Monday, December 30, 2019

MAAC Monday: All-decade team, stat leaders, power rankings

By Jaden Daly (@jadendaly) and Vincent Simone (@VTSimone)

With two conference games having already been played and the return of league play beckoning this weekend, so too comes the reprisal of MAAC Monday for this, the 2019-20 college basketball season. For those unfamiliar with this weekly look at the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the opening segment traditionally revolves around a particular team that is thrust into the spotlight, followed by an updated set of league leaders, plus conference-wide power rankings as judged by Jaden and Vinny. However, as the dawn of a new decade appears ever so closer on the horizon, this year's curtain-raiser will be the announcement of the best players to come through the MAAC over the past ten seasons, as Jaden and Vinny have selected their all-decade MAAC team.


Criteria: All players and coaches must have competed in at least two MAAC seasons between 2010-11 and 2019-20 in order to gain eligibility

Initially, this list was going to be comprised of twelve players and four coaches, but after heavy deliberation, the list of players was expanded to fifteen. Before we go any further, here are the honorable mentions that were discussed, but ultimately did not make the cut. All honorable mentions are listed in alphabetical order by school and name:

Canisius: Jermaine Crumpton
Fairfield: Derek Needham
Iona: E.J. Crawford, Mike Glover, associate head coach Jared Grasso, Momo Jones, Jordan Washington
Loyola Maryland: Dylon Cormier, Erik Etherly
Manhattan: Emmy Andujar, Shane Richards
Marist: Khallid Hart, Brian Parker
Monmouth: Head coach King Rice, Micah Seaborn
Niagara: Kahlil Dukes, Juan'ya Green, Antoine Mason, Marvin Prochet
Quinnipiac: Ousmane Drame, Zaid Hearst
Rider: Stevie Jordan, Daniel Stewart
Saint Peter's: Marvin Dominique, Desi Washington
Siena: Brett Bisping, Lavon Long, Javion Ogunyemi, Jalen Pickett, Rob Poole

PLAYERS (in alphabetical order)

O.D. Anosike, Siena (2009-2013)
The Staten Island native was one constant for Siena while Mitch Buonaguro failed to live up to Fran McCaffery's overwhelming success, leading the nation in rebounding in both his junior and senior seasons, averaging 12.5 boards per game as a junior in 2011-12 and 11.4 caroms in 2012-13, solidifying himself alongside Ryan Rossiter as the foundation of the Saints' front line.

Sean Armand, Iona (2010-2014)
Among the first batch of Tim Cluess and Jared Grasso recruits to change the culture in New Rochelle, Armand worked his way from unheralded prospect to sixth man to superstar guard on his way to carving out a successful professional career overseas. His ten three-point field goals at Madison Square Garden against Siena in 2012 was merely the beginning for the sharpshooter becoming a household name for years to come.

Billy Baron, Canisius (2012-2014)
Very few transfers into the MAAC have left behind them the legacy of transforming a program into a perennial contender the way Baron did at Canisius when he came to Buffalo after his father, Jim, replaced Tom Parrotta as head coach in 2012. A Player of the Year as a senior, averaging 24.1 points per game in the process, Baron set the standard for dominant point guards in the conference, a bar that was exceeded by two other players on this list.

George Beamon, Manhattan (2009-2014)
The most prolific offensive weapon in Steve Masiello's arsenal, Beamon demonstrated a knack for scoring and rebounding like few players his size, stretching the floor and causing matchup problems for taller players despite his 6-foot-4 frame. One particular outburst stands out when recalling Beamon's explosive scoring prowess, his 31-point virtuoso performance against Monmouth in 2016, one in which he scored 24 points in the first half and left no doubt as to his potential.

Rhamel Brown, Manhattan (2010-2014)
Three times the MAAC's Defensive Player of the Year, Brown was the centerpiece behind Manhattan's interior defense and galvanized the Jaspers en route to a conference championship and near-upset of Louisville in the NCAA Tournament his senior year. No further was Brown's legacy felt than when Masiello compared Rich Williams to his former high school teammate for his leadership in timeouts four years later.

A.J. English, Iona (2012-2016, photo by Vincent Simone/Daly Dose Of Hoops)
When A.J. English returned from a broken hand that cost him the second half of his freshman year, hardly anyone could have expected him to become the next great Iona legend, but the blend of dynamic scorer and floor general took matters into his own hands over his final three seasons. Highlighted by a 46-point magnum opus against Fairfield in 2015, English's unmatched combination of fierce competitor and selfless, humble teammate lifted the Gaels to new heights, even if he was just simply playing Iona basketball.

David Laury, Iona (2012-2015)
Well-traveled before even landing in New Rochelle, Laury was a different breed for Tim Cluess over his three years in maroon and gold: A big man who ran the floor like a point guard, instincts that never went away after a late growth spurt. One of three Gaels to win MAAC Player of the Year honors this decade, Laury's near-automatic double-double in every game as a senior propelled Iona to a second straight regular season conference championship.

Chavaughn Lewis, Marist (2011-2015)
Marist's all-time leading scorer, Lewis could always be counted on for a basket as the Red Foxes found their way through the woods under three different coaches during the swingman's four years in Poughkeepsie. His three-quarter-court shot at the buzzer to send Iona into a second overtime in a 105-104 Marist win remains his signature moment.

Scott Machado, Iona (2008-2012)
Perhaps the best pure passer the MAAC has ever seen, Machado blossomed when he was reunited with Tim Cluess, who coached him in high school when the Queens native starred at St. Mary in Manhasset. Averaging a double-double with points and assists per game as a senior, Machado turned in just the second triple-double in Iona history in 2012, when he registered 10 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists against Marist en route to Player of th Year honors.

