Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Sterling Gibbs to transfer from Seton Hall, eligible immediately

Sterling Gibbs, Seton Hall's leading scorer this past season, announces his intent to transfer and use final year of eligibility next season. (Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated)

Just when Seton Hall thought their nightmare of a season was finally over, bad news has once again reared its ugly head in South Orange.

Sterling Gibbs, the Pirates' leading scorer and floor general from the point guard position, today revealed his decision to transfer from Seton Hall, as initially reported by Alex Kline of Rivals.com and The Recruit Scoop. Gibbs will be a fifth-year senior next season, and thus will be immediately eligible for whomever he commits to.

"We appreciate everything Sterling has done for our program over the last three years," head coach Kevin Willard stated in a university-issued release, "and wish him all the best as he pursues a Masters degree at another university."

A second team all-Big East and MBWA honoree, Gibbs averaged 16.3 points and 3.8 assists per game to go with 44 percent shooting from three-point range, each statistic good enough for the team lead. But a combination of a young team struggling with newfound adversity, coupled with ongoing friction caused by a divide among the upperclassmen and freshmen on the roster saw Seton Hall limp down the stretch to finish 16-15 after starting the season 12-2, soaring as high as the No. 19 ranking in the Associated Press poll. During that span, highly touted rookie Isaiah Whitehead missed several weeks with a foot injury, and sophomore shooting guard Jaren Sina ultimately left the team in mid-February, citing "untenable" locker room conditions. Sina has since transferred to George Washington.

Gibbs was expected to once again be the face of the program, along with Whitehead and Big East Rookie of the Year Angel Delgado, as the Pirates entered Willard's sixth season eager to live up to the hype laid before them. However, all that stands ahead of Seton Hall now is disarray, an all too familiar feeling around the program that reached its high point on February 16, when Gibbs' forearm strike to the face of Villanova's Ryan Arcidiacono earned him a two-game suspension and raised further questions about supposed team chemistry issues.

"We didn't want to do this, but it was a tough situation," Gibbs' father, Temple, said shortly after news of his son's decision became public. "It was something he felt he had to do for his state of mind."

Monday, April 27, 2015

Ray Floriani's Tempo-Free NEC Wrapup

Jalen Cannon (left) and Brent Jones (right) led St. Francis Brooklyn to regular season NEC championship, and spearheaded Terriers' offensive attack, the league's most efficient. (Photo courtesy of Big Apple Buckets)

It came down to the wire in the Northeast Conference. Not surprisingly, the numbers in many cases mirror how close this league was.

The EM (efficiency margin), as noted in past posts, is offensive efficiency subtracted by the defense. The ‘photo finish’ of the two top teams was consistent in how the conference played out. (Numbers courtesy of bbstate.com)

1) St. Francis Brooklyn (EM 12, 15-3 record, TS 49.9)
2) Robert Morris (EM 11, 12-6, TS 57.9)
3) Mount St. Mary's (EM 7, 11-7, TS 52.7)
4) Bryant (EM 2, 12-6, TS 52.4)
5) Saint Francis University (EM 1, 9-9, TS 53.8)
6) Sacred Heart (EM 0, 9-9, TS 50.5)
7) LIU Brooklyn (EM -6, 8-10, TS 50.6)
8) Wagner (EM -7, 8-10, TS 47.3)
9) Fairleigh Dickinson (EM -9, 3-15, TS 40.8)
10) Central Connecticut (EM -17, 3-15, TS 43.1)

A new metric: Not really that new. True shooting percentage (TS) has been around a few years. While effective field goal percentage gives a little ‘extra credit’ for a three-pointer finding the bottom of the net, TS takes a comprehensive look at the shooting performance. The following formula sums it up best:

TS = Points/(2 * (FGA + .475 * FTA))

True shooting looks at the player performance, shooting-wise, relative to used possessions. You may ram home over 60% of your shots in Wilt Chamberlain fashion from in close, but if you shoot free throws as the storied ‘Big Dipper’ did, TS will suffer.

TS is not to belittle the FG, one of the Four Factors, but having the free throws accounted for, gives us a comprehensive look at a said shooting performance. TS can be used for teams (we included the NEC performances) as well as individuals. It seems eFG gets used more with teams and TS individuals. Both metrics have their merits for the two groups, teams and individuals. TS, somewhat of a below the radar stat to many, has appreciable value in its own right.

The top (meaning lowest) TO rate on offense was 16.9, posted by Bryant. Just behind was FDU at 17.1. The problem with Greg Herenda’s Knights was an eFG mark of 47.8% and a 40.8 TS percentage.

Top Defenses:
1) Mount St. Mary's (93 defensive efficiency)
2) St. Francis Brooklyn (94)
3) Robert Morris (96)

Not among the best defenses in this metric, FDU had the distinction of forcing opposing offenses into the highest TO rate at 21.6%. Closely behind were Robert Morris (21.2) and Mount St. Mary’s (21.0). St. Francis Brooklyn had the stingiest eFG defense at 45.5%. Closely behind was Mount St. Mary’s at 46%.

Leading Offenses:
1) Robert Morris (107 offensive efficiency)
T-2) St. Francis Brooklyn (106)
T-2) Bryant (106)
4) Sacred Heart (103)

Bryant’s conference leading 54.1% eFG percentage was a major factor.

Fastest Pace:
1) Sacred Heart (70.7 possessions)
2) LIU Brooklyn (70.2)
3) Wagner (69.8)

Anthony Latina made no bones about it. He wanted his Sacred Heart team to get out and run, force the pace and dictate tempo, and the Pioneers did it as the NEC’s fastest-paced club.

