the Saints' loss to McGill. In Hymes' absence, Ryan Oliver started, and ended the night with five points and six rebounds. On this night, Siena had a different leading scorer, as Rob Poole led the team and all scorers with 19 points on 6-of-12 shooting, while Lavon Long was the only other Saint in double figures, contributing 13 points of his own. Marquis Wright and Imoh Silas each tallied eight points for Siena, with Wright adding five assists to complement Silas' seven rebounds.

Game #4: Siena 81, Brookwood Club 73 (August 27, 2013)
For the second straight game, Rob Poole led all scorers, going for 24 points and seven rebounds as the Saints won their second straight game following the loss to McGill. Brett Bisping matched Poole's seven boards with 15 points, while Lavon Long had an understated 12-point outing on a 5-of-7 effort from the field. Marquis Wright had another solid game, continuing to grow on this trip with a nine-point, five-assist effort.

Game #5: Siena 80, Concordia College 70 (August 28, 2013)
The final game of the Saints' journey saw another 20-point night for Rob Poole, who went 8-of-15 from the field en route to a game-high 23 points to boost his average for the five games to 17.4 points per game. Marquis Wright came within one assist of a double-double, with 15 points to go with his nine helpers, while Rich Audu did yeoman's work under the boards with seven points and five rebounds. After trailing 11-9 late in the first quarter, Siena took the lead for good on a 13-2 run capped off by two of Poole's four three-pointers on the night. With a 41-27 lead going into the second half, the Saints stretched their advantage to as many as 22 points after opening the third quarter on an 8-0 run, and withstood a 13-0 run from Concordia midway through the fourth quarter to pull out the victory.

Scoring Leaders
Rob Poole, 17.4 PPG
Marquis Wright, 13.6 PPG
Evan Hymes, 12.0 PPG
Lavon Long, 9.6 PPG
Brett Bisping, 8.4 PPG

***Highlights of the five games, along with quotes, postgame reactions, and photos from the trip, can be found on the "Saints in Montreal" blog that was updated throughout the week by Jason Rich, including this clip of Jimmy Patsos "unplugged:"

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Columbia Releases Full Schedule

Alex Rosenberg is primed for breakout junior season at Columbia, who released its full schedule recently. (Photo courtesy of Columbia University)

After a brief hiatus, we return with another local schedule release, this one having come last week when Columbia University unveiled its full 31-game slate for what will be the fourth season of the Kyle Smith era.

Led now by junior forward Alex Rosenberg following the graduation of point guard Brian Barbour, the Lions will open the year with a two-game homestand, first welcoming Maryland-Eastern Shore to Levien Gym on November 9th before entertaining Manhattan on their home floor for the second year in a row three days later. The competition only intensifies from there, as Columbia invades the Breslin Center on November 15th for a meeting with Tom Izzo and likely preseason Top 5 program Michigan State, which precedes a three-game trip to Portland to take on North Texas, Portland and Idaho from November 21st-23rd.

American University is next on the Columbia ledger when the Eagles face the Lions on November 26th at Levien in what will be a homecoming of sorts for American sports information director Mike Gambardella, who spent several years learning the ropes at nearby St. John's University, who also plays Columbia later in the season. Following the American game, Columbia will travel to North Carolina on December 1st to meet future Colonial Athletic Association member Elon before alternating home and road games with Army; who comes to Levien on December 4th, and visiting the Sojka Pavilion on December 7th to meet reigning Patriot League champion Bucknell.

Columbia will help welcome UMass-Lowell into Division I two days later when they host them on December 9th, and following a break for final exams, the Lions will square off with Fairleigh Dickinson on the 21st of December at Levien Gym. Columbia will then have a week off before meeting St. John's for the first time since November 2010 when they lock horns with Steve Lavin and the Red Storm on December 28th at the Barclays Center, two days before making the trek to upstate New York for a December 30th showdown with Colgate. The Lions will open 2014 with a four-game homestand, first taking on St. Francis College on January 4th, with Stony Brook coming to Levien on the 8th and Central Pennsylvania College visiting on the 11th before Columbia's Ivy League opener against archrival Cornell on January 18th.

The Lions will return the favor with Cornell on January 25th in the second half of the traditional Ivy League home-and-home against a school's travel partner, when they make the journey to the Newman Arena in Ithaca to face the Big Red once again. From there, the schedule shifts to the Friday/Saturday Ivy League format, with road trips to Yale and Brown next on the ledger for January 31st and February 1st. One week later, Columbia concludes a five-game road trip at Jadwin Gym against Princeton on February 7th before their annual pilgrimage to the Palestra to meet Penn the next day. A four-game homestand ensues after that, with Harvard and Dartmouth coming to Levien on February 14th and 15th, respectively, while Brown and Yale visit the Big Apple on the 21st and 22nd. The Lions' final road trips come on February 28th and March 1st to Dartmouth and Harvard, with home dates on March 7th and 8th against Penn and Princeton to close the season.

2013-14 Columbia University Schedule (all road game times TBD)
Saturday, November 9th: vs. Maryland-Eastern Shore, 7pm
Tuesday, November 12th: vs. Manhattan, 7pm
Friday, November 15th: at Michigan State
Thursday, November 21st: vs. North Texas in Portland, Ore.
Friday, November 22nd: at Portland
Saturday, November 23rd: vs. Idaho in Portland, Ore.
Tuesday, November 26th: vs. American, 7pm
Sunday, December 1st: at Elon
Wednesday, December 4th: vs. Army, 7pm
Saturday, December 7th: at Bucknell
Monday, December 9th: vs. UMass-Lowell, 7pm
Saturday, December 21st: vs. Fairleigh Dickinson, 4pm
Saturday, December 28th: vs. St. John's at Barclays Center, 3pm
Saturday, January 4th: vs. St. Francis College, 4pm
Wednesday, January 8th: vs. Stony Brook, 7pm
Saturday, January 11th: vs. Central Pennsylvania, 4pm
Saturday, January 18th: vs. Cornell, 7pm
Saturday, January 25th: at Cornell
Friday, January 31st: at Yale
Saturday, February 1st: at Brown
Friday, February 7th: at Princeton
Saturday, February 8th: at Penn
Friday, February 14th: vs. Harvard, 7pm
Saturday, February 15th: vs. Dartmouth, 7pm
Friday, February 21st: vs. Brown, 7pm
Saturday, February 22nd: vs. Yale, 7pm
Friday, February 28th: at Dartmouth
Saturday, March 1st: at Harvard
Friday, March 7th: vs. Penn, 7pm
Saturday, March 8th: vs. Princeton, 7pm

Friday, August 23, 2013

St. John's Women's Basketball Releases Nonconference Schedule

Sophomore guard Aliyyah Handford will look to build off successful rookie season as she replaces Shenneika Smith and Nadirah McKenith in St. John's backcourt in second season under Joe Tartamella. (Photo courtesy of Rumble In The Garden)

Last season, St. John's started off slow, picked up steam midway through the year, and managed to hold their momentum for a fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, the first for new head coach Joe Tartamella.