Rickey McGill, Iona (2015-2019, photo by Bob Dea/Daly Dose Of Hoops)
Rickey McGill's story has been told many times before: Seldom played as a freshman, advised to transfer because he wasn't performing to the level required at his program, only to be the hardest-working player in the conference by the time he exited his final game, against North Carolina last March. By the way, McGill just happens to be the only player in MAAC history to win four conference championships, and his drive to better himself now becomes a positive example for all young players to follow.

Tyler Nelson, Fairfield (2014-18)
Nelson's destiny was apparent the moment Martin Bahar recruited him to the Stags' campus, and Sydney Johnson brought out the best in his Massachusetts product, turning him from lethal marksman into Fairfield's all-time leading scorer. At the same time, Nelson spearheaded the change in identity from a methodical, deliberate offense into the Running Stags approach that brought he and his team to the precipice of a MAAC championship in a final game remembered for his prolonged and heartfelt embrace with Johnson in its final minutes.

Justin Robinson, Monmouth (2013-2017, photo by Vincent Simone/Daly Dose Of Hoops)
When talking about the best of the MAAC this decade, Justin Robinson should either be the first or second name mentioned, depending on how frequently you saw him work. The first player in 13 years to capture back-to-back MAAC Player of the Year awards, the 5-foot-8 Robinson matched his outsized personality and selfless nature off the court with an effortless attacking style on it, earning himself a place in both the hearts of Monmouth fans and the annals of mid-major college basketball over an unforgettable career.

Matt Scott, Niagara (2014-2018)
Quite possibly the MAAC's most underappreciated player, Scott never truly got his due during a career on Monteagle Ridge where the Brooklyn guard averaged seven rebounds per game in each of his last three seasons. Sadly, an ankle injury at the end of his senior season compromised a potential championship run for Niagara in the 2018 MAAC tournament, but Scott's impact was still felt on a Purple Eagle program still searching for a player of his caliber under current head coach Greg Paulus.

Marquis Wright, Siena (2014-2018)
Jimmy Patsos' first recruit to the Capital Region, following his coach from Loyola to Siena, Wright became a four-year warrior and a 1,000-point scorer as the Saints returned to the top half of the MAAC during his time at the point. Alongside Brett Bisping, Lavon Long and Javion Ogunyemi, Wright was a scorer and passer rivaled by a select few in the MAAC, and played a major role in Siena reaching a conference championship game in 2017.

Cameron Young, Quinnipiac (2016-2019)
Recruited by Tom Moore and developed under Baker Dunleavy, Young's meteoric rise from rotation piece to leading scorer and MAAC Player of the Year accelerated Quinnipiac's climb up the conference ladder. A record-breaking wing who scored 55 points in a game against Siena last season, Young solidified the Bobcats as a major player in the MAAC once again after the program's first two years in the conference yielded similar promise.


Tim Cluess, Iona (2010-present, photo by Bob Dea/Daly Dose Of Hoops)
When one of the coaches in the MAAC is responsible for five conference tournament championships, six NCAA Tournament appearances, eight 20-win seasons, and nine postseason appearances in as many years, it goes without saying that he is the first name on the list for all-decade coaches. So it is for Cluess, whose transition from Division II LIU Post to New Rochelle as Kevin Willard's successor in 2010 was smooth and seamless, building the MAAC's third true dynasty, joining the La Salle teams of the early 1990s and Fran McCaffery's late-2000s Siena outfits. Iona becoming the first school in MAAC history to win four consecutive conference tournaments is just the latest bullet on a resume that gets richer with each passing year.

Steve Masiello, Manhattan (2011-present, photo by Bob Dea/Daly Dose Of Hoops)
After Tim Cluess, Masiello is clearly next in line in terms of success over this decade, having guided Manhattan to a pair of MAAC championships in 2013-14 and 2014-15, the first for the Jaspers since 2004, when Masiello was an assistant under Bobby Gonzalez. With two 20-win seasons in his first three years at the helm, and a record of 79-53 after bringing the second of the two aforementioned conference titles to Riverdale, Masiello set the tone for Manhattan's matchup zone and pressure defense to become one of the more recognizable brands among MAAC programs.

John Dunne (Saint Peter's, 2006-18; Marist, 2018-present, photo by Bob Dea/Daly Dose Of Hoops)
At the end of the day, despite a sub-.500 record, Dunne does have a pair of testimonials on his ledger: Saint Peter's 2011 MAAC tournament championship and the Peacocks' victory in the 2017 Postseason Tournament. Dunne also possessed the innate ability to continuously get the most out of a roster judged to rank among the least during his years in Jersey City, and his first year-and-a-half at Marist suggests similar results are on the way, even in the face of a considerable rebuild this season. For that, and his steady presence in a changing conference landscape, he gets recognized here.

Jimmy Patsos (Loyola Maryland, 2004-2013; Siena, 2013-2018, photo by Vincent Simone/Daly Dose Of Hoops)
The only coach this decade to cut down nets for two different schools, Patsos won a MAAC tournament in 2012 at Loyola, then directed Siena to a College Basketball Invitational crown two years later upon replacing Mitch Buonaguro at the helm of the Saints. Say what you want about Patsos' theatrics and entertaining press conferences, but the former Gary Williams assistant corroborated his vast knowledge off the court with a style of basketball that was responsible for cultivating four 1,000-point scorers in his next-to-last senior class at Siena, as well as a full-scale turnaround at Loyola from one-win team to championship unit.

