Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sacred Heart 71, Fordham 70: Final thoughts on the Pioneers

Sacred Heart responded after Anthony Latina picked up a late technical foul, digging in to give their head coach arguably one of his biggest career wins. (Photo by Vincent Simone/NYC Buckets)

BRONX, NY -- In the wake of Sacred Heart's 71-70 victory over Fordham, one that saw the Pioneers close the game on a 16-4 run, we leave you with some final thoughts following our postgame chat with head coach Anthony Latina; one of our most ardent supporters even if we don't cover him as often, and an excellent quote in general:

1) "We caught some breaks, let's be honest."
Latina was straight to the point in summarizing Wednesday night's upset, reiterating that Sacred Heart was fortuitous to take advantage of Fordham making just eight field goals in the second half after shooting 59 percent from the floor in the opening stanza, and only two of their eleven three-point attempts after the intermission. "I was proud of the way our guys fought, proud of the way they picked me up when I got a bad technical, but our guys stepped up and I'm real proud of them," Latina admitted.

2) Offense overcame carelessness.
The Pioneers turned the ball over 24 times and surrendered 13 steals to Fordham, but shooting 61 percent (22-for-36) from the floor mitigated those statistics, as did the 86 percent assist rate (19 assists on 22 made field goals) that Latina called "a ridiculous number." "We didn't execute any plays, but we played with good principles in terms of our assists," he said. Charles Tucker led the way with eight helpers, picking up the slack on a night where Quincy McKnight committed ten turnovers alone. "It was a gut-check win, and I couldn't be happier," said Latina.

3) Could Sean Hoehn be the answer post-Cane Broome?
Hoehn, who is the cousin of Villanova legend Ryan Arcidiacono, was a difference maker for the Pioneers in their win over Hofstra; and with 17 points and six rebounds, was an integral piece to the puzzle against Fordham tonight. However, the sophomore is a long way from home. "He played great today, probably one of his best games of his career," Latina candidly assessed. "He has not been great this year, but we know it's going to come because he's such a hard worker. He's almost trying too hard, so for him to shoot the ball the way he did and have the floor game that he does, he's playing with a little more poise. We need him to play well."

4) What some may be taking for granted about the Pioneers:
That would be the depth and pieces on this year's roster. "I think a strength of our team; last year, it was about Cane and if Cane didn't get big numbers, we couldn't win," Latina said. "Now, Quincy; who arguably is our best player, had two points and ten turnovers, and we still won a game against a team that's very good. I like our depth and different guys helping out."

5) De'von Barnett's game-winning layup, in Latina's own words:
"There were a lot of timeouts because of checking the clock, so we knew what we wanted to run if they were in zone or if they were in man. The play actually broke down, and what we were trying to run, we were trying to get a three for Sean in the corner. It broke down and Charles really kept his handle, and against a team as good as Fordham, you've got to keep your hand almost Steve Nash-like. Guys will be open, and he makes a great find, De'von makes a great catch."

6) More on Barnett:
"We need De'von to be a good player. Before he got hurt last year, there was a lot of questions on who was our best player: Cane Broome or De'von Barnett. Well, De'von sits out the year because of an injury, Cane plays and now everybody forgets about De'von. Now he's starting to get healthy again. He's not 100 percent, but he's getting there, and he can be a weapon for us when he's healthy. Hopefully he'll be a weapon for us when we get into league play."

7) Was Fordham a good prep for Mount Mayhem?
Yes and no, says Latina, but he agreed by and large. "They play very similar," he cautioned. "The only difference is Mount will go a little bit more in the full court, pressure and trapping. We said it a lot in our scouting report, this is very similar because against Mount, you can't run any offense. They just trap you, so you have to play principles and move the ball."

8) Is Wednesday's win a confidence booster with six of Sacred Heart's next eight games at home?
"Hopefully," Latina optimistically proclaimed, though adding a disclaimer at the end. "Good teams are consistent," he elaborated. "If we think this makes Saturday (against Hartford) an automatic, we are foolish. If we don't play our best, we're going to lose, and our guys need to know that. The teams that have the best success are consistently good. We're not there yet, but hopefully we can be consistently good, and our depth helps us in that regard."

Sacred Heart 71, Fordham 70: Quotes, Takeaways & Nuggets

Fordham head coach Jeff Neubauer's opening statement:
"First of all, our success this year; the five wins that we've had, they really have been based on defense. We've really defended terrific, so even though we were 5-2, we really felt good about our team because of our defensive effort. Not only the steals, but the fact that we really were taking stops from people, and so I do think that's the story of this game. Sacred Heart scored 71, and we knew they were an explosive offensive team. The phrase we used before the game was 'they were the fastest team to offense that we've played so far,' and they scored 27 points in transition. To me, that's the game."

On allowing Sacred Heart to shoot 61 percent from the floor despite forcing 24 turnovers and 13 steals:
"Yeah, 61 percent, that number doesn't mean as much to us as it means to other teams, simply because we are stealing the ball or turning other people over at such a high rate. They did get some good looks at the rim, and those, we're working to get rid of. We didn't protect the basket very well."

On Joseph Chartouny, who left the game in the first half and did not return:
"I haven't seen Joe. I'm not sure what happened, I do know that the doctors said he could not come back in the game. There was some blood, maybe there was something with his elbow."

