Sunday, August 31, 2014

Canisius Releases Full Schedule

Jim Baron adjusts to life without son Billy as Canisius will play schedule that allows for several early wins. (Photo courtesy of Canisius College)

Jim Baron's arrival at Canisius has brought success the Golden Griffins have not seen since the mid-1990s, when a largely unknown John Beilein brought the Buffalo institution to the NCAA Tournament en route to making a bigger name for himself at Richmond, and ultimately, West Virginia and Michigan. Nearly two decades later, Baron has done what Mike MacDonald and Tom Parrotta before him could not: Lead the Griffs to the postseason and manage to keep them in contention despite losing his son Billy, the MAAC Player of the Year last season.

Canisius released its schedule last week, and it is a slate conducive to early wins and opportunities for a much younger team to prove itself going into MAAC play, starting with their November 15 season opener against John Becker and Vermont. Road trips to Lehigh, (November 18) St. Bonaventure (November 22) and Cornell (November 26) ensue before the Griffs take on Bobby Hurley and Buffalo inside the First Niagara Center on November 29 as part of the Big 4 Basketball Classic.

The Golden Griffins start MAAC play on December 3 with a journey to Saint Peter's before continuing on the road three days later against local adversary Niagara in the latest installment of the "Battle of the Bridge." A December 13 trek to Massachusetts to face Derek Kellogg's Minutemen precedes a three-game homestand that takes Canisius through both non-league play and 2014, closing the year against Stony Brook, (December 18) Holy Cross (December 21) and UMKC (December 30) before resuming MAAC play with two more home games against Monmouth on January 2 and reigning conference champion Manhattan on January 4.

A road swing to southern New York to meet Marist (January 8) and Iona (January 10) is on deck before the Griffs return home on January 16 to take on Jimmy Patsos and Siena before Iona comes to Buffalo to complete their home-and-home series two days later. Road games against Fairfield (January 22) and Rider (January 24) follow before Quinnipiac and Marist make their way to the Koessler Athletic Center on January 30 and February 1, respectively. Manhattan (February 6) and Monmouth (February 8) will welcome Canisius onto their home floors before Rider comes to western New York on February 13, with Saint Peter's following suit two days later.

Siena (February 19) and Quinnipiac (February 21) will host Canisius on their final regular season road trip, with the second "Battle of the Bridge" against Niagara taking place on February 24 before the Griffs open their doors to Fairfield to conclude the regular season on February 27.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hofstra Releases Nonconference Schedule

Joe Mihalich, who welcomes three transfers this season, should see significant improvement at Hofstra. (Photo courtesy of Hofstra University)

Following a year of adjustment from the low point of the Mo Cassara era to a talented yet thin roster, Joe Mihalich has a full plate this season at Hofstra, and the coach should reap the rewards sooner rather than later after the Pride released its nonconference schedule.

Hofstra will open the season on November 14 on its home court at the Mack Sports Complex against Jacksonville, with a trip to Raleigh to face North Carolina State on deck three days later.

November 21 will feature arguably the most hyped nonconference matchup in recent years in Hempstead, as the Pride will host Stony Brook in a revival of the rivalry between the two Long Island schools, which had notoriously avoided one another during the tenure of former Stony Brook athletic director Jack Hayes and Jim Fiore. The meeting with Steve Pikiell and the Seawolves will be Hofstra's first in six years, when Tom Pecora scored a 61-56 victory in the 22nd and most recent encounter between the two schools. Wagner comes to Nassau County two days later before the Pride travel to South Florida (November 25) and Jackson State (November 28) in the last contests of the season's initial month.

December opens for Hofstra on the 2nd of the month when Norfolk State comes into town, with journeys to Applachian State and Coppin State awaiting the Pride on December 7 and 10, respectively. A ten-day hiatus precedes Hofstra's final two non-league home affairs, which come against Columbia (December 20) and La Salle; (December 23) for whom Mihalich was an assistant coach for 17 years prior to becoming the head coach at Niagara, where he spent 15 seasons before replacing Cassara.

Hofstra makes its return to Brooklyn's Barclays Center on December 28 to square off against LIU Brooklyn before closing out 2014 and its non-CAA ledger on December 31 against Central Connecticut State in a return game from last year that will take place at the Detrick Gymnasium in New Britain.

Niagara Releases Full Schedule

Chris Casey enters year two at Niagara with bright future and winnable games in schedule. (Photo courtesy of Big Apple Buckets)

After a challenging first season on Monteagle Ridge, Chris Casey has reloaded and rebuilt, and will have more than his share of opportunities to contend early at Niagara in year two.

"Our nonconference schedule will, by design, challenge our very young team," Casey intimated as the Purple Eagles released their full schedule earlier this afternoon. "We expect our players to gain experience as they move through the schedule and improve each game."

Niagara christens the 2014-15 season at the Petersen Center against Pittsburgh on November 14 before opening MAAC play with an uncharacteristically early December 20 affair at Saint Peter's. Two days later, Hartford will visit the Gallagher Center to contest the Purple Eagles' home opener, with St. Bonaventure playing a neutral site game at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo on November 29.

Casey opens the month of December by reconnecting with his past in the form of St. John's, where he was a former assistant coach under Norm Roberts, when his team comes to Carnesecca Arena on December 2 to battle Steve Lavin and the Red Storm. Casey was an assistant on the St. John's bench the last time Niagara played in Queens, when Charron Fisher led Joe Mihalich to a 77-73 victory on December 15, 2007.