Scoring Leaders
1) Rich Kelly, Quinnipiac (17.1 PPG)
2) Jalen Pickett, Siena (16.8)

3) E.J. Crawford, Iona (16.1)
4) Elijah Burns, Siena (16.1)
5) Tajuan Agee, Iona (16.0)
6) Landon Taliaferro, Fairfield (15.9)
7) Tyere Marshall, Rider (15.7)
8) Deion Hammond, Monmouth (15.6)
9) Frederick Scott, Rider (14.9)
10) James Towns, Niagara (14.7)

Rebounding Leaders
1) Kevin Marfo, Quinnipiac (13.5 RPG)
2) Manny Camper, Siena (11.6)
3) Tyere Marshall, Rider (10.6)
4) Tajuan Agee, Iona (8.3)
5) Frederick Scott, Rider (6.7)
6) Dimencio Vaughn, Rider (6.6)
7) Mustapha Traore, Monmouth (6.5)
8) Tykei Greene, Manhattan (6.4)
T-9) Elijah Burns, Siena (6.0)
T-9) Pauly Paulicap, Manhattan (6.0)

Assist Leaders
1) Malik Johnson, Canisius (5.5 APG)
2) Stevie Jordan, Rider (4.9)
3) Rich Kelly, Quinnipiac (4.4)
4) Jalen Pickett, Siena (4.1)
5) Asante Gist, Iona (3.4)
6) Isaiah Washington, Iona (3.3)
7) Marcus Hammond, Niagara (3.3)
8) Samuel Chaput, Monmouth (3.2)
9) Ray Salnave, Monmouth (3.1)
10) Taj Benning, Fairfield (3.0)

Field Goal Percentage Leaders
1) Tyere Marshall, Rider (.608)
2) Elijah Burns, Siena (.596)
3) Tajuan Agee, Iona (.550)
4) Jalanni White, Canisius (.548)
5) Greg Kuakumensah, Niagara (.519)
6) Manny Camper, Siena (.500)
7) Frederick Scott, Rider (.480)
8) James Towns, Niagara (.467)
9) Raheem Solomon, Niagara (.466)
10) Pauly Paulicap, Manhattan (.466)

Free Throw Percentage Leaders
1) Donald Carey, Siena (.895)
2) Isaiah Ross, Iona (.875)
3) James Towns, Niagara (.849)
T-4) Taj Benning, Fairfield (.846)
T-4) Ray Salnave, Monmouth (.846)
6) E.J. Crawford, Iona (.824)
7) Stevie Jordan, Rider (.813)
8) Elijah Burns, Siena (.792)
9) Tajuan Agee, Iona (.778)
10) Kevin Marfo, Quinnipiac (.774)

Three-Point Field Goal Percentage Leaders
1) Doug Edert, Saint Peter's (.512)
2) Matthew Lee, Saint Peter's (.481)
3) Ray Salnave, Monmouth (.477)
4) Landon Taliaferro, Fairfield (.440)
5) Rich Kelly, Quinnipiac (.424)
6) Frederick Scott, Rider (.414)
7) Jacob Rigoni, Quinnipiac (.403)
8) Matt Herasme, Marist (.400)
9) Tyler Sagl, Marist (.390)
10) Matt Balanc, Quinnipiac (.389)

Steal Leaders
1) Malik Johnson, Canisius (2.7 SPG)
2) Stevie Jordan, Rider (2.3)
3) Isaiah Washington, Iona (2.0)
4) Samir Stewart, Manhattan (1.9)
5) Ray Salnave, Monmouth (1.7)

Blocked Shot Leaders
1) KC Ndefo, Saint Peter's (2.4 BPG)
2) Pauly Paulicap, Manhattan (1.6)

3) Tajuan Agee, Iona (1.6)
4) Seth Pinkney, Quinnipiac (1.3)
5) Jalen Pickett, Siena (1.2)

Power Rankings
1) Rider (7-3, 1-0 MAAC)
Last Game:
 Saturday 12/21 at Temple (L 78-66)

Next Game: Tuesday 12/31 at Wisconsin, 7 p.m.

2) Siena (5-5, 1-0 MAAC)
Last Game: Sunday 12/29 vs. Holy Cross (W 74-62)
Next Game: Friday 1/3 vs. Monmouth, 7 p.m.

3) Monmouth (6-5)
Last Game: Saturday 12/21 vs. Albany (W 72-70)
Next Game: Friday 1/3 at Siena, 7 p.m.

4) Quinnipiac (5-5)
Last Game:
Saturday 12/21 vs. Bowling Green (W 69-64)

Next Game: Friday 1/3 at Marist, 7 p.m.

5) Fairfield (4-7)
Last Game: Saturday 12/28 at Wagner (W 66-54)
Next Game: Friday 1/3 at Niagara, 7 p.m.

T-6) Manhattan (4-5)
Last Game: Sunday 12/22 at Hofstra (L 63-51)
Next Game: Friday 1/3 at Canisius, 7 p.m.

T-6) Canisius (5-6, 0-1 MAAC)
Last Game: Monday 12/23 at Siena (L 73-72)
Next Game: Monday 12/30 at Pitt, 12 p.m.

8) Iona (2-5)
Last Game: Sunday 12/29 at Colorado (L 99-54)
Next Game: Friday 1/3 vs. Saint Peter's, 7 p.m.

T-9) Saint Peter's (3-6)
Last Game: Saturday 12/28 vs. Hampton (L 70-67)
Next Game: Friday 1/3 at Iona, 7 p.m.

T-9) Niagara (2-9)
Last Game: Saturday 12/28 at Syracuse (L 71-57)
Next Game: Friday 1/3 vs. Fairfield, 7 p.m.

11) Marist (1-9, 0-1 MAAC)
Last Game: Saturday 12/28 at Columbia (L 69-54)
Next Game: Friday 1/3 vs. Quinnipiac, 7 p.m.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Marist vs. Columbia Photo Gallery

Photos from Marist’s 69-54 loss to Columbia on December 28, 2019:

(All photos by Bob Dea/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

Monday, December 23, 2019

Seton Hall vs. Prairie View A&M Photo Gallery

Photos from Seton Hall’s 75-55 win over Prairie View A&M on December 22, 2019:

(All photos by Bob Dea/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

Sunday, December 22, 2019

JP’s 5 Thoughts: Seton Hall tops Prairie View A&M

Quincy McKnight’s 25 points led Seton Hall as Pirates defeated Prairie View A&M. (Photo by Bob Dea/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

By Jason Guerette (@JPGuerette)

NEWARK, N.J. — The Seton Hall Pirates picked up their second straight win on Sunday at Prudential Center, overcoming a slow start to roll over Prairie View A&M, 75-55, and improve to 8-4 on the season.