However, this season becomes the hardest test yet for the 34-year-old, who begins his second campaign in Queens since replacing Kim Barnes Arico at the helm last year. Gone are four-year starting guards Nadirah McKenith and Shenneika Smith, both of whom were selected in April's WNBA Draft after serving as irreplaceable stalwarts for the Lady Johnnies, helping to further elevate a once-dormant program. Today, Tartamella took the first step toward building on the Red Storm's success, releasing a nonconference schedule loaded with local opposition, while also taking on several other high-major opponents.

St. John's will open their season on the road, facing Northeast Conference favorite Sacred Heart on November 8th in the first meeting between the two schools. The Pioneers return shooting guard Gabrielle Washington, but welcome a new head coach in Jessica Mannetti after longtime leader Ed Swanson took over at William & Mary. Four days later, St. John's competes in their home opener, facing Iona for the second straight year, and will have the task of stopping junior scoring machine Damika Martinez as the Gaels transition into the Billi Godsey era after she was hired as the replacement for former coach Tony Bozzella, now at Seton Hall. The Red Storm then host John Thurston and St. Francis College on November 16th for the first time since 2001, and conclude a three-game homestand with Quinnipiac returning their upset victory from last season in Hamden, as Tricia Fabbri's Bobcats make the trip to Queens on November 20th, now a member of the MAAC after an undefeated final season in the NEC.

The Lady Johnnies travel to Florida on November 26th to square off against the Gators, and will invade Alabama to face Auburn and former Georgetown head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy on December 6th, but a home game against Harvard will be sandwiched in on December 1st. The Red Storm will once again host the Chartwells Holiday Classic for the sixth straight year, first entertaining Drexel at Carnesecca Arena on December 14th before taking on either James Madison or Prairie View A&M the following day.

Following a week off, St. John's will once again compete in the Maggie Dixon Classic; held at Madison Square Garden on December 22nd, when they face off against Texas A&M. Reigning national champion Connecticut will take on California in the second half of a doubleheader immediately following the St. John's game. The Red Storm conclude their nonconference schedule on the road, taking on Delaware on December 30th in a rematch of last year's overtime game at Carnesecca, which the Blue Hens won behind Elena Delle Donne.

2013-14 St. John's University Women's Basketball Nonconference Schedule (all games at Carnesecca Arena unless noted)
Friday, November 8th: at Sacred Heart, 7pm
Tuesday, November 12th: vs. Iona, 7pm
Saturday, November 16th: vs. St. Francis College, 7pm
Wednesday, November 20th: vs. Quinnipiac, 7pm
Tuesday, November 26th: at Florida, TBA
Sunday, December 1st: vs. Harvard, 2pm
Friday, December 6th: at Auburn, 6pm
Saturday, December 14th: vs. Drexel in Chartwells Holiday Classic, 12pm
Sunday, December 15th: vs. James Madison or Prairie View A&M in Chartwells Holiday Classic, 12pm or 2:30 pm
Sunday, December 22nd: vs. Texas A&M in Maggie Dixon Classic at Madison Square Garden, 11am
Monday, December 30th: at Delaware, 5pm

Maurice White Cleared To Play At Siena

Siena freshman Maurice White has been cleared by NCAA and will become latest addition to Jimmy Patsos' backcourt. (Photo courtesy of 4 Guys In Blazers)

Jimmy Patsos has received yet another new arrival as he prepares for his first season at the helm at Siena College.

Siena sports information director Jason Rich has just confirmed to A Daly Dose Of Hoops that Maurice White, a 6-3, 200-pound shooting guard, was cleared by the NCAA clearinghouse, and will be eligible for his freshman season when the Saints open at home against Albany on November 8th.

White, a Baltimore native who played his high school basketball at St. Frances Academy in the Charm City, was initially recruited by Patsos and his staff at Loyola before the head coach replaced Mitch Buonaguro in Loudonville this past April. Although he did not travel with Siena on their trip to Montreal due to not having a requisite amount of summer credits, White will compete in the backcourt with fellow freshman Marquis Wright; who Patsos intimated may start at the point guard position early in the year, along with upperclassmen Evan Hymes and Rob Poole. He and Wright also join forwards Lavon Long, Javion Ogunyemi and Mike Wolfe; as well as Coppin State transfer Patrick Cole, who will sit out this season while completing his mandated year in residence, in a six-man recruiting class that Patsos will blend with his returning players in his first campaign in charge of the Saints, who are looking for their first MAAC championship since 2010.

Please continue to follow A Daly Dose Of Hoops for additional news involving Siena College and the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Fordham Season Preview

Freshman guard Jon Severe is already biggest recruit in Tom Pecora era at Fordham, and now Brooklyn native hopes to usher return of prosperity to Rose Hill. (Photo courtesy of Adam Zagoria via

***This is part two of our two-part preview of Fordham's 2013-14 season. For part one, which broke down the Rams' nonconference schedule this past Thursday, click here.

Now in his fourth year at Rose Hill, Fordham head coach Tom Pecora seems to have a fairly confident sense of direction in which his program is headed. Coming off a 7-24 season that saw senior forward Chris Gaston sidelined for several games in Atlantic 10 play due to injury, the Rams managed to survive what had been one of their more difficult schedules in recent memory thanks to stable and largely productive minutes from a backcourt that produced a junior season from Branden Frazier in which the Brooklyn native narrowly missed receiving all-Atlantic 10 honors, and also gave rise to the emergence of Mandell Thomas, who enters his sophomore campaign in the Bronx with mounds of promise to go with his already vast talent.

This season, Gaston has graduated, and the Rams welcome a quintet of five newcomers to Fordham, most notably Jon Severe, who will be mentioned in the following quotes and insights from Tom Pecora as he prepares to lead the residents of the oldest venue in the nation into battle for what will be the 111th season of Fordham University men's basketball:

Jaden Daly: In the backcourt, Branden and Mandell are back among others. How much have they improved in the offseason, and how impressed were you with Mandell's freshman season?

Tom Pecora: Yeah, I thought Mandell was exceptional, especially as the season went on. You know, he was playing his best ball in February, (and) Branden was playing his best in January, he had a rough February. I think we could have found a few more wins had they both been playing, if Branden had continued to play at the pace he was playing at through February. Now, as a senior, he needs to have that complete season. I'm very happy about (the fact) that I think we have great depth in the backcourt, obviously (when) you talk about Jon Severe, and then Chris Whitehead coming in from junior college, he'll be an experienced point guard; and then Bryan Smith now is an upperclassman, so it's time, you know? It's time for these veterans, (and) we'll have three juniors and a senior this year. I think they'll be great leaders and good teammates, and that will make a big difference.