Most Deliberate Pace:
1) Bryant (64.1 possessions)
T-2) Central Connecticut (64.6)
T-2) St. Francis Brooklyn (64.6)

About one mile separates the campuses of St. Francis Brooklyn and LIU. That short distance, a subway stop or two, saw two vastly different approaches to tempo: The push it up, ‘NASCAR’ pace of the Blackbirds, as opposed to the more methodical approach of the Terriers.

Northeast Conference Championship: Robert Morris 66, St. Francis Brooklyn 63
A contest eminently worthy of being labeled the championship game. A 64-possession affair right at the target tempo of both teams (Robert Morris averaged 66 possessions per NEC game). The Colonials had a 100-98 edge in offensive efficiency. A major factor was Andy Toole’s club forcing St. Francis into a 24.8 TO rate while holding them to 45% eFG percentage. How did the Terriers stay competitive? Second chances. Glenn Braica’s group enjoyed a 22-6 lead in offensive rebounds, translating into a 50-20% domination of offensive rebounding percentage, a factor that allowed them to take this game to the final possession, despite some struggling on the offensive end.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Eric Paschall to transfer to Villanova

Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year Eric Paschall has committed to Villanova after opening his recruitment. (Photo courtesy of the New York Post)

Fordham's leading scorer has apparently made his decision in regard to his future.

Eric Paschall, the Rams' freshman sensation, has committed to transfer to Villanova, as per CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein. A formal announcement is expected tomorrow.

Paschall, a 6-6 swingman, averaged 15.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game as Fordham finished 10-21 for the second straight year. He was voted Rookie of the Year in the Atlantic 10 Conference by virtue of his impressive statistics, and shared MBWA Rookie of the Year honors with Angel Delgado of Seton Hall, whom he will now play against should the Pirates' rebounding machine remain in South Orange.

Paschall will have three years of eligibility remaining, beginning in the 2016-17 season upon completion of his NCAA-mandated year in residence.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Jaren Sina commits to George Washington

Jaren Sina, who spent first two years of his career at Seton Hall, will be transferring to George Washington. (Photo courtesy of Ray Floriani)

Seton Hall's most recognized expatriate of this past season has found a new home.

Jaren Sina, the sophomore shooting guard who parted ways with the Pirates in February after helping lead his teammates to a No. 19 ranking in the nation, committed to George Washington earlier this evening.

Sina, who will have two remaining years of eligibility beginning with the 2016-17 season, joins the Colonials on the heels of a 22-13 season and second round appearance in the National Invitation Tournament, and chose George Washington after strongly considering Michigan, enabling himself to step into a backcourt that has already lost point guard Kethan Savage, who recently transferred to Butler. His arrival will not be the first in which George Washington head coach Mike Lonergan has taken on a high-major transfer, as he rode the success of Maurice Creek (Indiana) and Isaiah Armwood (Villanova) to the NCAA Tournament in 2014.

"I'm happy I can go to a place where the culture fits me as both a basketball player and a student-athlete," Sina told Jerry Carino, who covers Seton Hall for the Asbury Park Press and Gannett New Jersey's Hoops Haven site. "I have a good opportunity to contribute from the point guard position, so that's obviously a factor. When you combine that with the school itself, it's a home run for me."

Sina averaged seven points per game in 23 contests for Seton Hall last year, registering 2.4 assists per game in the process. In addition, he was one of the more articulate and insightful players in the Pirates' locker room.

George Washington also secured a more immediate assist to their roster today, as Dartmouth guard Alex Mitola; ironically a former high school teammate of Sina's at Gill St. Bernard in New Jersey, announced he would use his fifth and final year of eligibility with the Colonials. The graduate transfer is eligible immediately.

Jeff Neubauer announces first hires on his staff at Fordham

Jeff Neubauer officially announced hiring of two assistants, with three more on the verge of being introduced soon, according to sources. (Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated)

Three weeks after replacing Tom Pecora, Jeff Neubauer now has a staff to work with at Fordham.

The Rams' new leader confirmed the hiring of Rodney Crawford, who attended the March 31 press conference announcing Neubauer as head coach, as an assistant coach, with another member of his former staff at Eastern Kentucky, Willie Cruz, coming on board as assistant director of basketball operations and strength training coach.

"I'm pleased that Rodney is joining me at Fordham," Neubauer said of Crawford, who once played for Bob Huggins at Cincinnati. "He did a great job coaching the defense at Eastern Kentucky, and I'm sure that will translate that toughness here at Fordham." Of Cruz, Neubauer praised his background in strength and conditioning, stating he was "confident that he will have similar results with the Fordham program."

Although the remainder of Neubauer's staff has yet to be announced, Ryan Restivo of Big Apple Buckets reports that the outstanding vacancies will most likely be filled by Mike DePaoli; who served on Pecora's staff previously, former St. John's assistant Tony Chiles, and Jaden Uken, who spent four years as an assistant at Bradley.

Pointer wins Haggerty Award as MBWA honors locals

Sir'Dominic Pointer bids farewell to St. John's with Haggerty Award in tow, putting exclamation point on a senior season for the ages. (Photo courtesy of Newsday)

His former coach once described him as a "WD-40" player, one whose skill set encompassed a little bit of everything. Today, the most versatile recruit Steve Lavin brought to St. John's can now be described as the best player in the metropolitan area.

Sir'Dominic Pointer, the Red Storm's swingman whose tendency to explode for a near-triple-double on any given night helped return St. John's to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011, was named the Haggerty Award winner this morning, the 22nd player in program history to receive the honor, and second in a row after D'Angelo Harrison captured it a year ago.