The Pirates used a 21-2 run in the second half over seven-and-a-half minutes to pull away from the Panthers and notch the win in their final tuneup before Big East Conference play.

Quincy McKnight led Seton Hall with a season-high 25 points, while Anthony Nelson added 12 points and seven assists. Jared Rhoden also chipped in 12 points and eight rebounds, while freshman Tyrese Samuel finished with 12 points and seven rebounds off the bench.

Here are the thoughts:

1. Tale Of Two Halves

With Seton Hall coming off an upset victory over No. 7 Maryland in Newark on Thursday, the first half was sloppy for the Pirates and Panthers, with the teams combining to shoot 34 percent (18-for-53) from the floor, along with 22 turnovers. But the Panthers had a 27-22 lead, thanks to a 10-5 edge in points off turnovers (despite both teams committing 11 in the half), as well as a plus-six margin on the glass, including nine offensive rebounds that led to nine second chance points.

But the Pirates turned it around in the second stanza, shooting 58 percent, turning the ball over just five times, and outrebounding the undersized Panthers by 10 en route to outscoring the visitors 53-28 after halftime. It shifted the atmosphere at the Rock from audible groans to relieved cheers by the end of the game.

2. Nelson On The Nice List

Prairie View came in averaging 17.4 turnovers forced per game and with 100 total steals, both of which ranked inside the Top 40 in the nation. Seton Hall initially did a good job of taking care of the ball in the first half, but faltered down the stretch into the half, allowing the Panthers to make their run. The Pirates came out of the break, and turned the ball over just once in the first 12 minutes in the second half. 

The difference? Anthony Nelson.

"Anthony Nelson kind of woke up and took control a little bit," head coach Kevin Willard said. "For him, it's his first time playing back-to-back (games of) 36 minutes, and it took him a little time to get going, but once Ant got going, he was able to get (Quincy) involved a little bit, and I think that was the biggest difference."

3. Samuel Steps Out

As good as Romaro Gill and Ike Obiagu were in the Maryland game, they just weren't as effective in this contest, likely due to the fact that the Panthers really didn't have any size where they could match up effectively. Enter Tyrese Samuel, who posted season-highs in points and rebounds, while also hitting the Pirates' only two three-pointers of the game and providing the highlight of the contest with a one-handed putback slam late in the second half.

"He's doing exactly what you hope talented freshmen do," Willard said. "And that's that they stay patient and keep working. He's going to continue to get better and better, and we're going to need him with all of the physicality that we're going to see (in the Big East)."

While McKnight and Nelson flourished down the stretch outside, it was Samuel and also Jared Rhoden who allowed the Pirates to pull away thanks to their production on both ends inside.

4. Powell Update- "Improving"

Maybe the most-encouraging thing to happen in this game was that Myles Powell was well enough to be on the Pirates' bench. He had missed the Maryland game due to needing to stay away from bright lights and loud noises in his recovery process from his concussion. 

"He just entered the concussion protocol the other day," Willard said. "I don't know what that is, it's too technical for me, but he's progressing. There's a shot he could play at DePaul, but it's a long shot, I still don't think that right now is a possibility. We're hoping to get him back to practice after this break, and then kind of work him in maybe for the Georgetown game. That's a realistic goal."

No two concussions are the same, and as we said before, you can't rush the recovery, so seeing Powell able to rejoin the team today is a definite positive sign, and about the best early Christmas present Pirate fans could have asked for.

5. Next Up: The Big East

The Pirates concluded their non-conference schedule with an 8-4 record, and considering the teams they've played, the injuries to their two best players, and all the travel they've had to do in what was without a doubt the toughest slate they've faced out of conference play since Willard took the job, you have to feel pretty good about it if you're a Pirate fan.

"My goal was 9-3," Willard commented. "I thought that was realistic with the amount of road games we had to play. We played three true road games, three neutral games...we've played the second-hardest schedule besides Kansas according to Kenpom (in the) Power 6. The Saint Louis win, I think, gets better and better as the days go on.”

"And to handle the injuries, when they happened so early in each game and on the road, we didn't handle them overly well at that time," he added. "Since then, we've had time to practice and come back. I'm really proud of where we are and the position going forward."

The Big East is no joke this year — Willard says it every year — but this season, we've seen DePaul rise up from the ashes a little bit, and each team in the conference having some good moments, capped off by a remarkable 11-0 combined finish league-wide to non-conference play. 

Buckle up, everyone: The true season is just about to begin.

Happy Holidays from all of us at Daly Dose of Hoops!

Kevin Willard quote book: Prairie View A&M

By Jaden Daly (@jadendaly) and Jason Guerette (@JPGuerette)

On difference in the second half:
“Prairie View, when I watched them, I knew was going to be a dogfight. They’ve got good players and they play really hard. Coming off an emotional win the other night, I was worried — because we’re not shooting the basketball great — that if we started missing shots early, which we did — we just kind of got a little deflated, but I thought Tyrese, in the second half, kind of coming in and giving us a good energy spark was a big difference.”

On the Big East’s overall strength:
“I think the greatest thing about it is the fact that every night, they have a chance to get a big win. There were times where there was pressure that you didn’t get a bad loss, and now, you have an opportunity — everybody, one through ten, has an opportunity — to get a huge win. There’s no letdown. I knew it was going to be really good, but I think the way Butler’s playing, how good St. John’s and DePaul are playing, those are the three best teams. You look at what they’ve done and how they’re playing, it’s an opportunity every night. I think everyone’s going to have an opportunity to get a big win.”