Niagara's second MAAC game comes at home on December 6th in the "Battle of the Bridge" against local foe Canisius. Road trips to Davidson (December 13) and Buffalo (December 19) precede a four-game homestand in which Arkansas State (December 23) and Albany (December 30) serve as the Purple Eagles' penultimate non-league tuneups prior to hosting reigning conference champion Manhattan (January 2) and Monmouth (January 4) to ring in 2015.

A final nonconference date, against Penn on January 13, starts a three-game homestand that also sees Iona (January 16) and Siena (January 18) come to the Gallagher Center. Return matches on the road with Monmouth (January 23) and Iona (January 25) are next on the ledger before Marist (January 30) and Quinnipiac (February 1) come to western New York, only to see Niagara return the favor on February 6 and 8 against the Red Foxes and Bobcats, respectively.

Saint Peter's and Rider make their Buffalo pilgrimage on February 13 and 15, with a road journey to Fairfield (February 19) and Rider (February 21) following on Niagara's slate before a second clash with Canisius on February 24. The Purple Eagles close the regular season at home on March 1 against Fairfield.

Manhattan Releases Full Schedule

Manhattan's MAAC championship defense will start against Florida State after Jaspers' schedule was released this morning. (Photo courtesy of NBC Sports)

The championship defense officially has a road to follow.

Five months after celebrating the program's first Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship since 2004, Manhattan now shifts its focus to the upcoming 2014-15 season, which begins on November 15 after the Jaspers' schedule was finally revealed.

"This year's schedule is the most challenging schedule we have had here," head coach Steve Masiello stated in a release issued this morning after it was announced that his team would begin its pursuit of a second straight conference crown on November 15 in Tallahassee against Florida State. "This schedule will prepare us for conference play and have our program ready to take the next step."

There is no breathing room after the opener at Florida State for the Jaspers, who then travel to Amherst on November 18 for an 11am soiree against Massachusetts as part of ESPN's 24-hour marathon. From there, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall Of Fame tipoff awaits, as Riverdale's finest will take on Binghamton on November 22 and either Navy or Northeastern the following day from the Mohegan Sun Arena.

A November 29 trip to George Mason precedes Manhattan's MAAC opener, which comes on December 5 in Bridgeport against a Fairfield team that defeated the eventual league champions at the WebsterBank Arena last January. Two days later, the Jaspers will finally return to Draddy Gym for their home opener, entertaining Marist and new head coach Mike Maker. Next up will be a December 14 affair against Rutgers in the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden, the first trip to the "World's Most Famous Arena" for Manhattan since 2008 and first Holiday Festival appearance since Bobby Gonzalez led the Jaspers to three straight championship game appearances in the annual December event during the mid-2000s.

Manhattan's next contest comes against Pittsburgh on December 17, with Morgan State coming to Riverdale three days later. On December 22, the annual "Battle of the Bronx" will be contested against Fordham, but this time at Brooklyn's Barclays Center, marking the first time since 2001 that the Jaspers and Rams will play one another outside of their native borough.

MAAC play resumes for the Jaspers on January 2, as the reigning champions will make the annual trip to western New York to face Niagara before meeting Canisius two days later. The Purple Eagles' return trip to Riverdale on January 10 is sandwiched by a pair of tilts against Saint Peter's, first at Draddy Gym on January 7 before a showdown at the Yanitelli Center on the 16th of the month.

A hosting of Rider on January 18 is next on the slate before Manhattan travels to Quinnipiac five days later. A two-game homestand ensues against Monmouth (January 25) and Siena (January 30) before King Rice and the Hawks get a second crack at the Jaspers on February 1. Canisius comes to Riverdale five days after that, with a February 8 journey to Rider preceding the first of two main events against fierce adversary Iona, who invades Draddy on Friday the 13th in what will almost certainly be yet another epic between the two schools separated by just nine miles and ten minutes by car.

A February 15 home matchup with Fairfield is a precursor to a three-game road trip that sees Manhattan visit Siena (February 21) and Marist (February 23) before locking horns with Iona a second time on February 27 inside the Hynes Center. The Jaspers conclude the regular season at home once again, welcoming Quinnipiac to the "6th Borough" on March 1.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Columbia Releases Full Schedule

Kyle Smith continues to build Columbia into Ivy League contender, as evidenced by schedule that sees Lions play five postseason teams from last season. (Photo courtesy of Columbia University)

Fresh off an appearance in the tournament that served as the first postseason berth in program history in 46 years, Columbia University returns to the hardwood intent on taking down Ivy League giant Harvard while at the same time focused on furthering their renaissance under head coach Kyle Smith.

"This schedule gives us some great opportunities early on, and I am very happy about the quality of our opponents as a whole," Smith said as his Lions will open the fifth year of his regime as the first visiting team to invade the newly renovated Stony Brook Arena when Columbia travels to Long Island to face Stony Brook on November 14 as part of an unconventional nonconference home-and-home series. Steve Pikiell and the Seawolves will ring in 2015 for the second leg, with the January opener for both sides taking place on the sixth day of the calendar year inside Levien Gym.