"I am humbled and honored to receive the Haggerty Award," Pointer said in a statement issued by St. John's, who placed two of his teammates among the All-Met teams as well, with D'Angelo Harrison landing a spot on the first team while Phil Greene secured third team honors. "This is a special award with great tradition and history that has a strong connection to St. John's. Some of the great players who came through our program have won the Haggerty Award, so it is very special to now be among such a prestigious group."

The Big East picked up a share of another award, as Seton Hall's Angel Delgado split Rookie of the Year honors with Eric Paschall of Fordham. Both Delgado and Paschall received similar distinctions in the Big East and Atlantic 10, respectively. The Coach of the Year award was jointly distributed as well, between St. Francis Brooklyn head coach Glenn Braica and Jim Engles of NJIT, whose dream season reached the semifinals of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.

In addition to Pointer and Harrison, Iona placed a pair on the first team, as MAAC Player of the Year David Laury and A.J. English were named to the list. St. Francis Brooklyn's Jalen Cannon and Stony Brook forward Jameel Warney completed the field. Manhattan's Emmy Andujar, a first team selection in the MAAC, was left off the first team, settling instead for a second team recognition. His Jasper teammate, Ashton Pankey, the Most Valuable Player in the MAAC Tournament, was voted to the third team. Chavaughn Lewis of Marist was the fifth and final MAAC honoree, as his place on the third team is the first MBWA honor the Red Foxes have received since 2009.

Below is a complete listing of the awards, as voted upon by the Metropolitan Basketball Writers' Association:


Sir’Dominic Pointer, St. John’s6-6, sr, G/FDetroit, MI

D’Angelo Harrison, St. John’s6-4, sr, GMissouri City, TX

David Laury, Iona6-9, sr, FE. Orange, NJ

A.J. English, Iona6-4, jr, GWilmington, DE

Jalen Cannon, St. Francis6-6, sr, FAllentown, PA

Jameel Warney, Stony Brook6-8, jr, FPlainfield, NJ



Emmy Andujar, Manhattan6-6, sr, FBronx, NY

Sterling Gibbs, Seton Hall6-2, jr, GScotch Plains, NJ

Juan’ya Green, Hofstra6-2, jr, GPhiladelphia, PA

Maodo Lo, Columbia6-3, jr, GBerlin, Germany

Myles Mack, Rutgers5-10, sr, GPaterson, NJ

Damon Lynn, NJIT5-11, so, GHillside, NJ



Chavaughn Lewis, Marist6-5, sr, G/FQueens, NY

Ashton Pankey, Manhattan6-10, jr, FBronx, NY

Brent Jones, St. Francis5-10, sr, GBrooklyn, NY

Marcus Burton, Wagner6-0, sr, GCharlotte, NC

Phil Greene IV, St. John’s6-2, sr, GChicago, IL

Kadeem Jack, Rutgers6-9, sr, FQueens, NY


Player of the Year: Sir’Dominic Pointer, St. John’s

Co-Rookie of the Year: Eric Paschall, Fordham

Co-Rookie of the Year: Angel Delgado, Seton Hall

Peter A. Carlesimo Co-Coach of the Year: Glenn Braica, St. Francis

Peter A. Carlesimo Co-Coach of the Year: Jim Engles, NJIT


Monday, April 20, 2015

Bozzella, Simmons honored as MBWA Coach and Player of the Year

Tony Bozzella caps off a dream season at Seton Hall with MBWA Coach of the Year award. (Photo courtesy of Ray Floriani)

They won 28 games, a conference championship, and represented themselves in a world-class fashion at the NCAA Tournament. Now, it seems only fitting that some of Seton Hall's best have the finest honors in local college basketball bestowed upon them.

In a result that comes as no surprise to those who either know him well or have seen his team in action, Seton Hall head coach Tony Bozzella was rightfully rewarded today as the MBWA Maggie Dixon Division I Women's Coach of the Year, as voted upon by the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association. In just two years at the helm of his alma mater, Bozzella has guided the Pirates to success that had long been forgotten in South Orange, amassing a 48-20 record that has seen Seton Hall reach the postseason in both seasons, most notably last month's NCAA Tournament appearance against Rutgers that concluded a 28-6 campaign that earned the Hall a ranking as high as No. 23 in the nation over the course of a year where the 28 wins were the most in school history since recording 27 victories in 1994. His award is Seton Hall's first such honor since Phyllis Mangina received the same distinction in 1994 and 1995.
Ka-Deidre Simmons missed out on Big East Player of the Year honors, but made up for it with MBWA Player of the Year award. (Photo courtesy of Ray Floriani)

In addition to Bozzella, his point guard, Ka-Deidre Simmons, added another trophy to her case with her selection as the MBWA Division I Women's Player of the Year. Narrowly defeated by DePaul's Brittany Hrynko for the same honor in the Big East Conference, Simmons was the clear-cut choice for the MBWA award. The graduate student from Newark averaged 17.0 points, 5.7 assists and 2.2 steals per game running Bozzella's offense this past year, and was the unquestioned floor general for the Pirates throughout the season, leading with and without the ball in her hands. She is the third Seton Hall player to be honored as the Player of the Year, and first since Dana Wynne in 1997.

Finally, two other Pirates were named to all-MBWA teams, as fifth-year senior Daisha Simmons capped off her lone year in the Garden State with a first team selection, while junior forward Tabatha Richardson-Smith garnered second team honors.

All of Seton Hall's award winners will be officially recognized at the annual MBWA Haggerty Awards dinner, to be held Wednesday at the Westchester Marriott in Tarrytown.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Year six marked by a six-pack of emotions

The game and score that will last a lifetime, at least for me. (Photo courtesy of Jaden Daly)

Every year on April 17, I am afforded the opportunity to give back, so to speak, and express my gratitude toward all of you for being as supportive of this site as you are. Today will be no different, especially after what the past twelve months brought about.