On how Seton Hall handled non-conference play:
“My goal was 9-3, that was my goal. I thought that was realistic with the amount of road games we’ve had to play — and we’ve played three true road games, three neutral games. We’ve played the second-hardest schedule besides Kansas, according to KenPom, out of the power six. When you play the second-hardest schedule and you play three true road games — I mean, the Saint Louis win is, I think, gets better and better as the days go on — and then to handle the injury situation, I think the hardest part about that injury situation was the fact that they happened so early in each game and on the road. We didn’t handle those injuries overly well at that time, but I think the fact that we’ve had some time to come back and practice, I’m really proud of where we are, what kind of position we are going forward.”

On ball control in the second half:
“I just think Anthony Nelson kind of woke up and took control a little bit, was a little bit more aggressive. And again, for him, it’s his first time he’s had to go back-to-back 36 minutes. I think it took him a little time to get going, but I think once Ant got going, was able to get Q involved a little bit, I think that was the biggest difference.”

On Tyrese Samuel:
“I put Ty at the five spot, just because Ro and Ike, against teams like this, really struggle, it’s just harder. He’s just doing exactly what you hope talented freshmen do, is they stay patient and they keep working, and he’s going to continue to get better and better. And we’re going to need him with the amount of physicality that we’re going to see, knowing DePaul, Xavier, those type of teams.”

On Myles Powell and having him on the bench:
“It was terrible! I want him on the floor! He’s doing great, he just started the concussion protocol the other day. I don’t know what that is, I have no idea, it’s way more technical, but he’s progressing. There’s a shot that he could play at DePaul, but it’s a long shot. I still don’t think that, right now, that’s a possibility. We’re hoping to get him back to practice after this break, and then kind of work him hopefully for the Georgetown game. I think that’s a realistic goal right now.”

Hofstra pulls away from Manhattan late for third straight win

Eli Pemberton paced Hofstra with 19 points as Pride defeated Manhattan Sunday for ninth win of season in non-conference finale. (Photo by Vincent Simone/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — Since arriving at Hofstra in 2013, Joe Mihalich has frequently stated the main objective of his team’s non-conference schedule is to sharpen its teeth for league play.

Following a November win at UCLA, it seemed as though Hofstra’s palate may have reached a crescendo of sorts, but as it turned out, it was just an appetizer in the grand buffet the Pride navigated before beginning its Colonial Athletic Association season, which commences this Thursday.

A joint effort started by Eli Pemberton and finished by Desure Buie, with a double-double thrown in for good measure by Isaac Kante (14 points, 11 rebounds), was all that was needed on Long Island Sunday afternoon, as Hofstra overcame a determined Manhattan team by scoring 12 of the final 16 points in a resilient 63-51 victory at the Mack Sports Complex.

“We found a way to win,” Mihalich remarked as the Pride (9-4) concluded the non-conference season with its third straight victory following a decisive loss at St. Bonaventure. “There weren’t a whole lot of shining moments offensively, but we grinded it out defensively and did a great job at the other end.”

“I feel like this game was just on the defensive end,” said Pemberton, who set the tone for the hosts with 14 of his 19 points coming in the first half. “We had to take care of business. We knew they were aggressive going to the offensive glass and we’ve got a heck of a big, so I feel like we just covered everything across the board.”

Playing against Manhattan (4-5) for the first time since a commanding 30-point win at Draddy Gymnasium last December, Hofstra traded baskets with the Jaspers in the opening minutes and matched the defensive tempo dictated by the visitors through the first portion of the opening stanza before a Pemberton three kick-started an 11-0 run that put the Pride ahead for good. Manhattan stopped the bleeding momentarily on a three from Tykei Greene, whose 25 points were a career-high for the sophomore, but Hofstra responded with a 10-2 spurt to go into the intermission up 12 points, capped off by a buzzer-beating triple from Stafford Trueheart, who picked up where he left off Thursday against Princeton and helped shift the momentum on the way into the locker room.

“That was big,” Steve Masiello conceded. “That’s just us not being engaged in making a play. We’ve got to know time and score, situations like that. They went to a small lineup with Stafford at the five, and our five, Warren (Williams), has to know that he’s probably going to pull that. We’ve just got to be a little more sharper in that situation.”

The Jaspers pulled within four early in the second half after a Christian Hinckson three with 13:50 to play made the score 41-37, but two minutes later, after a Tareq Coburn free throw added one point to the Hofstra advantage, Buie — who matched Pemberton on the scoreboard with 19 markers — picked off a Williams pass and buried it from beyond the arc, igniting a stretch of nine unanswered points to effectively put the game away and prove that the CAA’s preseason favorite was ready to tackle its 18-game league slate head-on.

“We’re ready for league play,” Mihalich declared. “It wasn’t all a bed of roses, this non-conference schedule, but we’ve had some incredible moments. We’re 9-4, and I can say this, too: When we left Bucknell, we were 1-2, we were all lower than the snake’s belly. We’re ready for league play. Our league is the best league in the country nobody knows about. Every team is good, we start out with five out of seven on the road for the second time in three years, but we’re ready for that. We’re far from a finished product, but this is a pretty good team.”

LIU vs. Delaware Photo Gallery

Photos from LIU’s 82-75 overtime win over Delaware on December 20, 2019:

(All photos by Bob Dea/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

Friday, December 20, 2019

Seton Hall vs. Maryland Photo Gallery

Photos from Seton Hall’s 52-48 win over Maryland on December 19, 2019:

(All photos by Bob Dea/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

This time, Pirates’ latest program-defining win resonates just a little more

Romaro Gill (35) blocks Maryland’s Jalen Smith for one of Seton Hall’s 15 rejections as Pirates stunned seventh-ranked Terps Thursday night. (Photo by Bob Dea/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

NEWARK, N.J. — The story has been repeated so many times in Kevin Willard’s decade-long reign at Seton Hall.

Team with its proverbial back against the wall, sometimes missing a key player, maybe two, maybe even asked to do something it had not done before, matches up against program with Top 10 ranking. Fans and pundits alike predict worst-case scenario, only for said underdog team to rise up and score massive upset.