Columbia's home opener takes place on November 18, when the Lions entertain Wagner before a trip to Lehigh (November 23) precedes a four-game homestand featuring Fairleigh Dickinson, (November 25) reigning Patriot League champion American, (November 29) Loyola (December 2) and Bucknell on December 6. Games against both of the participants in last season's national championship game bookend Hofstra's December 20 visit to Manhattan, as Columbia travels to Kentucky on the 10th of December, with a matchup against national champion Connecticut slated for the 22nd, the Lions' final contest before the Christmas holiday.

A home game against Colgate (December 28) and road tilt at St. Francis Brooklyn (December 30) precede the aforementioned second game against Stony Brook. The Lions' last non-league tuneup will be a January 10 skirmish against NAIA program Central Penn before starting the "14-game tournament" in Ithaca on January 17 against archrival Cornell.

A return match with the Big Red one week later starts a five-game homestand before the traditional Friday/Saturday schedule kicks in for the Ivy League. Columbia's next four games come against Yale, (January 30) Brown, (January 31) Princeton (February 6) and Penn, (February 7) with four straight on the road to follow against Harvard, (February 13) Dartmouth, (February 14) Brown (February 20) and Yale on February 21. Dartmouth (February 27) and Harvard (February 28) serve as the Lions' final homestand prior to closing the season at Penn on March 6th and Princeton the following day.

***Click here for Columbia's schedule release, featuring quotes from head coach Kyle Smith.***

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Siena Releases Nonconference Schedule

Jimmy Patsos and reigning CBI champion Siena will defend their postseason crown by opening with nine-game nonconference schedule released today. (Photo courtesy of the Albany Times Union)

Four months removed from the first championship in program history, Jimmy Patsos and Siena released their 2014-15 nonconference schedule, a nine-game slate that will see the Saints battle quality opponents while defending their CBI title.

Following a November 8 exhibition against Division II Gannon University, Siena opens their campaign on November 14 at the Mullins Center in Amherst against Derek Kellogg and UMass, who will seek a second straight NCAA Tournament appearance despite losing lightning-quick point guard Chaz Williams to graduation. Three days later, the Saints take on Vermont for their home opener at the Times Union Center before competing again in another 48 hours when they defend the Franciscan Cup against St. Bonaventure to wrap up a stretch of three games in six days.

A ten-day hiatus ensues before Siena travels to Baltimore to take on Patsos' former Loyola program now coached by his former assistant, G.G. Smith, with a trip to Rose Hill Gym on deck two days after that to renew the Saints' rivalry with Tom Pecora and Fordham as the final tuneup before MAAC play opens the following weekend. After the first two league contests, three of Siena's final four nonconference affairs are at home, starting with a December 13 tilt with reigning America East champion Albany before a trip to Radford (December 19) precedes meetings with Cornell (December 23) and Bucknell (December 28) to take the Saints into 2015.

***Click here for Siena's nonconference schedule release, featuring quotes from head coach Jimmy Patsos. A Daly Dose Of Hoops hopes to have a full interview with Patsos in the days to come.***

Monday, August 18, 2014

Liberty 73, Fever 61: Ray Floriani's Photo Essay

NEW YORK CITY­ - Exiting the train at Penn Station, a gentleman inquired, “is this the train coming from Boston?” A walk through Penn Station gives off further evidence how this pace is unique. The idiosyncrasies, fashion statements and general ‘ambience’ of the Penn Station crowd could fill volumes. Beyond that, there is a game to consider.

The Indiana Fever are visiting the New York Liberty at Madison Square Garden. A week ago, both teams had playoff aspirations. The Fever defeated the Liberty here and went on a roll to cement their tenth consecutive playoff berth. The Liberty were mathematically eliminated on Friday.

Fever coach Lin Dunn will rest her starters. Keeping to his mantra, Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer knows there are no easy wins in the ‘W.’ Clearly, New York wants to end this season on a positive note.

The Fever opened the scoring on their initial possession. It would be their last lead of the evening. The Liberty led 8-­2 after three minutes and never lost their advantage, but did have some tenuous moments, as the Fever; with a playoff berth clinched and three key players not in action, were far from an ‘easy out.’ In the stretch New York went on a run to close out the 73-­61 victory.

The season ended at 15-­19 for the Liberty. The Fever enter the ‘second season’ with a 16-18 mark. It was a bittersweet feeling for the home team. Ending the season on a winning note is nice, but missing the playoffs leaves a feeling of emptiness. As Liberty guard Cappie Pondexter said in the locker room postgame, "I’m a competitor, I don’t like missing the playoffs two straight years.” Neither does Laimbeer, a fiery competitor in his own right.

Getting off the train at Secaucus Junction, five ‘twentysomethings’ asked for walking directions to MetLife Stadium for the Rihanna and Eminem concert. Yours truly explained you can’t walk on the highway and that it is best to take the train.

Sandwiched around a good game were two veritable transit sideshows.

Exiting Penn Station with the Madison Square Garden sign pointing the way:
New Jersey writer Jim Dombrowski and "the guru," Mel Greenberg, hold court with Fever coach Lin Dunn an hour prior to the game:
Maggie Lucas of the Fever, the game's leading scorer, (17 points) is all concentration on the free throw line:
The Liberty's Cappie Pondexter and an official discuss a ruling:
Indiana guard Layshia Clarendon sizes up the situation while taking a free throw break:
With the game over, the Liberty oblige autograph seekers:
The sunset as seen from the media room. It is also setting on the Liberty's 2014 season:

Friday, August 15, 2014

Previewing Fordham With Tom Pecora

Now entering fifth season at Fordham, Tom Pecora is in make-or-break year with Rams in a constantly improving Atlantic 10. (Photo courtesy of Ray Floriani)

Four years ago, Fordham hired Tom Pecora to attempt what many around college basketball perceived to be the impossible: Turn perennial Atlantic 10 doormat Fordham into a contender in a league that simultaneously improved along with its programs. With a 34-85 record through his first four seasons, Pecora has not exactly become Mike Krzyzewski at Rose Hill, but the Rams are a considerably better outfit than they were the day he arrived from Hofstra intent on erasing the negativity of a two-win season that saw Dereck Whittenburg give way midway through December to a then-29-year-old Jared Grasso, now the associate head coach to Tim Cluess at Iona.