As this past season began, and I may have mentioned this in passing, I was at a crossroads as it related to my broadcasting career. Even though the separation between myself and St. Francis College was mutual and amicable, it left me to perhaps feel that my window was closing, at which case I would still have this site to fall back on, as was intended during its inception six years ago today. Yet through circumstances beyond my control, and an outpouring of support I will get to later in this post, I truly learned that all the doors that closed one time would, in fact, open up again.

This last year was one of growth, as the past few on this site have been. I look at the traffic statistics from time to time, and still come away equal parts stunned and ecstatic over how much a project that started with a passing interest mushroomed into a little engine that could, a brand unto its own that counts over 1,300 pieces of content in its archive and over 2,400 Twitter followers, and is now approaching three million all-time page views.


That's a pretty big number, and it would not be possible without any of you. Without you, there truly is no me, and if there was one primary reason behind me continuing on with this site, your support is by far the first such factor on that list.

It was a year of sleepless nights and extensive travel, just like the previous two. All told, the final tally of live games checked in at 113, down from last year's count of 126, but still significant enough given the places the site has gone and the teams it has covered. From St. John's to Stanford, as far up as the TD Bank Sports Center and as far down as Alumni Gymnasium for the first time ever, if there was a game on the schedule, chances are that this site was represented. And what's more than that, the 113-game season was just me, and did not count the contributions of our three other staff members over the course of the year.

It was a year of transition, as Jason Schott; who had spent most of his time with me as the point man for this site's coverage of St. John's University, moved on for an expanded role with his own Brooklyn Fans website, as well as Joe McDonald's New York Sports Day. In his absence, Ray Floriani stepped up to become my right-hand man, incorporating his tempo-free statistics and photo essays with features that offered a glimpse beyond the players and coaches. Ray's work covering Seton Hall women's basketball and our close friend Tony Bozzella on a run to the NCAA Tournament yielded some of the most emotional and gripping columns this site has ever seen. Not to be forgotten, Joe Pantorno and Patrick McCormack were also integral parts of our coverage despite not being able to do as much as either of them would have liked.

It was a year of adversity, of having to put things in perspective on more than one occasion. Yes, my future was in limbo for a point, but that paled in comparison to the battles two of my closest friends fought, and ultimately won.

Over the summer, Josh Adams of College Hoops Digest, whose work has been featured here in the past on a magnificent tribute to former Fordham guard Branden Frazier, was stricken with cancer and underwent chemotherapy shortly before the annual media day season. I am proud to say that Josh has beaten it, and was able to once again spread his unique brand of hard-hitting coverage and unmatched Twitter humor upon his return to press row. I can't believe I'm writing this having grown up a North Carolina fan, but Duke winning the national championship this year is a fitting end to the season after seeing what Josh, who by his own admission still watches the Christian Laettner game-winner on a regular basis, had to go through just to get back.

Then, just when I thought the people around me were done with fighting for their life, cancer reared its ugly head again right before Christmas, this time to a man I consider a younger brother of sorts in this industry, Christian Heimall. Before the MAAC Tournament began, I wrote of how I had met Christian through my coverage of Manhattan College, for whom he does play-by-play. Sadly, his medical treatments kept him from donning the headset down the stretch, and when he recommended me to fill in for him, I considered it an honor.

Therefore, this past season was one of inspiration as well. Inspiration comes from a lot of places and a lot of people, and it most certainly did for me as I made the trip to Albany for what I now consider the defining moments of my career. I had questioned whether or not I would be able to call a game on the big stage again after six years away from it. But the more I prepared, the more confident I became. To Josh, to Christian, to Chris Williams; whose infectious enthusiasm and zeal for life kept me calm in the broadcast booth, to everyone who went out of their way to offer an encouraging word, you all inspired me in ways you may never fully grasp, and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
With Steve Masiello not too long after each of us got to experience a championship after enduring our own separate adversity on the road to this special moment. (Photo courtesy of Jaden Daly)

Finally, this season was one of redemption. As I was able to live out a dream of calling a championship game and got to proclaim to the world that Manhattan had once again won the MAAC championship, I got to see Steve Masiello, a coach I am proud to also call a friend, emerge from a tumultuous offseason in his own right to celebrate a feeling he never got to truly enjoy last year. The smile on his face before he and the Jaspers cut down the nets, and his response of "I know you are" after I expressed to him in that moment just how happy I was for him to win a championship is a memory that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

I cannot close without thanking everyone who helped get me through a trying year, physically, emotionally, mentally. In particular, special thanks is extended to Christian Heimall, Chris Williams, Kevin Ross, Joe Clifford, and Joe Hutter, for allowing me to work among their company. To my staff of Ray, Patrick, and Joe, for being as patient with me and staying the course to make sure their coverage exceeded the quality of our competitors. To every coach, player, sports information director, administrator, official, colleague; and most of all, fan, I appreciate any and all support you have given me over the last six years, and I hope that all of you are willing to have me back next season. There are way too many of you to mention, so please don't feel slighted if I didn't mention you specifically. Also, special thanks goes to both Marc Ernay of 1010 WINS and Bruce Beck of WNBC for showcasing this magic moment:

Our sixth year together has come to a close, and as we begin number seven, the future has an infinite amount of possibilities. It is my hope that you will all join me to experience it, regardless of what will transpire or how it will culminate.

Those of you who know me well are aware that I pride myself on letting the sights I see tell the story more than talking over the big moment. With that said, my final message is that each of you are once again; and will continue to be, much bigger parts of my life than any of you will ever know. No words can ever fully convey the love I have for all of you and the pride I take in your adamant support of myself and this site, so thank you again.