On whether not having Chartouny changes his game plan:
"I think the way Will Tavares played, Will stepped in and really played great. He played 30 minutes and really shot the ball well, and was pretty effective defensively. I don't look at that being what cost us the game."

On Javontae Hawkins:
"He played really like we asked him to play, so he was not trying to create too much. He really was efficient. Some of the things that really hurt us, we posted up a few times and got called for offensive fouls. Those were maybe four of our 17 turnovers. We're not used to those four turnovers, so I've got to watch the tape, but as far as how we valued the ball other than those post-ups, I thought it was terrific and Javontae really played with the right purpose."

On what Hawkins gives this team that it may not have had last year:
"What he is, he's aggressive; and so the fact that he plays in attack mode, that's really a valuable thing to have on any team. Today, he really figured out how to play in attack mode and value the ball, so he played a really good game."

On non-conference tests:
"This is what the preseason is full of, meaning tests; and what I said to our staff earlier, I said Sacred Heart's statistics...because they've been on the road the entire year, their statistics don't look very good. But they're certainly a much better basketball team than what their stats are, and they did find an effective way to guard us in the second half, where we struggled to score. The bigger story, I think, is simply how they attacked our defense, and when they weren't turning it over, they were finding good shots."

On switching from man-to-man defense to a 2-3 zone late in the game:
"We told our team going into the game in this very room that this was strictly a man-to-man game, but what happened was they really were attacking us well, so we did have to try to hold them off with maybe two or three possessions of 2-3."

Nuggets of Note:
- Joseph Chartouny was limited to just nine minutes after suffering what WFUV termed a "deep elbow laceration." There is no word on when the sophomore point guard and reigning Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year will return, but it would be shocking if he were not back by Fordham's game one week from tomorrow against St. John's.

- For all the advantages that went Fordham's way in the box score, such as a plus-7 turnover margin and 27-17 edge in points off turnovers, the Rams were decimated on the boards to the tune of a 32-14 runaway. Sacred Heart's Joseph Lopez nearly matched Fordham's collective rebounding total, grabbing ten caroms of his own in a double-double.

- Javontae Hawkins affects the game in so many ways, and it is easy to see from the onset. Shooting 9-of-11 from the floor, the former South Florida castoff is clearly a solid shot maker and disciplined player, but it is his defensive mentality that makes him the total package. Coming from a similar style and influence at Eastern Kentucky, where he played under Dan McHale a year ago, Hawkins is able to translate his skill set seamlessly to a team that plays very close to that philosophy.

- Fordham was also on the short end of a 28-15 disparity in free throw attempts, something that may not have played a large factor given the transition nature of tonight's contest, but nonetheless it is a factor that the Rams will need to work on going into Atlantic 10 play.

- Finally, the turning point of this game was twofold. First, a 17-3 Fordham run late in the first half gave the Rams the control they needed to pull away to a convincing victory. However, any momentum the home team hoped to carry out of the locker room from that was snuffed out by Sacred Heart's gradual comeback. Secondly, the other turning point came with 2:01 remaining in regulation, after head coach Anthony Latina picked up a technical foul in the midst of an 11-0 spurt for his Pioneers. Hawkins made one of two shots before David Pekarek, who was fouled behind the three-point line in the act of shooting prior to the technical, made all three of his shots to give the Rams a 70-66 lead. To Sacred Heart's credit, what could have been a collapse turned into a spirited rally, as they looked for the most efficient shots over the final two minutes to pull off a significant upset on the road.

Hofstra survives late comeback to narrowly escape Columbia

Brian Bernardi's 21 points led five Hofstra players in double figures as Pride, who saw 12-point lead erased in final minutes, came back to defeat Columbia. (Photo by Vincent Simone/NYC Buckets)

NEW YORK -- Forgive Joe Mihalich if he feels like he coached two games in one night.

After all, Hofstra's head coach saw his team's 12-point lead evaporate in four minutes after maintaining a comfortable balance through most of the night against local rival Columbia, only to have to wrest the outcome of the contest away over the final 120 seconds in a furious exchange between both programs.

"I felt like we won the game twice," Mihalich assessed as the Pride survived Columbia's 17-4 run down the stretch to emerge from Levien Gymnasium with a skin-of-the-teeth 88-86 win over the Lions. "We had the good lead and played really well. We had a lot of guys help us, but to their credit, they just wouldn't go away."

Hofstra (5-3) saw five players amass double-figure point totals, led by 21 points from senior Brian Bernardi, who shot 6-for-12 from the floor. The Staten Islander drained five three-pointers in the victory, giving him 202 for his career in Hempstead and moving him into second on the Pride's all-time list, ahead of Carlos Rivera and trailing only program icon Antoine Agudio.

"I said this to Brian at the beginning of the year: Brian doesn't have to do anything different," Mihalich matter-of-factly stated with regard to his senior sharpshooter assuming the lead role in Hofstra's attack upon the graduation of both Juan'ya Green and Ameen Tanksley. "He's a leader by just being who he is. Nobody's going to work any harder than him, and my battle cry to Brian was 'keep being who you are, and you're going to lead by example.' He's done that."

Hofstra needed Bernardi more than usual after Columbia (3-3) drew two fouls against Rokas Gustys in the first three minutes, forcing the Pride to play smaller without their all-conference forward, a lineup that became more critical when Hunter Sabety racked up a pair of fouls as well. With Ty Greer (15 points, eight rebounds) playing in the middle alongside four guards, Mihalich found a lineup that could not only be serviceable in game action, but one that could create opportunities at the same time.