JD: For those that haven't seen Jon, what exactly can he do, and how much will he help this team right away?

TP: Well, that's yet to be seen, but we anticipate him playing a lot of minutes. He can really score the basketball. Obviously, anyone who can score 70 points in two games like he did upstate last year, but he's explosive offensively, he's great in the open court, his shooting range continues to get better and better, (and) he gets into the lane, and he's a better passer than people give him credit for. He has an ability to really distribute the ball, draw defenses, (and) make good decisions with the ball. That will be key, and you know; with every freshman, he's going to have to learn how to guard on this level and he's going to have to learn how to play for contact, and everyone will be bigger and stronger than he's accustomed to, but that's what every freshman in the country goes through. His talent level is exceptional, and he knows (how) to play, so I feel confident about that too. The guys will push him, the veterans are going to push him in the backcourt. He's going to have to come to compete every day, and that's why he'll be, I feel, a really good player.

JD: How about the bigs inside? How much will you lean more on them in this season as opposed to last year, and did losing Chris as long as you did end up being somewhat of a blessing in disguise?

It definitely was, because they got minutes. I think that was obvious at the end of the year, their performance up at Bonnie's (St. Bonaventure) was a good one. They were battling, those three, I mean, (Ryan) Canty had some exceptional games, down at Ole Miss, he had fifteen rebounds. He's got the ability, Ryan, it's a fine line with his aggressiveness. I just want him to be smarter about where and when he gives up his fouls. We need him on the floor. I think Ryan Rhoomes has had a tremendous offseason, he's really worked hard in the weight room, he's worked hard in the gym, (and) we can really see the game developing, and Travion (Leonard) has kept the weight off. He continues to work to get himself in great shape, (and) you know, with Manny Suarez, you have a 6-9 stretch four that can really shoot the basketball and pass the basketball, and that's a key for us the way we play with our four-out offense. Jake Fay will also play a bit of that four spot for us when we want to stretch things out, he's got great shooting range and he's got a good feel for the game as well, so I'm excited about that. I think there's going to be great competition in our frontcourt, and they're all going to have different roles; but if they do what needs to be done, especially defend the post, rebound the basketball, and become tremendous screeners, they have the ability to score the basketball as well, so it will be interesting to see the battle and how this whole thing plays out.

JD: Back to Canty for a second, how is his back doing?

TP: He's doing well. (At) one point, we thought he might need to get an operation, but he's rehabbing it and he's doing well. We thought we might not get him back until mid-November if they had to cut him, (but) they didn't have to do that. He's a big, strong, physical frontcourt guy; as a junior, that people fear because of his physicality and his ability to make plays (and) put a body on every play, but you know he's flying around the rim, especially on the offensive end, you know?

JD: How much more will we see three forwards as opposed to the three-guard set?

TP: Well, I think it depends on the opponent, it depends on the development of Suarez and Fay, they've really been two more conventional threes if you wanted to get out small forwards, and if they develop to the point where they're out playing and we're better served with them on the floor, then you'll see more of them. Once again, we're competing at every position, this year and every year; but when you come back and you have an all-conference level player, then you've got to anticipate him being one of your starters. Right now, I'm going into this with an open training camp. Should Branden Frazier be a starter as a senior? Yeah, he should, but he's not coming off the greatest February in the world. He's got to put that behind him and have a great senior year to solidify that spot, but this is definitely the most depth and the most talent we've ever had, which is the way it should be as you go into year four with a rebuilding program. So, by having this depth, it will be by far the most competitive training camp and preseason we've ever had.

JD: Going into the Atlantic 10 with George Mason coming in, what is your expectation in the conference, particularly on the road, where this program has admittedly struggled?

TP: You've got to walk before you can run, and the thing we've always talked about is having a winning nonconference home record, then having an overall winning record at home, a winning record in conference, and then the next step is to be able to go on the road and win on the road consistently, and that's a challenge, obviously, in this league. I think Mason's a great addition, (and) Davidson the following year will be an exceptional addition, hopefully we don't have anyone else leaving; and if we don't and we're fourteen strong in two years, I still think it's a real good league, but if you're not prepared at the highest level mentally as well as physically, you're not going to win games on the road in this league. I think we can build off last year's win at Bonnie's. I think that's important for them to know that they can go and do that, I mean, our first year, we won at Lehigh, and after the game, (Fordham sports information director) Joe DiBari said something to me about 'this is the first time we've won a road game of any sort in, like, two and a half years.' and that just blew me away. I didn't even look at those kind of numbers, because at Hofstra, we were accustomed to some pretty good success over the last five to seven years, but those are all part of the process that you move forward and as you build something, there's a lot of firsts, and then the thing is, 'can you build off that win at Bonnie's?' and use it as a point of reference. Bonnie's is a tough place to play, and it was a game that mattered a lot to them. If they win that game, they go to the A-10 Tournament, so by us winning, we knocked them out. A lot of people would say that was one of the toughest games to play because they were very highly motivated and we were able to motivate ourselves to go in and be a spoiler, so I think all of that's very, very important. I know that this will be a good team in November, (and) it will be an even better team in February and March, because our youth and the number of talented players we have, I think there's no doubt that they'll continue to get better and better.

Breaking Down Stony Brook's Nonconference Schedule

Senior guard Anthony Jackson returns to backcourt to lead Seawolves in encore following last season's school record 25-win season that saw team reach second round of NIT. (Photo courtesy of Newsday)

Now five months removed from a 25-win season that saw his team pick up their first postseason victory and reach the round of 16 in the National Invitation Tournament, Stony Brook head coach Steve Pikiell intimated that scheduling had become much harder in the wake of the Seawolves continuing to reach new heights as they become a household name across the nation. Regardless of the challenge, Pikiell managed to put together a schedule befitting of a high-major team this season as Stony Brook looks for their fourth America East regular season championship in five years, with the ultimate goal being for the Long Island institution to represent the conference in the NCAA Tournament just fifteen years after transitioning to Division I. Here is a detailed breakdown of each team Stony Brook will face in their fifteen-game non-league slate, with insights and quotes from one of the classiest and most respectful head coaches in the business in Pikiell, who does not get anywhere near enough of the mounds of credit he deserves:

Friday, November 8th at Marist: Stony Brook opens what will be their last season at Pritchard Gym before their on-campus arena's renovation is complete by hosting a Marist team that welcomes a new head coach in Jeff Bower, and also returns several key pieces from last year's team, including 6-10 senior center Adam Kemp and swingman Jay Bowie, whose injury-plagued season kept the Red Foxes from advancing further up the MAAC ladder last year. The Seawolves were 4-0 against MAAC teams last season, with a victory against Marist at McCann Arena that Pikiell called a "war" among those victories. "You know, it's going to be a great home opener," Pikiell said. "Last year could have went either way, and now they have the excitement of a new coach and a new coaching staff. They have a lot of really good returning players, and we're going to be really tested right out of the gate."