Until we meet again to bring the game of college basketball to one another in November, may God hold you in the palm of His hand. While we're waiting, though, let's appreciate the fact that we brought each other to the top of the world.

Thank you for everything, my friends.

Jaden Daly
Founder and Managing Editor
A Daly Dose Of Hoops

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ray Floriani's Tempo-Free America East Wrapup

Will Brown guided Albany to third straight America East championship as Great Danes were class of the conference throughout the season. (Photo courtesy of Vincent Simone via Big Apple Buckets)

The drama of the America East final almost made us forget. The sympathetic pain fans felt for Stony Brook’s Steve Pikiell, a class act and excellent coach, almost made us forget. In the championship, Albany edged Stony Brook for the title. For the moment, we forgot Vermont was one excellent club. The tempo-free breakdown of the America East covers only the conference meetings. (Numbers courtesy of bbstate.com)

1) Vermont (efficiency margin +20, 12-4 record)
2) Albany (+16, 15-1)
3) Stony Brook (+11, 12-4)
4) New Hampshire (+8, 11-5)
5) Hartford (-7, 7-9)
6) Binghamton (-7, 5-11)
7) UMass Lowell (-9, 6-10)
8) UMBC (-17, 2-14)
9) Maine (-21, 2-14)

The Catamounts of coach John Becker, eliminated in a heartbreaker of their own in the conference semifinals, were the pace setters in efficiency margin. Interestingly, the team that eliminated Vermont was Stony Brook.

Vermont shot a conference high 53.9% eFG percentage. The Catamounts’ TO rate was just 17.8%, and the 20% FT rate was second in the conference. On defense, their strength was in keeping shooting percentages low, as attested to the 41.8% eFG mark of their opponents, the best defensive mark in conference play.

Albany excelled on offense with a 51% eFG mark and the conference’s best FT rate at 23%. Interestingly, Vermont and Albany were the only two conference teams to surpass 20% in FT rate.

The top four in the conference were the only ones to post efficiency margins in the positive. Setting the offensive pace:

1) Albany (107 offensive efficiency)
2) Vermont (106)
3) Stony Brook (101)
4) New Hampshire (100)

That group represented the only teams in conference to equal or crack the offensive efficiency century mark.

Leading Defenses:
1) Vermont (86 defensive efficiency)
2) Stony Brook (90)
3) Albany (91)

UMass Lowell (22.7%) and Binghamton (20.8) were the only two teams to force over 20% in turnovers on defense. Both teams wound up subpar on defense, as their allowed eFG mark exceeded 50 percent.

Possessions: Every conference team was under 70 possessions. The fastest pace was ninth-place Maine, at 65.9 possessions per game. The most deliberate was champion Albany, at 61.7. The range between these two extremes was only four possessions, meaning this conference was very similar in its tempo-dictating philosophy.

Care for the ball: Just two were equal or over the 20% ‘barrier’ in TO rate. Only UMass Lowell (20%) and UMBC (21.7%) were above the accepted cutoff. The leader was Stony Brook, at 17.3 percent.

Championship: Albany 51, Stony Brook 50
That classic encounter denying Stony Brook that coveted trip to the Big Dance. To put more salt on the wound, Stony Brook actually ’won’ the offensive efficiency. The Seawolves checked in at 83 to the 82 of Albany. As noted before, in 95 to 97% (depending on the study) of cases, the team winning offensive efficiency, wins the game. Not this time.

In a low 60-possession (Stony Brook 60, Albany 62) game, the Seawolves held Albany to 32% eFG shooting. The differences? Offensive rebounding percentage and the foul line. Albany held a 32-23 percent edge in offensive rebounding percentage. On the surface, not a huge margin, but this game did come down to a one-possession affair. Extending a few extra possessions was crucial for Will Brown's club. Stony Brook also shot just 10-of-19 from the free throw line, a 53 percent clip.

Player of the Year: Jameel Warney, Stony Brook
The 6-8 junior forward averaged 16.4 points per game in conference play. Warney posted a 24.4 per game efficiency using the NBA model. The OE metric saw Warney post a very efficient .722, largely due to his 150 offensive rebounds. Also, both efficiency metrics were aided by his 72 assists against 59 turnovers, and 87 blocked shots, simply an all-around effort deserving of the accolades bestowed upon him.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Manhattan preparing to reload once again entering next season

Shane Richards ushers Manhattan into latest retooling going into next season, when Jaspers will seek a third consecutive MAAC championship. (Photo courtesy of Vincent Simone via Big Apple Buckets)

The cycle of success at a mid-major program is, historically, so fleeting to a point where it is commonplace to see teams at the level in a constant ebb-and-flow phase. The true sign of a bona fide program is one that is able to endure the ever-constant player turnover, year after year, yet still manage to remain among the elite in their respective conference, the mark of a winner that has turned Gonzaga, VCU, and Wichita State; among others, into household names at the national level.

Manhattan is probably not at that particular stage just yet, but following a season in which the Jaspers still managed to successfully defend their Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship despite having to replace their three leading scorers and pillars of the program for four years; five in the case of George Beamon, one could certainly argue that the outfit from Riverdale has taken the first step toward potentially joining the conversation as one of the exceptions to the peaks and valleys of life as a mid-major.

"I hope the thing everyone sees," head coach Steve Masiello stated when reviewing how this past year turned out, "is when you look at a guy like RaShawn Stores and you look at a guy like Ashton Pankey, and look at even a Donovan Kates, you saw how much their roles changed over the last 16 months. Well, the same thing is now going to happen for Rich Williams, Zane Waterman and Calvin Crawford. Just because they haven't been able to showcase their skills or talents doesn't mean they're not terrific players and good enough to get it done."