That tale has come to define Seton Hall over the years, for better or worse. So many of the Pirates’ memorable victories — take your pick of any during Isaiah Whitehead’s transcendent run to a Big East championship, or maybe last year's epic takedown of Kentucky — have come when the chips were down in and around South Orange, bringing the Big East’s ultimate blue-collar team together to rally for and with one another to produce a heart-stopping instant classic.

So it was again Thursday night, when Seton Hall welcomed a seventh-ranked Maryland team into the Garden State to complete the back end of a two-year series the Pirates opened last December with a resilient — and resonant — victory in College Park. Unlike last year, though, the manner in which The Hall pulled out this latest rabbit from its hat was one that was unexpected by almost any of the 13,000-plus patrons that played a deciding factor in Maryland suffering a second consecutive eyebrow-raising defeat.

It wasn’t so much the workmanlike, defense-oriented tenor of the Pirates’ 52-48 triumph over the Terrapins that commanded everyone’s attention, but rather the circumstances surrounding the game and the willingness to fix the mistakes of the past week by reinventing the team’s identity. Playing without Myles Powell after his concussion suffered against Rutgers, and Sandro Mamukelashvili as he continues to recuperate from a broken wrist indeed handicaps Seton Hall offensively, and admittedly does make things more challenging, but if there is one thing to learn about any of Willard’s teams over the years, it is that this bunch — no matter the names and faces — does not take no for an answer, never has, and most likely never will.

“It shows everybody,” Quincy McKnight — now thrust into the role of alpha dog offensively in Powell’s absence — said of the significance of the latest name-brand win collected by the Pirates. “There’s been a doubt with us since we lost to Iowa State (December 8), there’s been a doubt losing Sandro, losing Myles. There’s been a little doubt, and we proved to everybody that we can still play.”

“We did a lot of soul searching these past four days, and this is a big program win right here. We’re out an All-American and we’re out our starting power forward in Sandro, and when we’re down two players like that, it’s tough. But we dug down and got a good program win.”

There were no players-only meetings this time around, no outside distractions, no off-the-court drama between Saturday's 20-point loss to Rutgers and Thursday night. It was all business, and an uncharacteristically long pregame film session after three days of intense practices confirmed the shift in mantra.

“We came back Monday and we literally watched the first half for an hour and a half,” McKnight recalled. “It was a gut check, simple as that. Everybody came back and we practiced hard. We’ve just basically been getting after it.”

It was that gauntlet of sorts, in fact, that prompted Seton Hall’s coach to reaffirm his own vote of confidence in a team predicted to be the Big East favorite before the ball was even tipped for the first time last month, citing the toughness he once questioned in his core group several years ago.

“I was looking to see how they were going to bounce back,” said Willard. “They were honest in the film — we all talked about things that were going on in the film — and then we had three days of our best practice we’ve had all year.”

Not only did the Pirates bring the behind-closed-doors intensity out for the public to see, the supporting cast was unfazed by the number next to the visitors’ name, nor did it cower in the absence of its Batman and primary Robin. From McKnight playing off the ball and underscoring Anthony Nelson’s burgeoning prowess as a facilitator, to Romaro Gill and Ike Obiagu combining to block a dozen shots — Seton Hall registered 15 rejections as a team — to Jared Rhoden channeling Angel Delgado and Michael Nzei with a nose for the basketball, Seton Hall cared not about what was at stake, it simply cared about getting the job done, regardless of cost.

“They proved to me that they weren’t going to hang their heads, they weren’t going to worry about anything,” Willard proudly assessed. “And they showed up and played great defensively.”

And the beat goes on for the boys in blue, who will get a brief respite before Sunday’s encounter with Prairie View A&M, the final tuneup before Big East play opens at DePaul eight days later. But for whomever lies ahead, the objective remains the same for the Pirates, a group that has taken an adverse situation and turned it into a positive, carrying an all-for-one and one-for-all approach to navigating the choppy waters separating Seton Hall from Powell and Mamukelashvili returning to finish the job.

“We all knew that we needed each other to win tonight,” Rhoden reiterated. “A lot of people were doubting us, a lot of people were saying our season’s going down the wrong way. I just feel like this win stamped us and showed us what we’re made of, and showed what Seton Hall is all about.”

Thursday, December 19, 2019

JP’s 5 Thoughts: Shorthanded Seton Hall pulls upset over Maryland

Quincy McKnight exults after second-half dunk as Seton Hall upset No. 7 Maryland. (Photo by Bob Dea/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

By Jason Guerette (@JPGuerette)

NEWARK, N.J. — To say I didn't see this one coming would be quite an understatement.

Without its two best players, All-American guard Myles Powell (concussion) and versatile big man Sandro Mamukelashvili (fractured wrist), Seton Hall used exceptional defense, punctuated by a virtuoso shot-blocking performance inside, to stifle the seventh-ranked Maryland Terrapins and sweep the home-and-home series with a 52-48 victory at Prudential Center on a frigid Thursday night.

Here are the Thoughts from a truly impressive Pirate win, one of the best in the Kevin Willard era in this scribe's opinion:

1. Frost- 'D' the Snowman

There is no replacing the offensive production of Powell or Mamukelashvili. Seton Hall just does not have the horses to hang with teams into the 70-point range as long as those two are out. So what do you do against a team with Anthony Cowan, Jalen Smith, etc?

You defend your rear end off, and that's what the Pirates did. 

Seton Hall came in focused and intense on that side of the ball, and ended up slowly, but surely, building a lead that was 15 points at its greatest late in the first half. The Pirates held the Terps without a single point for over eight minutes in the first stanza, and without a single field goal for over ten minutes in a truly inspired performance. It was an effort that was born out of the last few days, as it turned out.

"I didn't know if we could win because we were going to struggle to score sometimes, but I knew on Monday after practice that this team was going to be as good as I thought they were going to be," head coach Kevin Willard said. "We watched film for two-and-a-half hours, and practiced for an hour. I was looking to see how they would bounce back. They were honest on the film and talked about things that were going on in the film. Then we had three days of our best practice we had all year.”