"Tyquone Greer did a good job in the middle there," the coach reiterated, highlighting the impact of the junior college transfer from Chicago. "If we have to go to that lineup, it looks like we could do that, which is good. It's still kind of early in the season and we're still learning about our team, but this was one of the things we learned."

Coming out of the intermission with a 39-33 halftime lead, Gustys made up for lost time almost immediately, scoring the first points of the second stanza and helping Hofstra stretch their lead into double digits before accumulating his third foul. With the Lithuanian big man on the bench, Columbia ripped off a 12-3 spurt to get within one point before the Pride slowly rebuilt their cushion, matching their largest advantage of the night with a 12-point margin with 6:10 to play in regulation.

"I don't think we were worried," said Bernardi when the Lions turned an 81-69 deficit into a slim one-point lead four minutes and five seconds later. "We all huddled up and locked in. We knew we had to get some stops and we knew we had to make free throws at the end."

Columbia fed off the duo of Luke Petrasek and Nate Hickman, who accounted for 27 and 21 points, respectively; as well as a stifling full-court press that caught Hofstra visibly off guard as the Pride struggled to close out the game.

"They became hesitant," said head coach Jim Engles of Hofstra's difficulty handling the pressure. "They were up there trying to protect the lead and we became aggressive. I thought we did a good job in that situation, but that's something we have to do a better job in the half-court with."

Columbia took a brief 86-85 initiative with 2:05 on the clock after a Petrasek three-pointer from the left arc, but surrendered it on the next possession when Eli Pemberton sank both free throws after drawing a foul, swinging the pendulum back into Hofstra's favor. The Lions had three chances to secure a win in the final minute, most notably after forcing a held ball when Bernardi could not keep possession, but CJ Davis' layup attempt was blocked by Pemberton before Greer stripped away a last-ditch effort to win in regulation.

Following a split by Deron Powers (15 points, eight assists) at the foul line that put Hofstra ahead by two, the home team had yet one more chance to walk off victorious on their home floor, but Mike Smith's runner from beyond the mid-court stripe bounced off the rim, giving the Pride a valuable non-conference win in what amounted to a shootout on both ends.

"We just kind of had a toughness to us at the end," said Mihalich on a night where Hofstra shot 59 percent (31-for-53) from the floor despite allowing a 50 percent (31-for-62) clip to Columbia. "Some guys made plays when they absolutely had to, whether it was Deron with the drive, or Brian or Jamall (Robinson) doing something on the defensive end. Without sounding a little corny here, it was just that will to win. These guys just wouldn't let a loss happen to them."

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Seton Hall/Advocare Invitational: Thoughts & Quotes

Following Advocare Invitational experience that yielded only one win, Kevin Willard goes back to work with Seton Hall as non-conference season heats up. (Photo by the Asbury Park Press)

Special To Daly Dose Of Hoops

1) Seton Hall's showing at the Advocare Invitational was one part poor draw and one part bad luck.
A team like Florida, who can match the Pirates' athleticism position by position, is not a terrible loss by any means. A win against a low major like Quinnipiac is a given. There is really no excuse to losing to Stanford, though. The Cardinal should be in the lower tier of the Pac-12 this season and still seem to be fitting into their new system under first-year head coach Jerod Haase. What's disconcerting about the loss was the way Seton Hall beat themselves. There was hardly any movement on offense and 20 turnovers by the starting five. This is a veteran team, and a lack of an experienced point guard hurts them. 

As brilliant as Khadeen Carrington has played this season, he is not a true point guard, and Madison Jones is a scoring liability at the point guard position. Myles Powell is the long-term solution, but that's asking a lot of the freshman to take the reins of the offense. There's no easy remedy to this problem and Seton Hall will be susceptible to turnovers as long as the point guard solution is a work in progress.

2) From Orlando to Hawaii in a week is a little much to ask for a team. 
The Pirates were gassed Sunday night, and to ask them to come home and play Columbia in a few days, then jet out to Hawaii for a tournament might have lingering consequences for the 2016-17 season. For recruiting purposes, it's great to get the school name out there. Practically, it's not going to do the Pirates as much good in the short term. Even if they have a successful trip, traveling thousands of miles to play in the middle of the season runs the risk of burnout.

3) Thursday's game against Columbia is the classic "trap game."
Lions coach Jim Engles is one of the best game coaches in the nation, and the two teams beat a common opponent in Quinnipiac by the same point spread. They are not a team to take lightly and with injuries starting to take their toll on the Pirates, their bench has to step up. Veer Singh has been a disappointment as an off the bench three point specialist and Rashard Anthony seems like he gets two fouls every time he checks into the game. A loss to Columbia would make a really long plane ride to Hawaii even longer.  The onus is on the coaching staff to have the team prepared for Thursday's game.