Player development is key wherever you go in college basketball, and only more important once a program has shown its ability to be sustained after the foundation is built. In the case of the Jaspers, it was the work that Masiello and his staff put in with the likes of Pankey, Shane Richards, Stores, and several others on the roster to serve as complementary pieces alongside Emmy Andujar that proved the sum of the whole was indeed greater than the parts, a quality that helped Manhattan rebound from a 2-7 start to win a second consecutive MAAC crown.

"That's kind of been the mistake some people have made in regards to our program," Masiello said of the doubts and concerns that were raised going into last season. "They say 'Well, how are they going to do it? They lost Rhamel (Brown), George (Beamon) and Mike (Alvarado). How are they going to do it? They lost Emmy, this one, that one.'"

"I understand the concerns, and I have the same concerns," he continued. I also know what I have coming back in Rich Williams, Tyler Wilson, Shane Richards, and no one is talking about Samson Usilo; who I think is going to be one of the most talented players in the league, and then you add Calvin and Zane Waterman and Jermaine Lawrence, and I think you have an opportunity to be a really good team."

With Andujar having graduated and Pankey on his way to a professional career, the stage is now set for Richards to emerge as the Jaspers' leader as he enters his senior season, but standing alongside him will be Manhattan's younger core, with a greater role for a team that now looks to further its status as a mid-major that is on top to stay, at least for the foreseeable future.

"I think you're going to see guys like Zane Waterman, Rich Williams, Calvin Crawford, (and) I think those guys are going to kind of transform into different roles that they're relishing the opportunity," Masiello predicted. "It's very similar to what AP and Shane did a year ago. That's what I'm proud of, that we can withstand the loss of, basically, four 1,000-point scorers in the last two years, and I still think we'll be extremely competitive. That's the beauty of our program. There's always going to be turnover and guys moving on, but we're always going to have guys ready, and that's what a program is about."

Monday, April 13, 2015

Zach Lewis to transfer from Canisius

Canisius was dealt a significant blow with news that sophomore guard Zach Lewis will transfer. (Photo courtesy of The Buffalo News)

The brightest light in Canisius' future will soon be appearing at the end of a different tunnel.

The Golden Griffins announced today that Zach Lewis, their sophomore shooting guard and third team all-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference honoree, will transfer upon completion of the Spring 2015 semester. Along with graduating seniors Josiah Heath and Jeremiah Williams, Canisius must now replace a trio that accounted for nearly 47 percent of its total offense.

"We are disappointed to learn that Zach wants to transfer from Canisius," head coach Jim Baron said in a release issued by the college. "He has been a hard worker and a good teammate, and we wish him the best in his future endeavors."

A native of Windsor, Connecticut, Lewis was the Griffs' leading scorer this past season, averaging 12.5 points per game on a team that competed in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament for the third consecutive season, reaching the quarterfinals before being eliminated by NJIT. He will have two years of eligibility remaining.

More information on Zach Lewis' transfer will be posted as it becomes available.

Barry Rohrssen joins Mullin's staff at St. John's as associate head coach

Barry Rohrssen, a friend of Chris Mullin's for over 30 years, is now his right-hand man, having been introduced as associate head coach at St. John's. (Photo courtesy of the New York Post)

Upon his introduction as head coach of his alma mater two weeks ago, Chris Mullin wasted little time relaying how vital a strong staff would be as he replaced Steve Lavin at St. John's.

Today, the most integral piece of Mullin's support system on the bench has arrived.

Barry Rohrssen, known to everyone in the New York college basketball circuit, has agreed to leave his post on John Calipari's staff at the University of Kentucky to join the new era surrounding the Red Storm, returning to the Big Apple for the first time since 2011.

"Chris is a lifelong friend," said Rohrssen, whose connection to Mullin goes back to when the two attended Xaverian High School in Brooklyn, albeit in different grades, "and it is an honor to join his staff at St. John's University. This opportunity is a blessing. It is with both pride and pleasure to be back home in the great city of New York."

A native of the Park Slope section of Brooklyn, Rohrssen, known affectionately as "Slice" within the basketball industry, is perhaps best known for his five-year tenure as the head coach at Manhattan College, leading the Jaspers from 2006 to 2011 before being replaced by Steve Masiello. Prior to his stint in Riverdale, Rohrssen earned his reputation as the lead recruiter on Jamie Dixon's staff at the University of Pittsburgh, where he returned for the 2013-14 season. While with the Panthers, he was responsible for establishing the pipeline to New York for Dixon, landing talent the likes of Chris Taft, Carl Krauser, and Levance Fields as Pitt established itself as a perennial contender in the Big East Conference. In his short time at Kentucky, Rohrssen played an integral part in securing a verbal commitment from highly touted recruit Isaiah Briscoe, the guard from Roselle Catholic High School in New Jersey who picked the Wildcats over St. John's.

"Let's all congratulate Slice on his new opportunity at St. John's," Kentucky head coach John Calipari tweeted earlier this afternoon. "When we talked to me about the offer, we both got emotional. At the end of the day, it was an offer in every way; including going home, that I didn't think Slice could pass on. Slice is not only a great person, he's a terrific coach and recruiter, and one of my most loyal friends."