"They proved to me they weren't going to hang their heads or worry about anything," he added. "And they showed up great defensively."

Maryland eventually was able to knock down some shots, but the Pirates' effort on defense was there all game long. The final tallies: a shade under 30 percent shooting allowed for the game, 10 steals, 17 turnovers forced (including five from star point guard Cowan, who was again held in check by Quincy McKnight, more on him in a second).

Oh, and one more thing...

2. Blocking Around The Christmas Tree

Fifteen blocked shots. FIFTEEN. Let that sink in for a moment.

I don't think I've witnessed a more impressive display of shot-blocking at the collegiate level, let alone from Seton Hall. Romaro Gill and Ike Obiagu were absolute terrors against the Terrapins tonight, taking turns rejecting anything that dared venture too close to the hoop.

In the first half, it was starting center Gill who took center stage, with five blocked shots, most of which came in that long shutout stretch for the Pirates' defense. It was fitting that he had another monster game against Maryland, as last year's meeting in College Park was his coming-out party.

But when he picked up some foul trouble in the second half, Obiagu picked up right where he left off, swatting five shots of his own after halftime. Both men ended up with six blocks on the night, tying an individual record for blocks in a game by a Pirate at the Rock (2007-present).

"It was great because we were able to be much more aggressive full-court," Willard said. "Obviously, not having Myles changes what you can do offensively, but we were able to be more aggressive defensively than we have in the past. I thought Ro was fantastic in the first half, and Ike was great in the second half."

I asked McKnight if he'd ever experienced such a productive shot-blocking performance after the game as well.

"No, not since my AAU days," McKnight responded. "It's been a while since I saw guys blocking shots like that, and that's what they do, they bang each other up in practice every day."

Regrettably, we could not find out whether the 15 swats were a record or not, but if it was not, it had to have been close.

3. All I Want For Christmas Is 'Q'

Okay, now to the other big reason the Pirates were able to escape with the win: Quincy McKnight was outstanding. 

In his first game playing a true, scoring guard role since his Sacred Heart days, McKnight did it all. He poured in 17 points (12 in the second half), grabbed eight rebounds, dished out six assists and turned the ball over just twice, all while playing his usual perimeter defense. His perfect 6-for-6 mark from the charity stripe also salted the game away late when the Pirates were struggling to make their free throws.

Kevin Willard said that part of the reason they went so long in practice on Monday was to allow McKnight and Jared Rhoden (8 points, 12 rebounds) to essentially get used to things they had not been used to doing. For Rhoden, that was playing big minutes and also battling guys bigger than his size, but for McKnight, it was essentially a refresher course in taking the lead role in the offense. He did, of course, and his transition seemed smooth. Look for more of that in the coming weeks as Powell's timetable to return is still up in the air.

Not to be left out was Anthony Nelson, who stepped into the starting lineup for the first time and contributed 10 points and four assists to the cause. Willard was also quite pleased with him.

"Off misses, I thought he was great with the tempo," the skipper said. "And I thought he was very good with the fact that we wanted to use a lot of the clock. I wasn't going to be worried if we had three or four shot clock violations. We couldn't get into a ping-pong match with them, they're too good. So he understood we were going to start our offense with 18 seconds left on the shot clock and get a lot of shots with two or three seconds left. I thought he managed that tremendously.”

4. There's No Place Like Home For The Holidays

The double-gut punch of losing Mamukelashvili and Powell obviously rattled the fan base and it must have been felt by the team as well. But Willard kept things in perspective after the rivalry loss in Piscataway on Saturday. 

“We played at Iowa State in front of 15,000 people and lost our second-best player three minutes into the game, and then we went and played our rival game without our second-best player and lost an All-American technically three minutes into the game and played four-on-five for about 12 of those minutes," Willard said. "I said the reality of the situation is we’ve had a brutal schedule, we haven’t had time, we haven’t had a whole lot of home games, and I said where we are and who we are, we’re still that team at the beginning of the season. We’ve just played a lot harder schedule than everybody else.” 

"It was great being at home because we played great defense at Iowa State," Willard added. "But when you’re on the road, eventually if you’re not scoring and you’re playing great defense, eventually a guy like (Tyrese) Haliburton or Geo Baker’s going to make shots and they’re going to break your back, and that’s kind of what happened. I thought the crowd kind of helped us overcome some of our offensive struggles.”

They will have to scrap a little more and play defense akin to what they did tonight in order, but as the Pirates showed, they can adapt. They'll have to adapt as long as they remain short-handed.

5. Powell Update

As to how long they will remain short-handed, Willard said it will be a while, and you can't blame the Pirates for taking it slow. Head injuries are no joke, and Powell was not at the arena tonight due to him needing to stay away from bright lights and loud noises. But he was paying attention to the game, as the team FaceTimed him afterwards.

“I told him to turn off the lights," Willard said. "He was jumping all around- he’s not supposed to be jumping around. He did most of the talking, he just said how proud he was and how much he missed us, and then I yelled at him because he’s supposed to be in a dark room not doing anything, and he’s not doing it.”  

Willard did say he would be out on Sunday against Prairie View A&M and likely the Big East opener against DePaul, too. So, essentially, for the time being, these are the Pirates, and a performance like tonight, where so many guys stepped up in their own way, has to give confidence to a fan base that definitely needed a dose of it after the events of the past week.

Consider it an early Christmas present.

Kevin Willard quote book: Maryland

On his pride in Seton Hall’s effort:
“Yeah, I think that’s...I didn’t know if we could win because I knew we were going to struggle scoring at times, but I knew on Monday after practice that this team is still going to be as good as I thought they were going to be. We watched film for two-and-a-half hours and we practiced for an hour and a half, and after the practice, I was looking to see how they were going to bounce back. They were honest in the film, we all talked about things that were going on in the film, and then we had three days of our best practice we’ve had all year. They proved to me that they weren’t going to hang their heads, they weren’t going to worry about anything, and they showed up and they played great defensively.”