Shortly after Fordham's nonconference schedule, a very favorable ledger conducive to turning the Rams into winners going into their Atlantic 10 slate, was released, I had the chance to catch up with Pecora in what has become an annual season preview of sorts, covering a multitude of topics ranging from how he will seek to replace Branden Frazier to the arrival of highly touted freshman Eric Paschall, and even the Rams' upcoming trip to Canada, with the transcript of our 18-minute conversation below:

Jaden Daly: Overall, the nonconference schedule is very favorable, a lot like last year. What was the goal and some of the other expectations when you finally put it all together?

Tom Pecora: Well, I mean as always, the nonconference schedule is one of the things you have to do when you turn this thing around, and what we need to do; obviously, is have a winning season. That hasn't been a common practice at Fordham, so the first thing you need to do is go into conference play in early January with a winning record. Having a winning record at home is very important because you have to hold serve at home, doing it in nonconference play is just as important as when you get into conference play because you want to have that winning record in January. So, getting more home games is key. If you recall, two years ago we played 20 of 31 on the road, and I thought that that was a disaster and it really set us back, so you know, this is important for us to be able to play this many home games, and it's important for our fan base too, you know?

JD: Has anyone realized just how tough of a situation this can be, and maybe the sense of urgency is greater and the hot seat might be getting warmer?

TP: I have. (laughs) There's no greater sense of urgency in year five than there was in year one, two or three in the sense of you know where you are, you know what you're trying to do. Once again, I think we've built this the right way, we have a solid foundation. The last thing in this process is winning basketball games. We've changed the culture, we've gotten the student body involved, we've made home games events, upgraded the process. The home game experience is better than it's ever been. Academically, the team has done very well, everyone's graduated, our overall team GPA is a 3.0, and that's all great, but we all know the bottom line is you've got to win some games, so now it's time to do that, and you know, hopefully as we move forward in the year, we stay healthy enough, and our veterans continue to get better, and that's the key. We're really looking now to our juniors and seniors that we recruited. You know, last year, Branden (Frazier) was our first recruiting class, but he was a lone senior. This year, we'll have Ryan Canty and Bryan Smith, and I think the freshmen coming in are impact guys, and I think that that's important. They're guys that are going to get a lot of minutes, and I think we have more talent now than we've ever had.

JD: Is there a real price tag you can put on Branden and how much you're going to miss him? Last year with Chris, (Gaston) it seemed like he could have been used and needed a lot more than we may have thought.

TP: Well, yeah. I think they're two very different players. I think Branden was a team-first guy, you know, his ability to distribute the ball and score the ball when we needed him to really made him a good player for us. The difference this year would be that Branden would be playing with more weapons around him, and that would have made his job a lot easier. He had a tough job with Jon (Severe) being a freshman next to him and, you know, not having frontcourt players that have developed to the level I think they have by now, so he had a tougher job. For his own sake, I wanted Branden to be part of this. He was one of the first guys to say "Coach, I'm coming," and I wanted him to be a part of the winning season, but he's doing really well. He's getting all set to go play in Europe, and he's excited about that.

JD: With him out of the picture, who do you look for to be team leaders? How much more will Jon be expected to carry the team?

TP: I think what's interesting, obviously, we need the veterans to step up a little bit. Jon needs to be able to have success through the entire season, because he won't feel the pressure he did last year to be one of our few scoring options. I think Antwoine Anderson, who redshirted last year, is an explosive backcourt player, good player with the ball in his hands. Nemanja Zarkovic, who's a freshman from Montreal, originally from Serbia, is a point guard who's tough and physical and frustrating to break down, so he'll be a good addition. I think the big surprise in the offseason is we all knew how good Eric Paschall was, and he's been great; he's a little banged up, but nothing major, and he's got an opportunity to be a real special player for us, but Christian Sengfelder, the big Euro, German frontcourt player, has been very, very good; and at 6-8, 240, he's going to be on the floor a lot for us, and we're going to need him to do a lot for us. Once again, you win games with talent, and they'll be well prepared for games. I just think we have more talent on the floor now, and that should be a big difference when you look at some of those games we got real close to winning last year, both in conference late in the year; games like La Salle and GW, and then a couple of the nonconference games where we were up late in the game and weren't able to hold leads. I think when you have talented players that play late in games, that's when you can put those games away and I'm hoping that's the case this year.

JD: With the extra personnel, how much more will depth be a concern with this team, and do you see yourself going to a 10, 11-man rotation early in the season?

TP: Definitely early in the year, we're going to play with a deeper rotation. You've got to stay healthy, that's the key, and depth comes into play when you don't. God forbid there's always going to be nicks and bumps and bruises, but that's how you can steal basketball games, because you have depth, you have players that are a little experienced and talented enough to step in and get the job done, and I think we're deeper than we've ever been.