In addition to Rohrssen, St. John's officially announced the hire of Matt Abdelmassih as an assistant coach. Abdelmassih, a Class of 2007 graduate of St. John's and one-time student manager under former head coach Norm Roberts, was in attendance at Mullin's press conference, where he was announced as the former NBA All-Star's first hire after spending the past five seasons on the staff of Fred Hoiberg at Iowa State. A rising star at only 30 years old, his resume speaks for itself, luring transfers the likes of Royce White, DeAndre Kane, Bryce DeJean-Jones and Jameel McKay to Ames to keep the Cyclones at the top of the Big 12 Conference.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Steve Masiello reflects on Manhattan's season

Manhattan's season may have ended prematurely in NCAA Tournament, but it hasn't stopped Steve Masiello from savoring a second straight taste of success. (Photo courtesy of Vincent Simone via Big Apple Buckets)

The casual basketball fan may look at Manhattan College and think nothing of the Jaspers' 19-14 season, which included a second consecutive Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship before a loss to Hampton in the NCAA Tournament ended a run that some may have viewed as improbable.

Yet even one month later, and with the national championship having been awarded to officially conclude college basketball for 2014-15, the significance of what Manhattan accomplished is still not lost on the man responsible for not just a resurgence, but also for having validated his beliefs of where his team would be when it mattered most.

"It was phenomenal," Steve Masiello revealed with regard toward his fourth season at the helm of the Jaspers, one which began with uncertainty as to how the trio of George Beamon, Michael Alvarado and Rhamel Brown would be replaced. "At the end of the day, we're back-to-back MAAC champions with back-to-back NCAA berths. Not many teams can say that, anywhere in the country, for any conference."

A combination of experienced upperclassmen that had been through the wars, such as Emmy Andujar and MAAC Tournament MVP Ashton Pankey, as well as the emergence of Shane Richards and confident senior leadership of RaShawn Stores; coupled with Masiello's second-to-none player development skills that were showcased in the maturation of younger players the likes of Rich Williams and Tyler Wilson, were central in the Jaspers repeating as MAAC champions. Although the consecutive titles are something Masiello was able to experience as an assistant in Riverdale in 2003 and 2004, even he admitted there was a difference when comparing 2014 and 2015 to the Jaspers of a decade ago.

"That team was a team that had everyone back," he said of the Luis Flores-led Manhattan squad that rebounded from a loss to eventual national champion Syracuse in 2003 to upset Florida in the NCAA Tournament the following year. "This team was kind of, it had guys back, but the alpha characters, so to speak, were new guys in town with the loss of three 1,000-point scorers. I think that's one of the things I'm most proud of, is that (with) what we lost, we were still able to stay right there."

Manhattan will face a similar predicament going into next season, wherein Andujar and Pankey will have moved on to the next level, leaving Richards as the de facto face of the team when looking at the roster on paper. And although the Jaspers have already embarked upon the road to joining La Salle and Siena as the only schools to win three straight MAAC championships, the only active MAAC coach with more than one to his credit put his unbridled hunger and determination on hold for a moment, marveling at the accolades his program has already managed to garner.

"It was a great way for this group to go out," Masiello proudly proclaimed, "from just kind of the whole thing we've been through with last year, the slow start this year, the adversity. These guys just rose above it all, and it was one of the most fulfilling feelings that I've been a part of in a sense from the way these young men handled themselves, and what they've done and accomplished."

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Chaise Daniels developing into next great Quinnipiac forward

If freshman season is any indication, Chaise Daniels could be latest in a long of line of dominant Quinnipiac big men. (Photo courtesy of Quinnipiac University)

Across two different conferences, Quinnipiac has come to be known for two things: A rebounding prowess unlike any other in the nation, and an assembly line-esque turnout of forwards who have not only been integral parts of the Bobcats' efforts, but imposed their will on both the offensive and defensive ends, equal parts productive and physical.

When Justin Rutty graduated in 2011, Ike Azotam was groomed to replace the one-time leading rebounder in Northeast Conference history, doing an admirable job along the way. One year behind Azotam was Ousmane Drame, the reigning Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year who averaged a double-double per game in his senior season. The next generation of burgeoning big man in Hamden is a six-foot, eight-inch specimen who, even if his statistics as a freshman may not necessarily have been gaudy, looks well on his way to being the same "something special" kind of player in the same vein as the three aforementioned names before him.

A homegrown talent of sorts out of the prestigious program at Hillhouse High School in New Haven, Chaise Daniels did not see much time in his rookie season, only averaging just over fourteen minutes per game playing behind Drame and Justin Harris in the Quinnipiac rotation. Once on the floor, though, Daniels made his minutes count, averaging three points and three rebounds per game, numbers that equate to nearly nine points and over seven rebounds per contest when averaged per 40 minutes, which translates to a more than serviceable stat line that has Tom Moore confident that his developing talent from nearby Meriden, Connecticut will be ready to take the next step as he enters his sophomore campaign.

"His upside is through the roof," Moore said of Daniels, whose two double-figure scoring efforts this past season came on his home floor at the TD Bank Sports Center, first against eventual MAAC champion Manhattan before replicating the feat against regular season conference winner Iona. "You don't see big kids his size that move as well as he does, and play as hard on a day-to-day basis as he does."

What sets Daniels apart is not the double-doubles that the Bobcat big men before him became synonymous with, at least not yet. Rather, what makes this rising star such a unique commodity is the determination with which he approaches his craft, a quality that is to be appreciated even more in a culture that has favored instant gratification in the prep and AAU circuits, where a player often transfers or finds a change of scenery if he is overlooked as opposed to the old-school method of working harder to improve.

"The thing that excites me about him isn't the two days a week where we play," Moore gushed, "it's the four days a week where we practice. He comes with an intensity every single day that he comes out of the locker room. That's going to serve him well as a young big guy, and I'm shocked at how much progress he's made in such a short amount of time. We started working with him last July, and it's amazing how far he's come."

