Full Court Press: Surprise, Surprise!
There are a couple of early surprises on the local college hoop scene but none more surprising and well-deserved than the early season play of the Monmouth Hawks.
Coach King Rice has the Hawks riding high after signature wins over UCLA, Notre Dame and USC.
And after coming off last week’s 83-73 win over USC to finish third place in the Advocare Invitational (ESPN Wide World of Sports – HP Field House), Monmouth received the program’s first Top AP 25 vote.
Justin Robinson has had a fast start for the Hawks averaging 24.5 ppg, while Micah Seaborn has chipped in with 13.8 ppg.
Deon Jones has owned the glass grabbing nearly 8 boards per game.
The Hawks (4-2) will get down to MAAC business this evening when they open a two-day road trip to Western New York.
Tonight they face the Canisius Golden Griffins (2-3) at the Koessler Athletic Center (7 pm) in Buffalo, NY.
On Sunday, they conclude their MAAC road trip when they face the Niagara Purple Eagles (2-5) at the Gallagher Center (2 pm).
The Hawks first big MAAC showdown will be on January 15 when they face Iona in New Rochelle, NY.
Three day later on January 18 they will host Siena.
Riding the momentum from last year’s encouraging 18-15 campaign, I believe the Hawks are poised to make a serious run in the MAAC tournament and that treasured automatic NCAA bid.
Lots of Pride
Hofstra Coach Joe Mihalich has a veteran squad that looks like they will have much to say about who dominates the CAA this year. The Pride has three quality wins in the early season (all on the road) over Florida State (82-77), St. Bonaventure (89-83) and LaSalle (84-80).
Scoring has been incredibly well balanced with Juan’ya Green leading the way at 18.4 ppg; followed by Ameen Tanksley (15.7), Brian
Bernardi (14.6), Denton Koon (12.6) and Rokas Gustys (9.1).
The Pride plays an entertaining brand of basketball and love to get the ball up the court in a hurry.
They live and die with the three-ball and their three-game stretch against JMU, Northeastern and William & Mary in mid-January will be an early indicator of just how serious a contender they will be in the CAA.
However, like the MAAC, the CAA tournament champ determines who will get the NCAA automatic bid.
ACC/Big Ten Challenge
I had the opportunity to catch the ACC/Big Ten Challenge contest between BC and Penn State this past Wednesday, which Penn State won 67-58.
Although neither team is expected to pose a serious threat in their respective conferences, there were a number of interesting local angles in the game.
Penn State’s Shep Garner (Chester,Pa/Roman Catholic) was on fire from beyond the arc and led all scorers with 30 points.
Brandon Taylor (Trenton, N.J./ Trenton Catholic) leads the Nittany Lions in scoring and Julian Moore (Philadelphia,Pa/ Germantown Academy) and moved into the starting lineup.
Penn State Coach Patrick Chambers, now in his fifth season at the helm, is a Philly native who has reinvigorated the Nittany Lions basketball program.
Chambers is one of Villlanova head coach Jay Wright’s coaching disciples.
On the BC side of the ledger, New Jersey native and fifth year graduate transfer Eli Carter (Paterson/St. Anthony’s) leads the Eagles in scoring with an 18 ppg.
Carter will lead the Eagles when they face Player of the Year candidate Kris Dunn (New London, Ct) and the Providence Friars on December 9 at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence.
It’s the arc baby
Many feel that the expanded arc in the paint, appears to have allowed players more freedom to get to the rack.
For one, Boston College coach Jim Christian concurs that the expanded arc has been the most noticeable of the new rules introduced this season (arc, shot clock, freedom of movement).
He is quick to point out though that the powers to be need to make the change effective for both the men’s and women’s game, because with the two arc’s in the current configuration, things can get confusing for the players. The refs too!!!
Hopefully, the 30 second shot clock is just an interim step this year as it really should be 24 seconds….
Does last night’s UCLA win over Kentucky give any further significance to Monmouth’s season opening victory over UCLA????
Congratulations to Louisville Coach Rick Pitino who coached his 500th game for the Cardinals last Wednesday against Tom Izzo’s Michigan State Spartans. Pitino is 373-127 in 14 seasons at UL.
Conference games are fast approaching…Keep shooting….
Follow Bob on Twitter for all the latest in college hoop happenings, game highlights, features and more: @WhitneyBob
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