JD: Tell us a little more about the freshmen. Is there a specific contribution you're expecting from each one?

TP: Anderson is a redshirt freshman, his greatest aspect of his game is his speed, his ability to blow the ball up the court, he's explosive attacking the basket, constantly puts pressure on defense and he's a great pressure defender, so that'll be good for him. Manny Suarez is a screen and pop guy, you know, a stretch four. At 6-9, he can create space offensively, knock down perimeter jumpers; and at the same time, help us in the paint when need be. Sengfelder, we spoke about, probably as hard-working a freshman as I've ever coached, a tremendous screener, substantial three-point shooter and a really tough competitor. Nemanja Zarkovic is like I said, fundamentally sound, a 20-year-old freshman who's been through the wars of European games and in Canada, playing at a very high level up there. I expect a lot out of him from being a very mature freshman. Dekeba Battee from Australia, very physical, we're working on getting him back in shape after his year off, a very bright kid. All of the freshmen are bright kids on and off the court, so they're picking things up quickly. Dekeba could be a really good fill-in guy for us on the baseline, and then Paschall, you know, the sky's the limit. Paschall is only 17, he won't be 18 until November, and as a 17-year-old true high school senior, a 12th-grader, he was prep school player of the year in a league that's been dominated by post-grad guys, so he's got a chance to be really, really good.

JD: With extra size this year, how much more will you rely on the three and four-guard sets you were forced to play mostly out of necessity last year?

TP: Yeah, we'll do that much less. I mean, you know, I would see. In a perfect world, we'd be playing Eric Paschall at the three and then when we want to play small, we'll move him to the four; and once again, at 6-6, 230, you're not really playing small when he's at the four, but he's so skilled. That's our small group. It's no longer Bryan Smith (at) 6-3 having to go in and battle with the horses down there.

JD: On the trip to Canada, what are your basic expectations with this team before practice starts, and how much of a shot in the arm is it going to be for this group?

TP: I think it's good. Any time, once again, it's about team bonding, us having the ability to be together and practice, that'll be great, especially for the freshmen because we'll be able to put in so many of the things we're usually putting in the first week of practice in late September, early October, so that will allow that. That should have a ripple effect and allow them to be better in the month of September, so I think it speeds up the process, and with a young team, that's important. We talked about team chemistry, we want these guys to spend time together, and it's going to be fun. It's going to be a good trip, we're going to play four games in six days, but we're going to do a lot of fun things together.

JD: Do you think there's going to be more patience involved with this group with some of the more experienced guys having transferred out?

TP: Well, not really. I don't know, I think I was pretty experienced with those guys too. One of the reasons, and we had great conversations with everyone who decided to move on, there was a common thread. Every one of them said "the hard thing is I know what a great education and what a great degree I'm going to get from Fordham, and that's what makes it hard to leave, I know I'm not going to play a lot." They knew who was coming in, they knew the freshmen that were coming in and the guys who were redshirts, they knew the talent level was getting higher, but early in the year, I think it's really going to be about competing. I think when you have a team that's not incredibly experienced, you lighten things up a little bit and you spoonfeed them, and you try be good at a few things instead of a lot of things.

JD: You're back at the Garden for St. John's for the Holiday Festival and the Battle of the Bronx this time at the Barclays Center, and honestly, I've had a lot of people ask me "why would he play the game there?"

TP: You know, one of the things that's important with regard to Barclays, when they call and ask you to play, it's tough for us in our situation to say "no, thank you." Playing Manhattan on our home court would be an advantage. We were able to beat them at their place last year, but playing them at home would be huge. As we build a brand and build a product, we want to get more exposure, and Barclays gives you that, a doubleheader along with Miami and Providence. I think that it gives our alumni an opportunity to prove how committed they are by coming out the Monday before Christmas to support it and get big numbers at Barclays. I also want to play a game each year in Barclays prior to our conference tournament there. You know, we're the New York team in the A-10 tournament in Barclays; and we were able to win a game in there last year, the first time in eight years that we won a game in the A-10 tournament, but I'd like to feel comfortable there and have the guys say "well, we've played here before and had success." Hopefully that will be the case. I want it to be a homecourt advantage for us, not the same as other teams in the A-10 that are playing in that building for the first time. The people at Barclays have been tremendous, they've been great, and it's a state-of-the-art building, and I'd like to play at least one game in that building. I think moving forward, we'll definitely be able to play the ACC/A-10 Challenge, and hopefully we get to play (in) that in 2015.

JD: Four years later, how much more of an uphill climb is it than some may realize in this conference?

TP: Well, look, Fordham is playing in the best conference it's ever played in. You know, last year, we played in a conference that got six teams in the NCAA Tournament, so I think that had the A-10 dipped in our first four years, we would have had greater success, but we got better each year in a lot of ways. The problem was, so did the A-10. The runway is a little bit longer than people would like it to be before we take off, but with that said, I still have great confidence that we can do that, but once again, how do you do it? Well, you get good players and you coach them up, get them to guard and rebound, and give them the freedom offensively to make plays. That's the formula we've always had success with.

JD: Finally, what would be your message to the Fordham fans that might be a little skeptical, and those that are being introduced to the program for the first time? What can we expect from Fordham this season?