Sunday, November 10th vs. Haverford College: The Seawolves welcome the Division III Fords into Suffolk County for what most will consider an in-season exhibition game, but is actually a unique opportunity early in the year for Pikiell to get a feel for his team and personnel. Coming off a 7-17 season last year, Haverford returns three of their top four scorers, including senior forward Brett Cohen, who averaged nearly fifteen points and eight rebounds per game last year. "It gives us another home game," an optimistic Pikiell stated, "which we've really struggled to get anyone to come here and play us. It also gives me a chance to try different lineups on the court during the course of a game. Because it's so early, you're still figuring your team out early in the year. That's why I like playing these games."

Wednesday, November 13th vs. Northeastern: Stony Brook's second game against a postseason team comes against the reigning Colonial Athletic Association regular season champion Huskies, who will retool under head coach Bill Coen after the graduation of team leaders Joel Smith and Jonathan Lee. However, Northeastern still holds several weapons at their disposal, including forwards Quincy Ford and Reggie Spencer, who will be joined this year by Scott Eatherton, who sat out last season transferring from Saint Francis University.

Sunday, November 17th at Indiana: The Seawolves get perhaps their stiffest test in the regular season in this 2K Sports Classic preliminary round game, where they travel to Assembly Hall in Bloomington to take on Tom Crean and the Hoosiers, who will look to shed the disappointment from their Sweet 16 loss to Syracuse last season after spending most of the year as the No. 1 team in the nation. Several key members of last year's team are gone, including Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller, the second and fourth overall picks in the NBA Draft, respectively; as well as swingman Christian Watford and sharpshooter Jordan Hulls. However, Crean has exceptional talent to spare, with sophomore point guard Yogi Ferrell poised to become the best player at his position in the Big Ten, while senior wing Will Sheehey will benefit greatly from the arrival of 6-9 freshman Noah Vonleh, who comes to Indiana with a great deal of hype to accompany his phenomenal talent.

Friday, November 22nd vs. Toledo: The first of three 2K Sports Classic subregional games from Detroit comes against the Rockets, a team already picked by many to win the Mid-American Conference this season. A guard-oriented team coached by Tod Kowalczyk, Toledo is paced by senior Rian Pearson, who led the team by averaging almost eighteen points and seven rebounds per game; as well as junior point guard Julius Brown, an underrated 5-10 dynamo who averaged six assists per game last year. The Rockets return four of their five starters, and welcome Justin Drummond to the program after the 2012 MAAC Sixth Man of the Year sat out last season upon transferring from Loyola.

Saturday, November 23rd vs. Florida Atlantic: Sometimes it's easy for people to forget the Owls considering they compete in a professional sports market and are in a mid-major league in the Sun Belt Conference, but Florida Atlantic gets instant credibility when one sees that the program is coached by Mike Jarvis, who coached Patrick Ewing in high school in Boston before going on to achieve his greatest success in the 1990s at George Washington and later at St. John's, whom he took to the Elite Eight in 1999. This year will be a true test of Jarvis' coaching ability, considering both of his leading scorers have left, forcing Argentine import Pablo Bertone to carry the team as he enters his junior season. On the positive side, the lack of a senior on the Owls' roster will enable to Jarvis to build for another run at an NCAA Tournament in the 2014-15 campaign.

Sunday, November 24th at Detroit: The Titans, now one year removed from their 2012 Horizon League championship, are also in somewhat of a rebuilding state after the graduation of Nick Minnerath and Doug Anderson; as well as the reported transfer of Canadian shooting specialist Jason Calliste, and they also lose the services of Ray McCallum. The senior point guard and coach's son was drafted by the Sacramento Kings in the second round of June's NBA Draft, and made a strong enough impression on their Summer League squad to earn a three-year contract. Detroit also has some NBA lineage on their roster in the form of Juwan Howard Jr., who enters his third season following a year in which he averaged over seven points per game and shot 37 percent from three-point range.

Tuesday, November 26th at Canisius: Stony Brook plays their second straight game against a coach's son, as senior point guard Billy Baron leads his father Jim's Golden Griffins into a season in which they will once again be a contender in the MAAC. Canisius loses Harold Washington and Isaac Sosa, but returns their other two starters up front in senior forwards Jordan Heath and Chris Manhertz. Heath's younger brother Josiah will have an even bigger role on this team this season, as will senior guard Chris Perez, who is eligible immediately after transferring from Stetson.

Pikiell on playing eight games in nineteen days to open the season:
"We have an unbelievable stretch right there against some really good, successful teams. I figure by December 1st, we'll know a lot about our basketball team after being tested against Northeastern, at Indiana, at Detroit, at Canisius. One of the great things about my program about the last four of five years is what I call 'quality depth.' We have a deep bench, and with this stretch, it helps to have that kind of depth in your program. Our guys have done a great job of being in shape, and they'll continue that. I take a lot of pride in us being a well-conditioned team that defends for 40 minutes. I'm excited about that, and I think that's one of our strengths. We have two or three guys at every position, so injuries don't decimate us either. We get a key injury here or there, we're still able to compete at a pretty good level."

Sunday, December 1st vs. St. Francis College: Glenn Braica and the Terriers return the favor in this matchup by coming to Pritchard one year after entertaining Stony Brook in Brooklyn Heights in what served as a coming-out party for shooting guard Dave Coley, who was instrumental in the Seawolves' 77-61 victory. St. Francis will need to reload after losing senior forwards Akeem Johnson and Travis Nichols, but junior power forward Jalen Cannon remains a star in the making alongside the backcourt of junior Brent Jones and senior Englishman Ben Mockford. "This should be an exciting game," Pikiell said with regard to what will be his team's first home game in eighteen days. "St. Francis is always a war, and coming off all the road trips we have, we should be really excited to be playing in our gym again."

Wednesday, December 4th vs. Fairleigh Dickinson: The Knights usher in a new era this season with new coach Greg Herenda, who will essentially have to rebuild the team from scratch following the departures of seniors Kinu Rochford, Melquan Bolding and Lonnie Robinson. Danish import Mathias Seilund, who was one of FDU's biggest role players last season, will now have to step up and become the team leader for New Jersey's sole Northeast Conference representative.