Moore is no stranger to game-changing forwards, working with them long before his arrival at Quinnipiac, having helped develop the likes of Charlie Villanueva, Rudy Gay, Richard Hamilton, and Emeka Okafor while serving as an assistant to Hall of Famer Jim Calhoun at the University of Connecticut. But while the Bobcats' head coach, going into his ninth season at the helm, says that Ousmane Drame has made the most progress between his freshman and sophomore seasons since replacing Joe DeSantis in 2007, he insists that there will be a changing of the guard in that department in the very near future.

"I think Chaise will pass the improvement, the amount of improvement, that Ousmane made between (his) freshman and sophomore year," said Moore. "He has a skill that I see less and less college kids having now, and that skill is that relentless push every time he works out. Chaise Daniels has a motor that he turns on every time he goes on the court, whether it's a practice, an individual (workout) in the summer, or weightlifting session, or a game, and that's just pulling him along at a rate that's really, really impressive."

Only time will tell exactly how much of a jump Daniels will make going into his second season, but going into a year where his coach insists there are more unknown factors surrounding his team than at any other point in his tenure, he is firm in his belief that the one tangible quality Daniels possesses before the ball is tipped for the first time in November will go a long way in easing the potential feeling-out process between each member of the team.

"The experience is huge," Moore affirmed toward his soon-to-be sophomore. "He's been in every gym, he knows different teams' playing styles, he knows the physicality of the league now, and he embraces it. He's excited about it, and I think his potential is limitless."

Tom Moore excited for future at Quinnipiac

A graduating senior core will prompt new faces to progress for Quinnipiac next season, but Tom Moore is optimistic about what lies ahead for Bobcats. (Photo courtesy of Big Apple Buckets)

What started as a potentially promising season for Quinnipiac led to one of adversity after Giovanni McLean, the Bobcats' highly touted junior college transfer, was declared ineligible, leaving head coach Tom Moore without the experienced point guard he had hoped would run the offense of a team that came within just two wins of a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship in its first season in the league.

Yet, as Moore's teams have always had a knack for doing over his eight-year tenure in Hamden, the Bobcats soldiered on, finishing 15-15 and sixth in the MAAC when things could have fared much worse after an 0-4 start to conference play.

"We were sort of an interesting group all season," Moore assessed in retrospect. "I said this all year, we were both very old and very young, all at the same time. In our top nine, we had four seniors, four freshmen, and a junior at the end of the year, and that led to the positives of having senior experience and leadership, but there were times where we looked very inexperienced."

Upon losing their first four MAAC games, Quinnipiac rebounded to win eight of the next eleven, but quickly regressed as the stretch run ensued, losing four of their final five to finish with a 9-11 mark going into the conference tournament. In their only contest in Albany, the Bobcats got 27 points and 23 rebounds from Ousmane Drame, but were done in by a scorching three-point shooting display from Marist, who pulled off the upset before losing to eventual MAAC champion Manhattan in the quarterfinals.

"I was proud of how we picked ourselves up and inserted ourselves into the discussion a little bit after that start," Moore admitted. "I think we relied on what we do well, and our defense was very good, but the offensive improvement and offensive execution down the stretch of games wasn't at the level to get us to the top of the league."

With that said, Moore now pilots a makeover of sorts entering his ninth season at the helm. Gone will be Drame, the MAAC Defensive Player of the Year and second team all-conference selection this past season, as well as stalwart guards Zaid Hearst and Evan Conti, as well as versatile senior forward Justin Harris. But despite what would appear to be a massive loss on paper, the Bobcats' coach; even when cautiously warning that there would be more variables on his roster than in years past, displayed the stout optimism and eagerness in putting his new product on the floor that would be expected of all branches of the Jim Calhoun coaching tree.

"I'll tell you what," Moore stated, "it is the most number of unknowns that we've had going from one year to the next in all eight of my years I've been here. We got Chaise Daniels a lot of minutes, we got Ayron Hutton a lot of minutes, and we got James Ford a lot of minutes, in terms of underclassmen. Overall, we made good strides this year in terms of getting these younger guys' feet wet, but it's going to be interesting. I think next year, we'll be more reliant on our entire team until we sort of figure out roles."

With McLean, Quinnipiac would get a third guard to join Hutton and Ford in the backcourt, while Daniels and the combination of Samuel Dingba and Alain Chigha can be expected to see an increase in minutes. Even though no one on the Bobcat roster is currently a household name, Moore is okay with that, steadfast in his belief that some of the natural talent on his team will eventually emerge.

"There won't be anyone on our team that will come in first or second team preseason all-MAAC," he mentioned as a de facto disclaimer, "because we just don't have the resume to be considered. But I do believe a couple of these guys will emerge as those types of guys by the end of it."

It is this collection of parts that will build on a program that has won at least 15 games in each of Moore's eight seasons, one that has been renowned for its aggressive rebounding tactics. However, the most intriguing piece to the puzzle will be the flexibility that Moore can apply to in-game strategy and the combinations he puts together.

"The thing I'm excited about," he offered, "from an X-and-O standpoint, is I do expect us to be a little bit more creative defensively, and I think I'll experiment more defensively with this group. We've been pretty vanilla over the last couple of years in terms of how we approached you defensively on a game-to-game situation. I think we can experiment more with this group, in terms of defending the full court and the half court a little bit more, and secondly, we've got a whole lot of offensive improvement that we have to make, that we've already begun with the guys that are here now."

Quinnipiac's roster is still, admittedly, a couple of pieces away from being finalized, but the multifaceted possibilities the finished product will bring on has Moore invigorated to begin the offseason once more, fueled by the natural sense of renewed hope that the period in between "One Shining Moment" and the start of practice cultivates.

"I'm excited," he reiterated. "I don't think there will be one position right now that will be set in stone. These are the types of challenges that really, as a coach, I think sometimes get you more charged up sometimes than when you have six or seven returning guys that are pretty much established."