TP: Well, look, those that are skeptical, I say keep the faith. You know, obviously, Fordham has had one winning season in 20 years, and I was brought in to change that, and I think we're on the precipice of doing that. So don't jump ship now, and while you're staying on board, pull a few other people on board with you. It's important when we have an opportunity to play at the Garden or we have an opportunity to play at Barclays that we have more fans there than our opponent. We're the New York team, so I think that's important. People that are just getting involved, I would say come experience what a home game is like at Rose Hill. Stop by a practice and meet myself, my staff and my team, and if you spend time with our team and you get comfortable with the guys in our program, you'll realize that Fordham's a special place; and if you're an alumnus, especially. You should be very proud of the university. You want to be on board when this thing does take off. You don't want to be somebody who's a "Johnny come lately." If you're somebody that's been hanging around for 20 years, you've been frustrated by it, I say keep the faith.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Marist Releases Nonconference Schedule

Senior swingman Chavaughn Lewis helps Marist usher in Mike Maker era with 10-game nonconference schedule. (Photo courtesy of Big Apple Buckets)

Fresh off hiring their fourth coach in the last decade, Marist is making news for a different reason today, as new head man Mike Maker released the Red Foxes' nonconference schedule, a ten-game slate that includes a trip to Florida for the Gulf Coast Showcase.

"It's certainly challenging," Maker said of his team's ledger, "but our focus is going to be on Marist and how we can make our program the best that it can be. We're not going to shy away from that."

The Red Foxes will open their season on November 14 at the Sojka Pavilion in Lewisburg, where they will return a matchup with Bucknell that saw Dave Paulsen and the 2013 Patriot League champion Bison come to McCann Arena last year. Following an eight-day hiatus, Marist will entertain another Patriot League member when Army visits McCann Arena in one of two home games leading into Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play.

From there, Marist will compete in the Gulf Coast Showcase, playing three games from November 24-26 against the likes of such schools as Florida Gulf Coast, San Francisco, and CBI runner-up Fresno State. December sees the Red Foxes open the last month of the year with a road game at Boston College (December 1) prior to their two opening contests in the MAAC, which precede a December 8 trip to the Palestra to return last year's home game against Penn, as well as a December 13 trip to VMI.

A matchup with Colonial Athletic Association newcomer Elon is also present, with a date to be announced, but Marist's biggest non-league tilt is a December 20 affair with reigning Atlantic 10 champion Saint Joseph's, who returns the favor from a contest at Hagan Arena last November. It will be the first time in which Phil Martelli's Hawks have come to Poughkeepsie, and ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi will be in attendance as well, sharing the Saint Joseph's radio call with Matt Martucci.

***Click here for Marist's nonconference schedule release***

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Jermaine Lawrence Eligible For Manhattan

Manhattan got huge boost in MAAC title defense this season upon hearing that Cincinnati transfer Jermaine Lawrence received hardship waiver, thus making him eligible to join Jaspers in 2014-15. (Photo courtesy of the New York Post)

When assessing his team's chances of defending their first Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship ten years ago, Steve Masiello was candid in admitting that he and the rest of the Manhattan Jaspers would miss Rhamel Brown. However, the coach added that if Jermaine Lawrence; who transferred from Cincinnati to be closer to his ailing father, were to receive the hardship waiver that the school applied for on his behalf, the Jaspers "would be okay."

All is apparently well once again in Riverdale, not that there was ever any doubt from the eternal optimist Masiello, as the coach himself proclaimed news of Lawrence's eligibility via his Twitter account earlier this afternoon.

Lawrence, a 6-9 forward who played 26 games for Mick Cronin and the Bearcats last season after being recruited out of Pope John XXIII in New Jersey and Cardozo High School in Bayside before committing to Manhattan in May, will join his new team immediately, and will have three years of eligibility beginning in the 2014-15 season.

"I think because of his size, athleticism and versatility, he fits our style of play perfectly," Masiello told A Daly Dose Of Hoops. "He reminds me a lot of Earl Clark, who I coached at Louisville. He can play multiple positions as well as defend multiple positions, and I think he can affect the game from a defensive standpoint and rebounding standpoint. He gives us a very long perimeter defender that can alter shots. What I'm excited about more than anything is his humility and his tremendous work ethic."

Lawrence will go a long way toward replacing Rhamel Brown, who departed the Manhattan program three months ago as one of the greatest forwards in school history. The Springfield Gardens native will join senior Emmy Andujar and junior Ashton Pankey on a physically imposing front line that may be short on experience compared to some others in the MAAC, but long on causing frustration for opposing teams.

"I think he's a guy who is similar to how we used Emmy," Masiello said when asked how Lawrence would fit the Jasper system, which focuses on an unrelenting full-court press and suffocating opposing ball movement. "He's a guy who you're going to see take bigger defenders off the bounce, post up smaller defenders, he's going to be used a lot in one-on-one iso situations. We'll run a lot of stuff through him, but I think the biggest thing for Jermaine is he's coming onto a very good front line, so he can have great success, but not have to be relied upon, which I think is a nice luxury for him."

Monday, August 11, 2014

Fordham Releases Nonconference Schedule

Jon Severe leads Fordham into fifth season of Tom Pecora era with an eclectic nonconference schedule. (Photo courtesy of Donnie Dwyer via The Sports Cycle)

When we caught up with him before Fordham started a 2013-14 season that ultimately became a disappointment, head coach Tom Pecora was optimistic in declaring his Rams were moving in the right direction.