Saturday, December 7th vs. La Salle: Stony Brook has the honor of participating in the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden for the second time in three years, and will open a doubleheader also featuring St. John's and Fordham by drawing Dr. John Giannini and the Explorers, who return almost everyone from last season's improbable Sweet 16 run. Despite losing Ramon Galloway, La Salle remains a force to be reckoned with in the backcourt thanks to Tyreek Duren, Sam Mills, and NCAA Tournament hero Tyrone Garland, while Steve Zack and Jerrell Wright pick up the pieces inside the paint. "I'll tell you, we've come a long way," said Pikiell in regard to his program's exposure enabling them to be invited to the Holiday Festival. "It's an exciting opportunity because we get to play a really good La Salle team and get to play in the 'World's Most Famous Arena.' Our kids are excited about being part of a doubleheader. It will be a great opportunity to play on national TV."

Thursday, December 19th at Loyola (Maryland): The Seawolves travel to Reitz Arena in Baltimore to meet the Greyhounds, who leave the MAAC for the Patriot League and welcome a new coach in former assistant G.G. Smith after Jimmy Patsos replaced Mitch Buonaguro at Siena in April, in the first game of a four-year series. Smith will have a majority of new faces on his roster this season following the graduations of Erik Etherly, Robert Olson and Anthony Winbush among others, but senior point guard Dylon Cormier returns as the Greyhounds' team leader while R.J. Williams joins him in the backcourt and Jordan Latham steps into Etherly's role in the paint. Movie buffs will instantly recognize the name of redshirt freshman guard Sean Tuohy Jr., as he is the son of Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, whose adoption of Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher was chronicled in the Academy Award-winning film "The Blind Side." "We always try to get down to Maryland," Pikiell informed us. "We do a good job recruiting in that area, (Tommy Brenton, the Seawolves' all-time rebound and assist leader, hails from Columbia, Maryland) and it should be a great game for us."

Sunday, December 22nd vs. Cornell: Stony Brook's final home game before America East play opens is a return match of a game contested last year against Bill Courtney and the Big Red at Newman Arena in Ithaca. Leading scorer and rebounder Shonn Miller returns for his senior season, with sophomore Nolan Cressler and junior Devin Cherry primed for breakout seasons in Cornell's backcourt.

Friday, January 3rd at Virginia Commonwealth: In what will be one of the more intriguing games on Stony Brook's ledger, the Seawolves will make the trip to the Siegel Center in Richmond to meet Shaka Smart and his patented "Havoc" defense that the Rams have used to make them a unique and formidable opponent. Guards Darius Theus and Troy Daniels have graduated, but VCU's backcourt depth will more than make up for the losses, as Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year Briante Weber moves into the starting point guard position alongside Rob Brandenberg, while Jordan Burgess; whose older brother Bradford was an integral part of the Rams' 2011 Final Four run, will compete with Melvin Johnson for the third guard spot. Up front, swingman Treveon Graham and underrated power forward Juvonte Reddic will return their blend of aggressive rebounding and natural athleticism to make VCU the favorite to cut down the nets in the Atlantic 10 this season.

Wednesday, January 8th at Columbia: Stony Brook makes the journey through Queens and into Levien Gym to play the Lions in Manhattan in their final contest before league play. Now in his fourth year at Columbia, Kyle Smith loses point guard Brian Barbour, but has a pair of qualified shooters in sophomore Grant Mullins and junior Steve Frankoski to minimize the loss of his floor general. Pay close attention to junior forward Alex Rosenberg this season. A 6-7, 215-pounder, Rosenberg may be undersized as far as typical power forwards go, but with Mark Cisco having graduated, the New Jersey native becomes the most experienced member of the frontcourt, and should be in line for a season that, with all the right breaks, should produce all-Ivy League honors come March.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Breaking Down Fordham's Nonconference Schedule

After an admittedly difficult nonconference schedule last season, Tom Pecora has much more manageable 13-game slate as he prepares for fourth season at Fordham. (Photo courtesy of Newsday)

On several occasions, Fordham head coach Tom Pecora did not shy away from the difficulty of the Rams' nonconference schedule; which featured just three home games amid high-major opponents such as Pittsburgh, Connecticut and St. John's, as well as road trips to Texas State and Lehigh among others, calling the 15-game precursor to Atlantic 10 play "rough" or "brutal" on more than one occasion throughout the season, one that saw his Fordham team go 7-24 while fighting the injury bug, particularly with senior forward Chris Gaston, who graduated as one of the top ten scorers and rebounders in program history.

This season, however, Pecora has several more reasons to smile. For one, he will have the benefit of an exhibition game to see how well his highly touted recruiting class meshes with the returning players, as Fordham will host the Northwood University coached by Rollie Massimino; who gave Pecora his start in the college coaching ranks, on November 1st. In addition, his goal of scheduling more home games has come to fruition, with the Rams playing seven of their thirteen non-league contests at Rose Hill Gym, and a Holiday Festival meeting with St. John's inside Madison Square Garden that has become a new tradition of sorts for the Bronx institution. In fact, Fordham's longest road trip before league play comes up relatively early on the schedule, when Pecora guides his squad into the Carrier Dome to face Jim Boeheim and Syracuse on November 12th in their second game of the year. Here's an in-depth breakdown of everyone the Rams will face in the first two months of the season, starting with their opener on November 8th, with quotes and insights from the fourth-year head man in what will be the first half of a two-part Fordham season preview:

Pecora's thoughts on the schedule overall:
"Well, I think we're moving in the right direction. This is where we need to be. Last year's schedule, we played the most road games of anyone in the country, we played 20 of 31 games on the road last season. That's crazy to do with a veteran team, much less a young team like we had last year. So as we move forward and change the culture here at Fordham, part of it is our recruiting philosophy and doing the things we need to do to get games, and making sure we have an opportunity to play a good number of home games in the nonconference so we can move into the A-10; we all know how tough a conference that is, with a winning record and with some confidence, and teach these young guys how to win basketball games. I wanted to not be on the road and not get beat up on the road physically from all the travel as well. Syracuse is our longest trip, we don't need to fly in our nonconference schedule."

On playing seven home games before Atlantic 10 play:
"We feel very confident playing at Rose Hill, we've had great success there in nonconference games especially, so as we move forward, I think you'll see us play; our goal is to get eight or nine nonconference home games each season out of the thirteen, or it could be eleven if the league moves to eighteen conference games."

On Fordham's exhibition game against Northwood University:
"With a grain of salt, I think there's certain things you'll look at in those games that you want to work on, there's certain combinations, but I don't know at this point where we'll be at with our health, who we'll put on the floor, who may need to get more minutes. I think it'll be a good challenge, they're going to probably be ranked in the top five in the country in the NAIA, and he (head coach Rollie Massimino) is going to coach them up."