"The third game in four days, going up against a really good defensive team, I thought they did a good job of stopping our dribble penetration. Their guards did a good job of cutting our angles down, getting into some passing lanes. They got 13 steals, which really hurt us." - On Stanford's defense and its responsibility for the Pirates' cold shooting

"Ish could have played, that was my decision. With their size and their physicality inside, without him having a couple of days of practice, I didn't want...the shoulder's fine. That's 100 percent, it was more or less me wanting to see him with two days of practice and him get his rhythm back." - On Ismael Sanogo and his absence against Stanford

"We knew this was going to be a tough stretch with this tournament and Hawaii, but we've got to rebound. We've just got to get back to doing a couple of little things. It's not major things." - On traveling to Orlando and Hawaii, with a home game against Columbia sandwiched in between

"I looked at our schedule, and I'm not worried about that at all. I also know what the league is all about. We're going to have plenty of opportunities for RPI wins in the league." - On Stanford possibly being beneficial to Seton Hall's RPI

"He's handled it well. The other four guys haven't. That's something we've got to go back and work on, because it's something that's going to continue to happen." - On Angel Delgado being double-teamed and how the rest of the team has adjusted

Monday, November 28, 2016

Welton's career-high 27 carries Saint Peter's past BU

Quadir Welton's 27 points set new career high for senior forward as Saint Peter's defeated Boston University in start of three-game homestand. (Photo by Vincent Simone/NYC Buckets)

JERSEY CITY, NJ -- For two seasons now, John Dunne has raved about the potential of Quadir Welton, his senior forward and focal point of the Saint Peter's interior.

Many times over the course of his career, Welton has backed up the high praise, usually in decisive victories, but never quite like the degree to which he validated both himself and his coach Monday night.

Welton's 27 points, a personal best, led four Peacocks in double figures as Saint Peter's withstood two challenges from Boston University before pulling away with double-digit runs each time to open a three-game homestand with a commanding 80-67 win, their first at the Yanitelli Center this season.

"I'm really just playing with a lot of confidence," Welton remarked after a 33-minute masterpiece in which the visiting Terriers were unable to find a true solution to the riddle of his game. "I know my teammates have confidence in me to get the ball back to me, and me just believing in myself, knowing I can get fouled or one-on-one, do something good, I could post."

Saint Peter's (3-2) enjoyed a dual benefit of Welton being efficient on his banner night, as the Philadelphia native achieved his point total on an impeccable 10-for-12 shooting display from the floor.

"He had that runner in the first half from about 8-to-10 feet, and when that went in, I said 'I think he's going to have a night,'" said Dunne of Welton's performance. "I watch him on a daily basis, and he can score in there. He could score with both shoulders, he's got his quick spin and they can't really cheat one way or the other."

The Peacocks actually gave their opponents a head start, trailing 7-0 through the first minute before Welton singlehandedly tied the score shortly before the first media timeout. Boston University (4-2) fought back to take a 14-11 lead, but immediately surrendered a 19-5 run that gave Saint Peter's the lead for good, a spurt that saw Welton on the bench for a significant portion of it as Dunne made sure not to overuse his dominating paint presence.

Trailing 35-31 at halftime, the Terriers drew within one possession after a layup from sophomore point guard Kyle Foreman; whose 20 points and five assists paced BU in both categories, made the score 58-55 with 9:04 remaining in regulation. But a 17-4 run triggered by a pair of Welton free throws and culminated by the resurgence of Trevis Wyche, who scored 13 of his 16 points after the intermission, put the game out of reach and allowed Saint Peter's to coast to their third victory, all by double digits and all with 80 or more points posted by a team not traditionally known for its offensive exploits.

"You play to your personnel," Dunne intimated, citing the arrival of three transfers who were not eligible last season; with one of whom, Nick Griffin, draining back-to-back three-pointers in the first half to tie and subsequently gave the Peacocks the lead. "We can go four-out, one (in) a lot of times, we've got guys that could put it in the basket. You look at our stat sheet and you look at a guy like Nnamdi Enechionyia, had zero points, but come Friday night, he could be 5-of-7. As long as we commit to playing unselfish basketball and staying low on turnovers, I think we'll be fine."

Antwon Portley supported the winning cause with 12 points, scored entirely in the second half, while Chazz Patterson added 11 of his own for Saint Peter's, who earned a valuable confidence boost before opening Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play against a pair of league titans in Iona and Manhattan.

"Obviously, you're more confident after a win," Dunne stated. "We've got to work really hard at just focusing on the next game, regardless of what just happened. We know the MAAC season is such a grind, but we have confidence. We know if we lock in defensively, we can do a really good job on that end of the floor. We have confidence, we should have confidence. At the end of the day, we're really looking forward to tipping it off on Friday."

Albany Cup: Quotes, Takeaways & Nuggets

By Norman Rose (@ECoastBias)

Consider each half of Albany's 81-72 win as two games; there is a decisive winner of both halves. The Siena Saints were blown out in the first half, but the Albany Great Danes' depth in the frontcourt was challenged in the second.

So while the score was close, Albany had Siena's number in a rivalry game that had more than a needed share of chirping from the coaches; it was the first time in 16 Albany Cup games that the contest was played at SEFCU Arena, a point of contention between the programs.

Albany won behind 29 points from guard David Nichols and 20 from Joe Cremo (18 in the second half); Mike Rowley added 10. Cremo had five assists and Nichols had four.

Siena was led by 18 from Marquis Wright, 16 from Nico Clareth, and 11 from Javion Ogunyemi and 10 from Lavon Long; who chipped in a team-leading eight rebounds and a team-leading four assists.

Siena and Albany traded shots early on, though the night's star David Nichols set the tone. From the first possession, even as Albany looked to be patient, Nichols flashed a speed with the ball in his hands that gave the Siena defenders fits. And on the other end, Albany worked to offset their size disadvantage by doubling and tripling Javion Ogunyemi of Siena.