One year and the departure of warrior point guard Branden Frazier later, Pecora has yet to comment to us about this season's incarnation of the maroon and white, but one thing the coach did do was release his newest nonconference schedule, which once again features several early win opportunities for the Rams as they attempt to turn the corner once and for all in the steadfastly improving Atlantic 10 Conference.

Fordham begins its 112th season on November 14 by welcoming Division II opponent NYIT, from the East Coast Conference, into the Rose Hill Gym. From there, a pair of road games against Big Ten opponents await the Rams; first against Penn State two days after the opener, with the second coming in College Park on November 20 against Mark Turgeon and Maryland, who make the jump to their new league from the Atlantic Coast Conference.

A four-game homestand brings the Bronx's college team into and out of the Thanksgiving holiday, beginning with UMass-Lowell (November 23) before welcoming Maryland-Eastern Shore six days later. December sees the Rams renew their four-year series with two Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference programs, first against Jimmy Patsos and reigning CBI champions Siena on the first of the month before opening the doors to Rose Hill for a December 10 collision with King Rice and upstart Monmouth.

Two intra-city skirmishes are next up on Fordham's ledger, as the Holiday Festival will feature the Rams in what has become an annual meeting with St. John's University. This season's installment of the rivalry takes place on December 14 at Madison Square Garden, and will be the sixth consecutive season in which the two schools have played one another, the fourth straight inside the "World's Most Famous Arena." From there, the 107th Battle of the Bronx will be the focus, as Steve Masiello and MAAC champion Manhattan seek to avenge a bitter loss to the Rams, this time doing so inside Brooklyn's Barclays Center on December 22 as part of the Brooklyn Winter Hoops Invitational. This game will be just the second between the Rams and Jaspers to be held outside Rose Hill or Draddy Gym since 2001; and 25th overall, with the most recent being a 2001 showdown at Madison Square Garden that pitted Bob Hill on the sidelines against Bobby Gonzalez.

Fordham concludes its non-league portion of the schedule with two more home games, first against Howard for the second straight season on December 28 before a New Year's Eve soiree with South Carolina State.

2014-15 Fordham University Nonconference Schedule (all times TBA)
Friday, November 14: vs. NYIT
Sunday, November 16: at Penn State
Thursday, November 20: at Maryland
Sunday, November 23: vs. UMass-Lowell
Saturday, November 29: vs. Maryland-Eastern Shore
Monday, December 1: vs. Siena
Wednesday, December 10: vs. Monmouth
Sunday, December 14: vs. St. John's at Madison Square Garden (Holiday Festival)
Monday, December 22: vs. Manhattan at Barclays Center (Battle of the Bronx)
Sunday, December 28: vs. Howard
Wednesday, December 31: vs. South Carolina State

Fever 90, Liberty 76: Ray Floriani's Photo Essay

NEW YORK CITY -­ There are times you put aside the Xs and Os. The offenses, defenses, sets, transition attacks, all are virtually meaningless in the assessment. What it all boils down to, is if you do not have the inner fortitude and sense of purpose, there is not a trick play available to compensate.

On Sunday, the Indiana Fever visited the "World’s Most Famous Arena," exiting with a much-needed 90-­76 decision over the host New York Liberty. In danger of not qualifying for a playoff berth for the first time in a decade, the Fever snapped a three-game losing streak. The Liberty were coming off a home win against Connecticut two nights earlier, with hopes of securing a crucial Eastern Division victory. It was not to be.

At the first quarter buzzer, Indiana led 24-­12. Already the telltale signs were there. The Liberty reverted to the old habit of turning the ball over. Defensively, they failed to get out on a number of closeouts, and paid the price as the Fever perimeter shooters took advantage. Indiana shot 54% from three (7 of 13) on the afternoon.

Individually, former Tennessee star Tamika Catchings put on a show. The 6­-1 forward scored a game high 29 points, burying four of five attempts from long distance, but this was not about one opposing player having an outstanding performance.

On the Liberty side, head coach Bill Laimbeer stressed it was not about one of his players either. Rather, each individual must collectively dig down, make the daily commitment and be prepared to compete for the duration of practices and games.

It is a process that normally doesn’t happen overnight. The problem for the Liberty, though, is the season clock is ticking.

No "supermoon," but the Garden lights are dimmed for Liberty introductions:
A New York dance academy anxiously awaits taking the floor for a halftime performance:
Jump ball situations can try officials. Here, Erlana Larkins of Indiana (No. 2) seemingly shares their pain:
Tamika Catchings of the Fever with a picturesque free throw follow through:
Daly Dose colleague Jason Schott would have been disappointed, as there were no Carnegie Deli delights today:
Yours truly heading to press row for the second half with some special company, the Indiana players:

Friday, August 8, 2014

Quinnipiac Releases Nonconference Schedule

With Ike Azotam gone and Ousmane Drame's health a concern, Zaid Hearst becomes an even larger figure for Quinnipiac as Bobcats enter second season in MAAC. (Photo courtesy of the Quinnipiac Bobcats Sports Network)

One could not have asked for a better debut for Quinnipiac in the Metro Atlantic Athletic conference, all things considered. Joining the MAAC after claiming the Northeast Conference as its residence through all of its Division I tenure until July 2013, the Bobcats finished third in their new league, winning three of four games against regular season champion Iona and postseason champion Manhattan before falling to the Jaspers in the semifinals of the MAAC tournament and reaching the tournament.