Friday, November 8th vs. Saint Francis University: The Rams christen their 111th season against the Red Flash of Pennsylvania, who come to Rose Hill for the first time since 2006 in what will be the fourth meeting between the two schools. Second-year head coach Rob Krimmel will be looking to rebound from a 5-24 season in his maiden voyage at the helm, and will do so without a senior on his squad after Umar Shannon transferred to Quinnipiac. In his absence, junior forward Earl Brown, who averaged ten points and eight rebounds per game on the way to earning Most Improved Player honors in the Northeast Conference, will carry the load inside while Canadian sharpshooter Ben Millaud-Meunier hopes to build on a successful freshman season that saw him shoot a staggering 48 percent from three-point range. "Every game is going to be a test for us," Pecora intimated, "because we have to start playing like a more mature basketball team and take care of business night in and night out no matter who we're squaring off against. I'm excited about playing at home for our opener."

Tuesday, November 12th at Syracuse: The Orange have a new home in the ACC, and will have a new backcourt following the graduation of Brandon Triche and Michael Carter-Williams' selection by the Philadelphia 76ers in June's NBA Draft. Look for Trevor Cooney to have a breakout season alongside Duke expatriate Michael Gbinije and freshman point guard Tyler Ennis, who played at St. Benedict's Prep prior to committing to Syracuse. Up front, Boeheim remains loaded with Rakeem Christmas and Baye Keita anchoring the world-famous 2-3 zone defense in the middle while DaJuan Coleman serves as their understudy, and with Jerami Grant giving the Orange a second burst of freakish athleticism on the wing alongside one of the most underrated players in the nation in C.J. Fair, it is not out of the question to suggest Syracuse will contend for a conference championship in their new home. "The good thing about going up there is you're not going to see a better zone all year," Pecora said, "so you get to do a lot of prep for their zone and teaching our offense the zone concept, and I think that can be a huge advantage."

Friday, November 15th at Lehigh: Fordham renews its budding rivalry with the Mountain Hawks for the fourth consecutive season, with Dr. Brett Reed leading his Patriot League darlings into Rose Hill once again. This year will be somewhat of a rebuilding season for Lehigh now that all-time program great C.J. McCollum is now a Portland Trail Blazer, while forwards Gabe Knutson and Holden Greiner have also graduated following careers that will be forever headlined by the Mountain Hawks' historic upset of Duke as a No. 15 seed in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Senior point guard Mackey McKnight, who averaged nearly five assists per game last season, remains in the backcourt to shoulder most of the offensive responsibilities, with senior shooting specialist B.J. Bailey expected to improve on an average of eight points per game and 47 percent from three-point range. "We'll get them back at our place, and I think Friday nights at Rose Hill will be rocking," an optimistic Pecora said about his team's third contest of the season.

Saturday, November 23rd vs. Sacred Heart: The Rams welcome a new coach into Rose Hill for this contest, as longtime Pioneer head man Dave Bike has retired, leaving the program in the hands of his longtime deputy Anthony Latina. In addition, Sacred Heart now begins life without one of the top scorers in the nation in Shane Gibson, but point guard Phil Gaetano will find a way to make those around him better as he enters his junior season on the heels of a sophomore campaign that saw the Connecticut native rank among the top five in the nation with an average of nearly eight assists per game. While Louis Montes and rising star Tevin Falzon will account for most of the Pioneer offense, Sacred Heart's biggest key this season will be getting Chris Evans and Evan Kelley, both of whom were injured all of last year, back to 100 percent.

Tuesday, November 26th at Manhattan: The 105th Battle of the Bronx makes its return to Draddy Gym for the first time since the Jaspers routed Fordham by an 81-47 count on December 7, 2011. This year, third-year head coach Steve Masiello has Manhattan in position to be among the top two teams in the MAAC, with George Beamon back for his senior season after a medical redshirt sacrificed what would have been his final campaign last year, as well as Maryland castoff Ashton Pankey, who is now eligible and will team with Rhamel Brown to form one of the most imposing frontcourts in the MAAC. Alongside Beamon, Michael Alvarado is on the precipice of a breakout senior campaign, and his performance during the Jaspers' trip to the Bahamas earned rave reviews from Masiello. With sharpshooter Shane Richards and versatile big man Emmy Andujar back for their sophomore and junior seasons on a team that intends to play much faster than they did last season, not to mention a deep bench, Fordham could be seeing an NCAA Tournament team when they arrive in Riverdale. "I thought our performance against them last year without Chris (Gaston) was a good one," Pecora said. "I think (in) the last minute and a half, Mike Alvarado took the game over, he made a couple of plays off high ball screens, and we had two freshmen involved in that ball screen, and we didn't defend it the way we had hoped to. It's a tremendous game, it's the 105th year the game is being played, it's a great New York rivalry, and records are thrown out the window on that night."

Wednesday, December 4th vs. Furman: The matchup with the Paladins will be just the second between the two programs, with the Rams taking the lone previous meeting in the 1971 NCAA Tournament. Furman comes in with a solid backcourt led by sophomore point guard Stephen Croone and senior shooter Charlie Reddick, who averaged 37 percent from beyond the arc. Sophomore Larry Wideman will also be looking to improve on a rookie season that saw him average nearly eight points in 25 minutes per game. Baseball fans may recognize walk-on Aaron O'Neill on Furman's bench, as he is the oldest son of New York Yankee legend Paul O'Neill.

Saturday, December 7th at St. John's: The Rams and Red Storm meet one another for the fifth consecutive season, and third straight in the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden. Pecora is no stranger to defeating the Johnnies, having done so at Hofstra before recapturing the magic in his first season at Fordham, when the Rams erased a 21-point second-half deficit with two 16-0 runs to upset St. John's 84-81 as a sellout Rose Hill crowd stormed the court following the final buzzer. This year, however, the Red Storm come in as a team expected to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament given that head coach Steve Lavin has everyone coming back with the exception of seldom-used swingman Amir Garrett. The Johnnies' inside-outside scoring duo of reigning Big East Rookie of the Year JaKarr Sampson and D'Angelo Harrison will give each of their opponents fits during games, not to mention the shot blocking prowess of Chris Obekpa, who set a school record with eleven rejections against the Rams a year ago. Moreover, St. John's welcomes freshman point guard Rysheed Jordan and Dominican big man Orlando Sanchez to a rotation that will also return God'sgift Achiuwa after the Nigerian forward redshirted last season. "Any time you get an opportunity to play at the Garden, it's special, we all know that," Pecora proclaimed. "Obviously the Garden is an advantage for them, it's their home court, but we'll prepare for them the same way we have in the past."

Pecora on playing St. John's:
"It's an important game...we're New York's Atlantic 10 team, and they're New York's Big East team. I think it's a game that needs to be played all the time. Obviously, I'd prefer for it to be a home-and-home series, but it hasn't gotten to that point yet. Maybe somewhere down the line, that'll be something that's doable."