"Offensively we executed the game plan to a T," Albany coach Will Brown said after improving to 4-2 on the season. "Defensively, we executed for 30 minutes."

"We fell behind early," said Siena's Jimmy Patsos after the game, where the Saints fell to 2-4, "and we just didn't handle it well. A lot of guys were a little out of sorts."

Siena's Nico Clareth and Lavon Long were on the court together for the first time this season, as both have served suspensions for violations of Athletic Department rules.

Patsos continued, "us playing our team together for the first time against one of the better mid major programs in the country [did not help]. That cost us. That and [David] Nichols being unbelievable."

So when Nico Clareth came in and the three-pointers stopped falling for Jimmy Patsos' Saints, and when the frustration turnovers started mounting, the Great Danes were already warmed up. Albany led by 18 points at the half, a half where the Saints had taken nearly 58% of their shots from outside the arc. The half also ended with three players with two fouls and two with three fouls for Siena.

But back to David Nichols...

Nichols was impressive, scoring a career-high 29 points, evenly distributed by half. In his 39 minutes, he continuously made tough shots and aggressively attacked in transition. Siena's transition defense twisted and turned to contain Nichols, but the long shots Siena took in the first half helped power Nichols' ability to attack the basket running.

Nichols spent most of last year glued to the bench, and did not play in last year's Albany Cup. So Patsos hadn't seen how good he has become.

"I knew [Nichols] was good, I watched tape," Patsos said. "He was quicker and more powerful in person. He made good pull ups. He was just tough. I thought we’d match him, but he outplayed [Kadeem Smithen and Khalil Richard]."

"I don't know how you can not know how good David is," Brown responded when told of [a paraphrased version of] Patsos' comments. "He puts that ball in the basket, he does it at a high rate, he's consistently. There’s a lot of film out there. David’s good."

"It doesn’t surprise me what David does because he puts in the time," said Albany's Joe Cremo. "Sitting behind Evan [Singletary] was tough last year and he could have complained, but he comes in to practice every day and works hard, he deserves everything that he gets."

Patsos picked up a technical foul as the Saints were mounting a furious comeback in the second half, raining down 52 points (at 1.60 points per possession) with Nico Clareth (16 points, all in the second half) getting hot.

Why the technical? In Patsos' words:

"Our senior player Brett Bisping drives in there and [gets called for the charge]. It’s a big play, his fourth foul in the game. I said 'Brian, you’re not supposed to call charges in [the charge circle]'. I turned around, took two steps, and I got a technical."

"Now, if there was a bad word slipped in there, my subconscious mind may have put that it in there and I might not know it. But the rule is that you can’t take a charge in there. And our guy got a charge called on him in that circle, and they’ve painted like six of them in there and they have 25 meetings a year on."

"They’re all really good refs. But we got fired up from it."

As for Siena, the veteran team needs to find itself. This team has the talent to compete for the MAAC championship, but has some flaws on the floor, in particular in terms of intensity/ team play.

"We’re gonna keep shooting threes," said Patsos about the team's shot selection, "and that’s on me as a coach. I thought some of our looks were good, I thought some of our looks we shouldn’t have taken. We have some soul searching to do and I wanted to play good teams to learn from it."

Marquis Wright, whose offense was the most consistent part of the Siena attack added, "we just didn’t come out with intensity from the beginning. We gotta come out from the beginning and be ready to play. We fought hard, but they were the better team tonight."

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Saint Peter's proves it can be force to be reckoned with in MAAC

John Dunne and his staff pause for a quick chat during Johnny Bach Classic at Fordham, where Peacocks won two of their three games last weekend. (Photo by Ray Floriani/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)

The turnaround time was fast. There was little time to agonize and look back on what had transpired.

Saint Peter’s had been beaten handily by Fordham on Saturday. The next afternoon, a meeting with Fairleigh Dickinson, to whom they lost a year ago, was on the horizon. There was concern on the part of head coach John Dunne on the quick turnaround.
A coach can scout, game plan and put the players in the best possible position to succeed. Other than that, one cannot be certain how well they will execute. In the third game of the Johnny Bach Classic at Fordham last weekend, Dunne was fortunate to witness an outstanding team performance. His Peacocks, after a close early going, broke open the contest to post an 84-58 victory over FDU. Five players were in double figures, with senior guard Trevis Wyche leading the way with 17 points.
The offensive explosion, coupled with owning the boards by a 40-21 margin, were reasons for optimism for Dunne. There was another area he chose to cite as the difference: Turnovers.

“We turned it over a lot on Saturday,” Dunne said. “Limiting turnovers is something we addressed coming into this game. We did a good job caring for the ball.” Against the Rams, Saint Peter’s was guilty of 26 miscues in a 63-41 loss. The FDU game saw the Peacocks commit just five turnovers for an outstanding nine percent turnover rate.
Not to be discounted was a perimeter game that saw Saint Peter’s hit ten of their 23 attempts from three-point range, a 44 percent rate. Good ball movement resulted in some great looks the Peacocks took to their advantage. “We have some skill guys,” Dunne said, “that can hit that outside shot.” Wyche hit 3-of-4 from deep. Antwon Portley started hot, but the percentages caught up. Regardless, his 3-of-7 from long range highlighted a 12-point outing.
Saint Peter’s is far from one dimensional. Quadir Welton, a 6-foot-7 senior, provides a strong inside presence. Welton scored 12 points with nine rebounds. He proved to be the proverbial ‘space eater,’ clogging the middle and cutting off any of FDU’s inside effectiveness.