Looking for an encore after losing rugged senior forward Ike Azotam to graduation, head coach Tom Moore; whose game management improved "exponentially" according to Q30 Sports anchor Jon Alba when he sat down with us to discuss the season on the whole, today released Quinnipiac's nonconference schedule, a slate of nine games featuring all but two at the aesthetically pleasing TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden.

"The Bank" is this year's site of the annual Connecticut 6 tripleheader, in which the Bobcats will once again commence their season when they tip off against Yale on November 14 in a rematch of Quinnipiac's season-ending loss to their neighbors in New Haven. Four days later, Atlantic 10 foe La Salle comes to Hamden to return the favor from a game contested last season in Philadelphia during ESPN's 24-hour Tip-Off Marathon. The season-opening homestand is interrupted on November 22 with a journey to Albany to take on Will Brown and the reigning America East champion Great Danes, but the Bobcats will not be away from home long, returning to the Nutmeg State for contests with in-state rival Hartford (November 25) and Vermont (November 30) that will take Moore's team into the start of MAAC play during the opening weekend in December.

Following two conference tilts, Quinnipiac again hits the road on December 14 to meet Boston University prior to each of their final three non-league skirmishes taking place on their home court. Lehigh (December 18) starts the trio of affairs, with Oregon State (December 21) and Maine (December 29) rounding out the first portion of the Bobcats' ledger.

***Click here for Quinnipiac's nonconference schedule release, featuring quotes from head coach Tom Moore, and click here to view Q30 Sports' archives.***

Monday, August 4, 2014

Gaels, Jaspers In ESPN 24-Hour Marathon

Already possessing four postseason appearances, Tim Cluess and Iona get greater exposure this season by competing in ESPN's 24-hour marathon to open season, an event which will also feature Manhattan. (Photo courtesy of the New York Daily News)

Iona and Manhattan have come to define not just the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, but also mid-major college basketball in the New York metropolitan area. Therefore, the inclusion of both schools in ESPN's annual 24-hour marathon should come as no surprise to either program, or its rabid fan bases for that matter.

The 2014 College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon will begin at 7 p.m. on Monday, November 17, but the Gaels will be featured twelve hours later, traveling to Wofford to return a game against the reigning Southern Conference champion Terriers on Tuesday morning, November 18 in a 7 a.m. contest. Iona handily defeated Wofford at the Hynes Center last season in their home opener, but Tim Cluess' squad will no longer feature Sean Armand after the sharpshooter graduated last year, leaving David Laury, A.J. English and Isaiah Williams to pick up where the New Rochelle dynasty has left off.

Not to be outdone, the team that defeated Iona for the MAAC championship will be in action on the morning of the 18th as well, as Manhattan has landed an intriguing matchup against Derek Kellogg and Massachusetts. The battle of two NCAA Tournament teams will see the Minutemen welcome Steve Masiello and the Jaspers to the Mullins Center in Amherst for an 11 a.m. soiree, with both schools having to replace their point guards; as not only will Manhattan need to find a successor to Michael Alvarado, but UMass must now also adjust to life without the lightning-quick Chaz Williams.

A complete schedule of the 2014 ESPN College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon can be found by clicking here:

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

Junior point guard Aliyyah Handford leads St. John's into a year where Red Storm seek sixth straight NCAA Tournament appearance. (Photo courtesy of the Associated Press)

Kim Barnes Arico may have departed for a better opportunity and well-deserved pay raise at Michigan, but the quality with which she left at St. John's after a decade that saw her become the winningest coach in program history remains stronger than it has ever been.

Longtime Barnes Arico lieutenant Joe Tartamella, now in his third season at the helm on the corner of Union and Utopia, may not yet have the signature wins his predecessor racked up with the Red Storm, but a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances on his own pass as more than sufficient evidence of the much-speculated dropoff in Queens having not arrived.

Today, Tartamella released his latest nonconference schedule, a ledger that commences on the road with a New England opponent for the second straight season when the Red Storm face Yale in New Haven on November 15 one year removed from opening the 2013-14 campaign at the Pitt Center against Sacred Heart. Five days later, the intensity ratchets up to a higher level as Florida comes to Carnesecca Arena for the Lady Johnnies' home opener, and for local college basketball enthusiasts, the next game on the slate is a long-anticipated matchup.

St. John's makes the journey up the New York State Thruway on November 24 for a clash at McCann Arena with MAAC superpower Marist, the first meeting between the Red Storm and Red Foxes since 2002, when Barnes Arico scored her first career win against a debuting Brian Giorgis, who has since racked up ten MAAC championships and a Sweet 16 appearance during his twelve years in Poughkeepsie.

Two home games against Binghamton (November 28) and Wagner (November 30) start a stretch of six of seven contests at Carnesecca for the Red Storm, with a December 7 visit to former Big East rival South Florida sandwiching two more home games against Central Florida (December 11) and NJIT, (December 14) the final tuneups before the annual Chartwells Holiday Classic, St. John's holiday tournament that enters its seventh year of operation on December 20 and 21.

Following a two-week hiatus for the holidays, St. John's final nonconference battle may very well be its biggest to date, as the Red Storm ring in 2015 at Madison Square Garden, taking on bitter rival Geno Auriemma and Connecticut in the Maggie Dixon Classic on January 4.

***Click here for St. John's University's nonconference schedule release, featuring quotes from head coach Joe Tartamella.***