Tuesday, November 10th at Colgate: Two former Patriot League rivals collide for the first time since the Raiders defeated Fordham in that conference's championship game eighteen years ago to advance to the 1995 NCAA Tournament. Led by Canadian senior forward Murphy Burnatowski, Colgate's backcourt will once again include junior point guard Luke Roh; who was also the team's leading rebounder last season, and senior three-point specialist Pat Moore. Pay close attention to Monmouth transfer Austin Tillotson, a junior who will make an immediate impact.

Saturday, December 14th vs. Howard: The Bison come to Rose Hill for the first time ever, and head coach Kevin Nickelberry will have the task of replacing each of his three leading scorers from last season. The departures will force junior wing Prince Okoroh to pick up the slack on offense while also serving as a team leader to a young roster that features nine freshmen and just one senior in seldom-used forward Theodore Boyomo.

Saturday, December 21st at Monmouth: The Hawks welcome Fordham to New Jersey as the two teams play the third game in a four-year series, and Monmouth will seek to avenge an 82-71 Ram win at Rose Hill on New Year's Eve last season. Now a member of the MAAC, King Rice's squad has gotten younger; but bigger as well, as junior swingman Andrew Nicholas leads a team that welcomes Towson transfer Deon Jones into the fold. The Hawks' backcourt loses Dion Nesmith and Jesse Steele from last season, but still retains the services of sharpshooter Christian White, who can have a breakout season if he stays healthy.

Monday, December 23rd vs. Loyola (Illinois): For the second straight game, Fordham will lock horns with a program that changed conference affiliations in the offseason, as Loyola left the Horizon League for the Missouri Valley following Creighton's departure to the Big East. Leading scorer and rebounder Christian Thomas, not to be confused with the former New York Rangers prospect of the same name, returns for his junior season on the wing to lead the Ramblers, while sophomore Jeff White will take over the point guard duties after averaging nearly three assists per game off the bench. Fellow sophomore guard Devon Turk will shoot to make an impact from beyond the arc, where he connected on 43 percent of his shots last season.

Saturday, December 28th vs. Harvard: The last time Tommy Amaker and the Crimson came to Rose Hill, they were a Top 25 program that was upset by the Rams. Two years later, Harvard is beyond loaded as they return nearly everyone from last season's squad that picked up the first NCAA Tournament win in Ivy League history when the Crimson shocked New Mexico. Sophomore point guard Siyani Chambers could very well be the best player at his position that most people have never heard of, while swingmen Wesley Saunders and Laurent Rivard are double-figure scorers waiting to explode while Steve Moundou-Missi serves as a quintessential "glue guy." Harvard also welcomes back Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry for their final seasons after the two withdrew following an academic incident to preserve their eligibility.

Monday, December 30th at Siena: The Rams wrap up their nonconference slate with a trip to the Times Union Center to renew the third game in a four-year series with the Saints, who welcome a new head coach in Jimmy Patsos to Loudonville. Despite losing O.D. Anosike to graduation, Siena still has a core of veteran leadership returning, headlined by guards Evan Hymes and Rob Poole, who will mentor freshman Marquis Wright as he starts the season at point guard. In the frontcourt, Brett Bisping will likely start early for the Saints, while incoming freshman Lavon Long has been praised by Patsos throughout the offseason as someone who can "flat out play."

Pecora on playing two games in three days at end of nonconference season:
"I think it's good, it's not bad to actually play back-to-back one night to prepare for a tournament scenario like we'll expect at Barclays in March, but I think having that one-day turnaround and one day to prepare is a good thing. I think the advantage of that is after that, we do have a pretty good break prior to going into A-10 play."

***The second half of our Fordham season preview, featuring quotes from Tom Pecora about his returning players and incoming recruiting class, will be published on Monday.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Breaking Down Marist's Nonconference Schedule

McCann Arena in Poughkeepsie will host just two nonconference home games as Marist plays a schedule that includes trips to Saint Joseph's, Providence and Virgin Islands for Paradise Jam. (Photo courtesy of Marist College)

Four months ago, Marist College hired Jeff Bower to replace Chuck Martin, and in that time, the former head coach and general manager of the franchise now known as the New Orleans Pelicans has gradually built his roster and his program into one that will attempt to turn heads while competing for a MAAC championship to match the nine that the Marist women have won under the direction of head coach Brian Giorgis.

The Red Foxes will play nine nonconference games to accommodate their 20-game MAAC schedule, and barring a home game to open conference play in December, will not play in Poughkeepsie until December 20th. Here is a look at what Marist faces leading into the conference portion of their schedule:

Bower's thoughts on the schedule overall:
"The schedule that was released is certainly challenging, and will have its difficult parts to it. We're looking forward to playing quality opponents, and this will give us an indication of where we're at, and where we need to improve early in the season. Obviously it's challenging, but we think it's going to prepare us for our competition in the Metro Atlantic."

Friday, November 8th at Stony Brook: Marist opens the season against four straight postseason teams, starting with Steve Pikiell and the Seawolves, who won their third America East regular season championship in the last four seasons. Versatile forward Tommy Brenton has graduated and is now playing in Japan, but guards Anthony Jackson and Dave Coley remain to form a three-headed scoring monster that is led by sophomore forward Jameel Warney, the reigning America East Rookie of the Year who could play at any level. Sophomore guard Carson "Tre" Puriefoy will see his role expanded alongside Jackson and Coley, while Eric McAlister will continue to do yeoman's work under the boards inside for Stony Brook. "I think the thing we'll be looking for will be continued improvement," Bower said when asked what he could take away from Marist's opener. "That's going to be a difficult game, but we understand that. We want to establish a style of play and level of play that we can build on."

Wednesday, November 13 at Saint Joseph's: Phil Martelli and the Hawks lose the services of guard Carl Jones and freakishly long forward C.J. Aiken, but St. Joe's retains shooting specialist Langston Galloway, who now anchors the backcourt in his senior season while Chris Wilson steps up to take over for Jones at the point. The Hawks' frontcourt should not miss a beat either, with Ronald Roberts and Hofstra expatriate Halil Kanacevic both returning, and both are capable of posting a double-double on any given night.

Saturday, November 16th at Providence: Watch out for Ed Cooley and the Friars this season, as they will be the proverbial sleeper that surprises a lot of people. With Bryce Cotton returning for his senior season after leading the Big East in scoring a year ago, the Friars have a reliable scorer in the backcourt that will be aided by the natural passing ability of sophomore Kris Dunn. In the paint, junior forward LaDontae Henton will team with Kadeem Batts to form an imposing duo under the boards that will complement the play of Josh Fortune on the wing. Providence also welcomes Wake Forest transfer Carson Desrosiers and NC State castoff Tyler Harris to their frontcourt, as well as Top 100 recruit Brandon Austin, who will also make an immediate impact.