“Quadir was second team all conference last year,” Dunne said. “He is a preseason all-conference pick this year and really provides for a strong presence inside.”
Dunne was relaxing outside the team locker room as we spoke. He fist bumped and commended each player as they sporadically filed out of the locker room. He spoke of the resiliency of this group. “Opening night, we led Lafayette and blew a comfortable lead late in the game,” Dunne noted. “We bounced back in a nice way to get two of three here. Today, we beat an FDU club that is talented and will have a good year.”
Dunne went on to discuss the MAAC. “The conference is strong,” he said. “Monmouth and Siena are at the top. After that, there is a group with Iona (whom the Peacocks entertain December 2) and Manhattan to name a few that can be heard from and make a run. I like to think we are in that group as well, but it is a very competitive conference.”
For Saint Peter’s, this was a performance Dunne would love to bottle. As noted, the uncertainty of coaching, how your team will respond, is the challenge.  However, it was evident the Peacocks have a number of options available, are far from an easy out, and are certainly a team to watch in the MAAC.

Preseason NIT: Ray Floriani's Photo Essay

BROOKLYN, NY - The day after Thanksgiving, a day known to us as ‘Black Friday.’

A day shoppers go in a state of delirium melting the fantastic plastic, credit cards that is, running up expenses to mirror the national debt. On this day, the NIT Preseason Tip-Off held its consolation and finals.
For the second straight year, the venue was Barclays Center in Brooklyn. An attractive locale in its own right, the move still bucks tradition. For years the NIT, pre- and postseason, has been synonymous with Madison Square Garden. Following the move to early rounds at campus sites, the ‘World’s Most Famous Arena’ still claimed home for the tournament final four. Tradition aside, there were two games on tap.
The recurring theme of these games on this pleasant afternoon was the ‘r’ word: Resolve, resilience. Florida State a day earlier blew a huge lead and a potential game-winner with seconds left. In the third-place game they fought off an early challenge to dispatch Illinois, leaving Brooklyn with a split.

The championship saw Temple build a 20-point halftime lead. West Virginia stormed back, taking a lead in the stretch. The Owls quickly regrouped, got the lead back and held on to claim the title. Fran Dunphy’s Temple team, the one that mastered the comeback a day ago, stopped another such rally by making the plays as those final seconds ticked away.

Another thrilling NIT finish. An 81-77 decision for Temple. Another chapter to the storied tournament. While the setting wasn’t the Garden, as West Virginia and Temple battled in that frenzied final half; for those special moments, the site was forgotten. The concentration on the 94-by-50-foot area where two worthy combatants gave us a game to remember.

Entertainment on the subway en route to Barclays Center:
A panoramic view as Florida State takes on Illinois:
The Williamsburg Pizza stand, perhaps out of dough at this particular time:
Temple coach Fran Dunphy studies the action as official Ed Corbett looks on:
Temple cheerleaders getting good instruction before a timeout:
Game action as Temple battles as West Virginia:
Obi Enechionyia with a free throw to ice it for Temple:
A victorious Temple team celebrates their NIT Preseason Tip-Off title:

Trimble's heroics carry Maryland to Barclays Center Classic championship

Maryland accepts Barclays Center Classic championship after Melo Trimble's go-ahead layup proves to be deciding factor in 69-68 victory over Kansas State. (Photo by CSN Mid Atlantic)

BROOKLYN -- Just a subway ride away Friday night, a man known simply as "Melo" to his legions of fans drained a game-winning shot for the New York Knicks.

No sooner than 24 hours later, in the home of the Big Apple's other NBA franchise, another Melo; this one in the college ranks, followed suit with heroics of his own.

The comparisons to Carmelo Anthony will probably end there for Melo Trimble, at least for the moment, but Maryland's junior guard was content with deciding the final outcome on a go-ahead layup with 6.6 seconds remaining in regulation as his Terrapins outlasted Kansas State to capture the Barclays Center Classic championship by the final of 69-68.

"Just don't settle," Trimble said of his mindset before recording the last of his 18 points and ultimately receiving Most Outstanding Player honors in the two-day event, which saw him tie a career-high with 31 points in Friday's overtime victory against Richmond. "I've been through that situation since I've been at Maryland. I just know the best decision, and when the game is like that, it's just 'go to the basket.'"

Trimble's dramatic crescendo was preceded by yet another determined rally from the All-America candidate just seconds before, when his penultimate bucket brought the Terps (6-0) within one of Kansas State with 20.1 seconds on the clock, throwing a major wrench into the Wildcats' second half comeback and bringing a largely pro-Maryland crowd to life for a thrilling climax of a seesaw battle.

Following Trimble's score to make it a 68-67 game, Kansas State (6-1) flirted with disaster, appearing to step on the baseline but playing on after the officials did not notice the apparent turnover. Maryland then fouled Wesley Iwundu, (16 points, 11 rebounds) only for the senior forward to miss the front end of a one-and-one, affording Trimble the opportunity to play the hero.

"We knew what was coming," said a dejected Bruce Weber of what turned out to be the game-winning basket. "He just gets a head of steam. He gets his body into you and draws fouls, makes plays. He's good at it."

