Monday, January 17, 2011

Miscellaneous Thoughts From the Past Weekend

I was thinking more about Old Dominion's win over Hofstra on Saturday.  Really was impressed with the play of Frank Hassell.  In my CAA preview, Hassell was my key player this season for the Monarchs.   And he had a huge second half against the Pride in which he scored 12 of his 18 points and 7 of his 13 rebounds.  He did this all while committing only two fouls in the game.

Kent Bazemore may be their most talented player, but Hassell is ODU's most consistent player.   Hassell leads the Monarchs in scoring averaging 12.9 points per game, shooting 55 percent from the field and ODU is 6-0 when Hassell has a double double.  The Monarchs now play their next three games at home which starts with  James Madison, then a game against VCU.  Both Madison and VCU are tied for first with Hofstra.

As for Hofstra,  the Pride didn't get the balanced scoring they had been getting in their previous four wins.  Yes, Charles Jenkins and Mike Moore outscored ODU's Hassell and Bazemore 38-36.  But the Monarchs got at least 8 or more points from four other players while the only other Hofstra player with more than 8 was Shemiye McLendon with 9 points.   Also, the Pride frontcourt must play better.  Greg Washington and David Imes had disappointing games Saturday combining for eight points and eight rebounds against ODU.  Against the Monarchs, that's not going to get it done. You may see  freshman forward Stephen Nwaukoni (four points and five rebounds in eleven minutes) play more for Hofstra.

The next two games for Hofstra are key as they are home to UNC Wilmington then travel Saturday to William and Mary, a team Drexel lost to on Saturday.   The Pride need to win those next two games because then they face a four game gauntlet after that - home to JMU, road game at VCU, home to Drexel then a road game at George Mason.   This six game stretch will tell us a lot about Hofstra.

I ponied up for the $5.00 fee for the Iona - Rider live stream last Friday (game picture is Iona's win over St Peter's last week).  It was a wild game won by Iona 100-96 in overtime.  If you were looking for defense, this wasn't the game for you.  However, if you like end to end action and lots of scoring, this was the game for you.  The Gaels were up 17 in the first half and looked like they were going to blow the Broncs out of their own building.  In fact, Iona was up 42-30 late in the first half, then stopped going to Michael Glover inside.  The result, a 31-11 Rider run over the span of two halves.

Rider was up 61-53 with 11:58 left in the game. And it looked like I was going to write about how Iona blew a huge opportunity against Rider by not going to the big man Glover more.  Glover had 11 quick first half points but was scoreless over a  twenty three minute span over two halves until a little less than six minutes left in the game.

Then Glover took over.  Glover would score 13 points over the final 11 minutes of the game (which included the five minute overtime period).  Glover had 24 points, 17 rebounds, shot 8 of 12 from the field and 8 of 10 from the free throw line.  He has eleven double double games this season (Iona is 9-2 in those games) and is shooting a ridiculous 66 percent from the field.

Nine players from both teams combined scored in double figures in the game.  Rider's talented duo of Mike Ringgold and Novar Gadson combined for 43 points on 17 of 27 shooting.    Meanwhile, talented Iona freshman Sean Armand is really coming on.  He had 17 points in the Rider game and had 22 points yesterday against Marist.    With Glover, Scott Machado, Kyle Smyth and Jermel Jenkins, just what Iona needs, another scoring option.  Look for Rider and Iona to be the top two teams in the MAAC (though Fairfield may have something to say about that tonight vs. Rider).

I watched Butler twice over the weekend.  I saw the second half of their dismantling of Detroit on the Titans home court, then I watched their exciting loss to Wright State at the Nutter Center last night.   They certainly aren't struggling to score points.  They put 87 on  Detroit shooting 57 percent and they are actually averaging five points more per game than last season.  Matt Howard is averaging 17 per game and Shelvin Mack is averaging 14 points per game, the same as last season (though he is shooting 39.6 percent as opposed to 45.4 percent last season).

The difference between Butler last season and this season is defense.  The Bulldogs only played four games last season where they gave up 69 or more points, only one of which was in conference (and they were 1-3 in those games).  Already this season, the Bulldogs have given up 69 or more points seven times, three of which are in conference.  They are 2-5 in those games, including 1-2 in the Horizon.

The Bulldogs scoring defense in the Horizon last season was 58 points per game (that was through all 18 regular season games plus the two tournament games).   Through seven games this season, the Bulldogs scoring defense is 66.6.  Over eight points a game is a huge difference which explains their 5-2 conference record and their 13-6 overall record.   Not only do they miss Gordon Hayward, they also really miss Willie Veasley, a very good defensive stopper.

One of my favorite teams St Mary's is starting to get respect in national circles as they are ranked #21 in the country.  Of course, with national rankings comes a glaring spotlight and the Gaels, who are second in the country in FG percentage and assists, are going to quickly find out if they are up to the bright lights.  After what should be a win at home Wednesday vs a San Diego team that's winless in conference, the Gaels travel a long distance to face Vanderbilt on Saturday afternoon.   Then after that, the road trip continues as they head back west to Spokane to face Gonzaga, then it's off to Portland.  If St Mary's can win 2 of those 3 road games, that would be huge, as in at large bid resume huge.

There are some other things of note in college basketball and let's do in bullet style.

  • I got to see Florida Atlantic win a road game vs. Hofstra and I was pretty impressed with the Owls, especially Greg Gantt.  Well the Owls are the only undefeated team in the Sun Belt at 6-0 and 14-6 overall.   And don't expect Mike Jarvis' team to wilt as the season goes on because nine Owl players average at least 10 minutes per game.
  • Belmont is freaking ridiculous.  They are 16-3 overall, 9th in the country in points per game, 18th in the country in assists, 47th in FG percentage.  The Bruins' average margin of victory in the Atlantic Sun is a dumbfounding 29 points per game.  They have won by 30 or more points in conference five times.  Finally Belmont has only lost to likely NCAA Tournament teams Tennessee (twice) and Vanderbilt and those were all single digit losses.  They are good.  Real good.
  • What's more impressive about Missouri State - The fact the Bears are 27th in the country in FG percentage, that they are 7-0 in the Missouri Valley, or the fact that four of their Valley wins came at probably the toughest places to play.  Missouri State has won at Wichita State, at Creighton, at UNI and at Bradley.  Give me the latter on that question.  Damn impressive.
  • Hey CAA fans, remember Ron Everhart, formerly coach of the Northeastern Huskies, now the coach of Duquesne?   Well Everhart's team has been the surprise so far of the Atlantic 10 as they are 3-0 in conference.  The Dukes, fourth in the country in assists, dominated Temple Saturday 78-66.  Duquesne has an excellent chance to be 6-0 with a favorable schedule (at LaSalle, home to Charlotte and at Fordham) before playing Dayton at home on January 30.
  • Finally a little love for Coastal Carolina.  The Chanticleers are an overall dominant team -11th in the country in FG percentage, 19th in scoring, 23rd in rebounding and 24th in assists.  They are 16-2 overall, 7-0 in the Big South.  But we will find out if they are real for sure because their next four games are all on the road.

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