Friday, November 22nd vs. Maryland: Marist opens the Paradise Jam against Mark Turgeon and the Terps, who just missed out on an NCAA Tournament at-large spot and made up for it with a run to the NIT semifinals. Maryland's backcourt is loaded with Nick Faust returning along with Seth Allen, while highly touted freshman Roddy Peters joins them. Up front, Michigan transfer Evan Smotrycz is once again eligible, and will join Jake Layman and Dez Wells on the wings while Charles Mitchell and sophomore Shaquille Cleare prove themselves as two of the nation's most underrated rebounders. "One of our goals from a scheduling standpoint is to expose our players to high-level competition in venues they want to play in," said Bower. "I think the Paradise Jam helps from a recruiting standpoint by being a team that's invited to participate, and it's the type of schedule that players want to take part in."

Saturday, November 23rd-Monday, November 25th: TBD in Paradise Jam

Sunday, December 15th at College of Charleston: Following the Paradise Jam, final exams, and the start of MAAC play, Marist heads to South Carolina to take on Doug Wojcik and the Cougars, who join the Colonial Athletic Association this season after a long run in the Southern Conference. Junior guard Anthony Stitt returns as the Cougars' top returning scorer, and brings a lethal outside shot with him that he connected on at a 40 percent clip last season. Up front, the trio of junior Adjehi Baru and seniors Willis Hall and Anthony Thomas will seek to improve their combined totals of 26 points and over 19 rebounds per game.

Friday, December 20th vs. Bucknell: The first of two nonconference home games to close out the non-league portion of the schedule comes against Dave Paulsen and the Bison, who will defend their Patriot League title without Mike Muscala and Bryson Johnson, both of whom are now playing professionally. Bucknell does retain swingman Cameron Ayers, the son of former Ohio State coach Randy, who enters his junior season.

Sunday, December 22nd vs. Penn: Marist closes its non-league slate against Jerome Allen and the Quakers, who retain leading scorer Fran Dougherty, who will be joined by Henry Brooks and Darien Nelson-Henry up front as Penn looks to move up in the Ivy League standings. In the backcourt, Zack Rosen and Tyler Bernardini are gone, but in their place stand two more than capable successors in senior Miles Cartwright and sophomore Tony Hicks.

Bower on MAAC play:
"It will be a new experience for all the guys on our team, whether they're an incoming freshman or a returning senior. We go into it with high hopes, but we understand that the rate of improvement and the rate of progress is going to determine where we get to by the end of the year. The guys have shown great attitudes, a willingness to work, and an eagerness to get better, and that will be the foundation that we build on from the beginning, and then we'll grow with each set of experiences that we gain."

On player improvement:
"I think they all have embraced the intensity we want to work at. They've shown improvement in their games, and I've been impressed with them collectively as a group. I think they're guys that we're going to look to, and their work ethic should be followed."

On newcomers Nick Colletta and Kentrall Brooks:
"They're two different players. Kentrall is long, lean and athletic, is very quick off his feet and can run the floor. He'll be able to give us something in a variety of areas as he gains strength and experience. Nick Colletta probably has a more defined skill set right now as an off guard, and has an ability to shoot the ball with range really well. He also has a good understanding of how to play and how to play with teammates. Both of them are totally different, and both of them will be able to provide us with additional depth as they get comfortable within our system."

On not playing a home game until December:
"Our games are being played on the road, but we're coming home after every game just about. We really don't have any extended trips besides the Paradise Jam, so I'm not looking at it as being on the road for a month to two months. Obviously, we loom forward to playing at home, but we're going to treat each game as one game and each trip as one trip. I think it's going to give us a chance to establish processes and procedures for road travel that can create a comfort zone for us."

On what to expect from a Jeff Bower team:
"We want to be a team that plays extremely hard, that plays very well together, and is able to blend the strengths of each individual player or position into a group that is stronger than its individual parts. That's our challenge, and that's what we're going to be working on from the start of practice. How do we take the individual talents that we do possess and turn that into team results? That's what I think fans will see, and I think fans will enjoy watching the effort that our guys put forth, and the improvement they'll show from the beginning of the season onward."

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Fordham Releases Nonconference Schedule

Now a senior, Branden Frazier leads Fordham into fourth season under Tom Pecora in what could be a year in which Rams finally turn corner in Atlantic 10. (Photo courtesy of the New York Daily News)

Following a 7-24 season that featured one of the hardest schedules in the nation, the wheels are in motion for Tom Pecora and Fordham to turn the corner and lead the Rams closer to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1992.

Several times last season, Pecora told us that he would have liked to get more home games at Rose Hill Gym after Fordham had just three home games before Atlantic 10 play last season. Fortunately for the fourth-year head man, the Rams have seven games in the Bronx before conference play begins in January, as well as a November 1st exhibition game against Northwood University, led by one of Pecora's mentors, Rollie Massimino.

The Rams officially christen their 111th campaign with a home game on November 8th against Saint Francis University before traveling to the Carrier Dome on November 12th to meet Jim Boeheim and Syracuse. Three days later, the Rams are back at Rose Hill to take on Lehigh, with Fordham remaining home to take on Sacred Heart on November 23rd. Following the two-game homestand, the Rams will make the trek to Draddy Gym on November 26th to meet Manhattan in the 105th Battle of the Bronx, and will look to avenge the last meeting in Riverdale, which resulted in an 81-47 Jasper win.

Fordham returns home on December 4th to take on Furman, with St. John's waiting in the wings three days later in the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden on December 7th. The matchup with the Red Storm will be the fifth in as many seasons between the two schools, and third consecutive at the "World's Most Famous Arena." Three days later, the Rams will travel to Colgate before returning to Rose Hill for a December 14th showdown with Howard.

The Rams will next take the court on December 21st, when they travel to New Jersey to play the third game of a four-year series with Monmouth, with Loyola (Illinois) coming to Rose Hill two days later. This will be the second straight season in which Fordham will play on the road December 21st and at home on the 23rd, as the Rams traveled to Hartford to play Connecticut before coming home to host Siena. Following the Loyola game, Fordham hosts Harvard on December 28th before hitting the road for their final nonconference game, a December 30th meeting with Jimmy Patsos and Siena.

2013-14 Fordham University Nonconference Schedule (all times TBA)
Friday, November 1st: Exhibition vs. Northwood University
Friday, November 8th: vs. Saint Francis University
Tuesday, November 12th: at Syracuse
Friday, November 15th: vs. Lehigh
Saturday, November 23rd: vs. Sacred Heart
Tuesday, November 26th: at Manhattan (Battle of the Bronx)
Wednesday, December 4th: vs. Furman
Saturday, December 7th: at St. John's (Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden)
Tuesday, December 10th: at Colgate
Saturday, December 14th: vs. Howard
Saturday, December 21st: at Monmouth
Monday, December 23rd: vs. Loyola (Illinois)
Saturday, December 28th: vs. Harvard
Monday, December 30th: at Siena