Besides Trimble, Michal Cekovsky had a career night, and was quite instrumental in the Terps' efforts. The 7-foot-1 junior eclipsed personal bests with 16 points and eight rebounds in just 18 minutes of action, slowly emerging to be one of the more significant pieces in the winning cause as chants of "Ceko" filled the air midway through the second half.

"He's not even close to where he was before he got hurt," head coach Mark Turgeon said of Cekovsky's production. "He was hurt for about 10 weeks, but he's got fresh legs now."

The Wildcats still had a chance to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat after Trimble, who was fouled by D.J. Johnson; whose 26 points led all scorers, on his way to the basket. Although he missed the free throw, Barry Brown's three-point attempt for the win grazed the left side of the rim and bounced out, triggering a celebration on the Maryland end of the floor.

"We drew it up in the timeout," said Turgeon, describing the play that accounted for the sixth and final lead change of a game in which neither team led by more than nine points at any given time. "Everybody ran it to perfection. The only thing that was different was I thought we might be throwing it in off an inbounds instead off of a miss. When I saw Damonte (Dodd) set the perfect screen and perfect timing, I just knew he was going to do what he does."

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Richmond 67, Boston College 54: Tempo-Free Recap

BROOKLYN -- Trailing by 11 points late in the first half, Richmond clamped down on defense after the intermission, allowing just eight field goals over the final 20 minutes to improve to 4-2 on the season, defeating Boston College by the final of 67-54 in the consolation game of the Barclays Center Classic. Despite a game-high 27 points from Jerome Robinson, who connected on six of nine shots from beyond the arc, the Eagles could not overcome T.J. Cline (23 points, 10 rebounds) as the Spiders prevailed.

Points Per Possession:
Richmond: 1.00 (67 points in 67 possessions)
Boston College: 0.79 (54 points in 68 possessions)

Effective Field Goal Percentage
Richmond: .509
Boston College: .420

Free Throw Rate
Richmond: 27.8%
Boston College: 21.4%

Offensive Rebound Percentage
Richmond: 17.6
Boston College: 28.6

Turnover Rate
Richmond: 17.9%
Boston College: 23.5%

What Richmond did well: As is usually the case for Chris Mooney's teams, the Spiders got smarter with the basketball as the game went on. In addition to forcing Boston College into a 27 percent shooting effort from the floor in the second half, the Spiders maximized their Princeton-influenced offense, making 15 of their 26 field goal attempts and draining a trio of three-pointers in that stretch to register a .635 eFG percentage in the final stanza. Reducing their turnover number by half following the break turned what had been a 23.5 percent turnover rate in the opening frame into a more respectable 17.9 number for the night.

What Boston College did well: Get off to a hot start, riding the torrid shooting of Jerome Robinson to 19 of their 33 first-half points. While the sophomore will be a bright spot for Jim Christian this season, he will need to work on exploiting defenses for a full 40 minutes, as Richmond held him to just 3-of-12 from the field over the final stanza. The Eagles also won the battle of the boards, finishing with a plus-1 overall margin and a plus-4 mark on the offensive glass. 

South Carolina stuns No. 18 Syracuse at Barclays Center

By Jason Schott (@JESchott19)

South Carolina upset Syracuse, ranked 18th in the nation, 64-50, in the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational on Saturday at Barclays Center.

n the first half, South Carolina set the tone with stellar defense, as they held Syracuse to 35 percent shooting (8-23 from the field) and forced them to commit 11 turnovers.
PJ Dozier scored 11 points in the first half, and Sindarius Thornwell had 10 to lead South Carolina to a 37-26 lead at halftime.
In the second half, Syracuse went on a 10-2 run capped by an Andrew White III free throw, after he made a steal, that made it 42-38 South Carolina at the 14:39 mark.
South Carolina responded over the next minute, and a Duane Notice three made it 47-40.
Syracuse couldn't get the deficit under five points, as a three from White III made it 51-46 South Carolina with 6:34 left.Over the next five minutes, South Carolina's stifling defense returned, and they went on a 13-2 run capped by a Maik Kotsar layup that made it 64-48 at the 1:26 mark.
Over the next five minutes, South Carolina's stifling defense returned, and they went on a 13-2 run capped by a Maik Kotsar layup that made it 64-48 at the 
South Carolina head coach Frank Martin said of changing his approach to face Syracuse, "I went back and studied tape of the last game I ever coached at against Syracuse. i made a grave error because I tried to play behind the zone. I had never seen that game. When I watched it, I walked away thinking that they bait you to throw it in there. They want you to play behind it because they're so big. You can't throw those baseline diagonal passes because their guards are so big. I was watching that on the plane Wednesday night after the Michigan game. I slept on it and said I have to change what I did four and a half years ago. We needed to lift the zone. Rather than trying to play behind it, we needed to lift it. Once we lifted the zone, we looked for the cracks behind it so we had space to pass and shoot."
"Credit to our guys. Our guys were phenomenal. They listened, executed, and were in tune. We were a little careless in the second half, but we responded to their run. We pretty much kept them away from open court baskets. When you're playing Syracuse, they kill you with open court baskets."
Martin said of his team's defense, "I pride myself defensively. I want to play a certain way defensively. It's taken us four years to recruit a team that all the parts to play good defensively. Duane (Notice) and Sindarius (Thornwell) have guarded everybody. You name a player in the country; they've guarded them during their careers. They understand our system and are fearless in the moment."
PJ Dozier said of the South Carolina defense, "Every game we come out and guard. That's what our coaching staff and team prides itself on - defense. We make our offense out of our defense. We came into the game with a defensive mind."
Dozier said of beating Syracuse's zone defense, "It felt good. That was the gameplan. Coach told us to work the zone and get away from the one pass shot and get deep in the shot clock. We knew they would play a pretty tough zone. That's what they're known for. We were just trying to pick our spots and be able to get open shots."
Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said of the loss, "I thought South Carolina played great defense, the best defense that we have seen. Obviously, as good a defense as we've seen this year, but also as good a defense as we have seen in a long time. They were really, really good defensively. They started the game well. They moved the ball well. They made two tough threes right off the bat. From there, we were just working up hill.
"I thought in the second half we had a good run and got back in it, but we missed five straight free throws and missed layups. We can't do that. (South Carolina) is a very good basketball team. We have a long way to go. We have five new guys. They looked a bit lost out there today. We have some work ahead of us. These games tell you that.
"(South Carolina) moves the ball well, and they are going to get it in (the lane). This was an offensive game. This wasn't about our defense, this was about our offense."