On Quincy McKnight:
“I think Quincy’s answered the bell since he stepped on campus, so I’m not worried about Q. I knew Q was smart enough to be able to handle sliding over a position and learning a new position in a couple of days. He’s got a great basketball IQ.”

On Romaro Gill and Ike Obiagu blocking 12 shots:
“I think it was great because we were able to be much more aggressive full-court. Obviously, not having Myles changes what you can do offensively, but we were able to be a little bit more aggressive defensively, even more than we have in the past, because now you beat them and you’ve got those two guys down, and I thought Ro was fantastic in the first half and I thought Ike was great in the second half.”

On Seton Hall’s postgame FaceTime with Myles Powell:
“I told him to turn off the lights. He’s jumping all around, he’s not supposed to be jumping around. He did most of the talking, he just said how proud he was and how much he missed us, and then I yelled at him because he’s supposed to be in a dark room not doing anything, and he’s not doing it.”

On handling Maryland’s press:
“We didn’t handle it great, but we handled it a little bit better. It’s just something we’ve got to continue to work on. Obviously we didn’t handle the Oregon game overly well, but I thought guys had a better understanding of what to do. We’ve just got to get a little better at it.”

On Anthony Nelson:
“I thought Anthony exactly what I’ve been envisioning what Ant would be, someone that I can give the ball to and he can make plays. Off misses, I thought he was great with the tempo, and I thought Ant was really good with the fact that we wanted to use a lot of clock, like, I wasn’t going to be worried if we had three or four shot clock violations. We couldn’t get in a ping-pong match with them, they’re too good. He understood that we were going to start offense with 18 seconds on the shot clock and we were going to get a lot of shots with two or three seconds, and I thought he managed that tremendously.”

On playing at home for the first time in nearly a month:
“The biggest thing I’ve been telling these guys over the last week is I’m not emotional anymore, I deal with reality. We played at Iowa State in front of 15,000 people and lost our second-best player three minutes into the game, and then we went and played our rival game without our second-best player and lost an All-American technically three minutes into the game and played four-on-five for about 12 of those minutes. I said the reality of the situation is we’ve had a brutal schedule, we haven’t had time, we haven’t had a whole lot of home games — we’ve played the least home games of anybody else — and I said where we are and who we are, we’re still that team at the beginning of the season. I said we’ve just played a lot harder schedule than everybody else. It was great being at home because we played great defense at Iowa State — I think they had two points in the first seven minutes, eight minutes of the game, but we had five — and when you’re on the road, eventually if you’re not scoring and you’re playing great defense, eventually a guy like (Tyrese) Haliburton or Geo Baker’s going to make shots and they’re going to break your back, and that’s kind of what happened. I thought the crowd kind of helped us overcome some of our offensive struggles.”

On the win being a confidence booster:
“I think it’s important, more importantly, I never look at things that way. I think the way they bounced back from Saturday and the way they attacked this week with a businesslike attitude, with a humble attitude to get ready for this game, that will go farther than any win will.”

On neutralizing Maryland:
“I think Maryland has a chance to win a national championship. I think they’re that good. When you have (Anthony) Cowan...they’ve had nine days off since they lost to Penn State, that’s sometimes not a good thing, and then going on the road — they’ve been back-to-back road games — I think (if) you get them on a neutral floor with that talent, the way they shoot it, I think (Aaron) Wiggins is one of the best shooters I’ve seen, I think they’re that good. I thought switching up defenses and being a little bit aggressive kept them off balance. I thought that was key.”

On weak-side perimeter pressure:
“I thought Q and Ant were really pivotal in just keeping them off balance. We put three or four guys on Cowan, who I think is tremendous, and I thought when you can switch guys and you don’t get the same guy all the time and they’re switching defenses, you can kind of get a guy like Cowan a little bit off balance.”

On Myles Powell:
“Myles is doing great. We use the term out indefinitely because I didn’t want to put a timeline on it, because it’s going to be a while. He won’t be back Sunday, he’s probably not going to be back for DePaul, we’re going to take our time with this. He kind of got a triple KO in the game: He took the charge, he got a shoulder and then he got a late shoulder again, the combination of the three has made it a pretty serious concussion. The good thing is the Big East has done a lot with concussion protocol and our trainer has led the way, so we’ve done genetic testing for him, we have every test so far in a baseline, so he’s doing great. He’s in great spirits, I talked to him before the game, we talked afterwards. He’s ecstatic, but he will not be back anytime soon.”

On the extended film session:
“Two-and-a-half hours is very out of the ordinary, yes. But again, my main goal is getting Jared and Tyrese comfortable in a spot that they really haven’t played, and I had to get Quincy comfortable doing some things that he has not done in two years. It was something that was necessary not just for today’s game, it was more necessary for moving forward.”

On importance of this game for Seton Hall’s supporting cast:
“Very important, just because they really haven’t struggled. It’s just that when you have one guy take 50 percent of your shots, they don’t have the chance to shine as much as people think they should be doing at certain times. But I think it’s very important for the fact they understand who they are right now, and right now, we’ve got to be a bunch of junkyard dogs and we’ve got to be nitty and we’ve got to be gritty, and we’ve got to scratch and claw our way to victories. We’re just not going to be able to kind of rely on one guy to get 26 points and a power forward to get 14 and eight. We’re just going to have to be much different.”

On gaining experience from adjusting to life without Powell and Sandro Mamukelashvili:
“I’ve said this since Sandro went down: I’ve said it’s only going to help us come February. The amount of time that Jared’s getting — Jared didn’t play last year at the beginning of the year, Ant played sparingly, he came in and got spot minutes — so these guys are now getting big-time minutes in big-time games. It’s only going to help them and help us. It’s going to give them confidence, and they know when they’re on the floor, they can do it.”