Barclays Center Classic: K-State, Maryland win; will meet Saturday night

By Jason Schott (@JESchott19)

At the Barclays Center Classic on Friday night, Kansas State rolled to an easy win over Boston College, while Maryland beat Richmond in overtime.

Maryland will play Kansas State in the Barclays Center Classic championship game on Saturday night. The consolation game between Boston College and Richmond opens the night at 7 p.m.

Kansas State 72, Boston College 54
This game got off to a very slow start, as each time couldn't find a rhythm early.
After a first half in which Boston College shot just 29 percent (7-24) from the field and made 14 turnovers, and Kansas State shot just 35 percent (10-29), it was Kansas State that eked out a nine-point edge, 31-22, at halftime.
Kansas State pulled away in the second half, as Xavier Sneed put on a show.
Sneed had 10 of his team-leading 16 points in the second half, as his free throws gave them a 44-31 lead at the 13:20 mark, a three gave them a 17-point lead, 52-35, with 9:45 left, and another three made it 68-50 with 2:04 remaining. K-State led by as many as 21, at 72-51, with 1:14 left on a Wesley Iwundu dunk.
Sneed shot 5-9 from the field, including 2-6 on threes to notch the 16 points off the bench, along with two rebounds and an assist.
Dean Wade had 11 points on 5-8 from the field, including 1-2 from behind the arc, eight rebounds, and two assists. Barry Brown also had 11 points (2-8 FG, 1-4 threes, 6-8 FTs), with three assists. Kamau Stokes had eight points, six assists, and three rebounds.
Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber said of the game, "I thought it was a good win for us. Boston College has had their struggles, but Coach (Jim) Christian has done a nice job. Their guys are a year older. They are a much better team than they were a year ago. We were scared a little bit. (Jerome) Robinson is a good player. We have a couple of guys that can defend. I thought we took away some stuff. We stayed in some ball screens and made him a little frustrated. The defense and our bench were the keys to the first half. We had some foul trouble. Some guys that normally receive a lot of minutes came in and did a great job."
Weber said of playing at Barclays Center, "As a coach, you try to get venues to prepare your players for the future. This is a major NCAA tournament type venue. It is a special arena. It has a lot of personality to it. This is something you definitely want to take advantage of."
Kamau Stokes said of playing at Barclays, "It's a great experience. We've been home the whole season. This is our first road game. To play here is a great experience. We just have to treat it as another game. We can't get too excited because of the venue. It's New York. Everyone wants to play here. It's a great experience."
Maryland 88, Richmond 82 - Overtime
Maryland overcame a first half deficit to beat Richmond in what turned into a classic.
Richmond led by as many as 14 points in the first half, and led 38-26 at halftime.
In the second half, Maryland went on a 10-0 run capped by a Melo Trimble layup to cut Richmond's lead to one, at 43-42 at the 13:27 mark. A couple minutes later, a Trimble three-pointer tied it up at 50.
Maryland kept the momentum going, and they went up five, 57-52, on a Michal Cekovsky layup on a put-back with 8:01 emaining.
Richmond wasn't done, as a ShawnDre' Jones layup gave them a 65-60 edge with 3:21 left. 
Maryland stepped up the defense, and over the next couple minutes went up 67-65 on a Trimble three.
Richmond took a 70-69 lead on a T.J. Cline three with 32 seconds left, and Justin Jackson made it to the line for Maryland with 13 seconds left, and made one of two at the line to tie it at 70. That was the score heading into overtime.
Maryland opened up the overtime session on an 8-1 run capped by a Trimble three-point play at the 3:22 mark, and they outscored Richmond 18-12 in the period to earn the win.
Melo Trimble led Maryland with 31 points on 10-20 from the field, including 5-13 on three-pointers, four rebounds, an assist, and two steals. Anthony Cowan had 18 points on 5-9 from the field, 1-4 on threes, five rebounds, and four assists. Justin Jackson had 16 points on 4-13 shooting, 2-6 on threes, seven rebounds, and an assist.
Richmond was led by ShawnDre' Jones, who had 23 points on 8-17 shooting 2-5 from behind the arc, four assists, and a rebound. T.J. Cline had 18 points (7-20 FG, 1-8 threes), nine rebounds, and nine assists.