Saturday, January 31, 2009

62 was fun.....

The Mount won for the eighth straight time 65-51 over Wagner at Knott Arena late Saturday afternoon on Turn Back the Clock Day.

Jeremy Goode keyed the win and is playing very well of late. But all-in-all it was a very sluggish Mount performance.

The good news is they can shoot 36% and win relitively easy against a conference opponent.

The Mounties struggled to ever really get opening offensively, sans about a six-minute stretch at the end of the first half and the start of the second half, when they really accounted for most of the final margin.

Kelly Beidler was once again a force. He ended in double figures in both points and rebounds for his fifth double-double of the year. He finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds.

Jean Cajou despite struggling from long range ended up with sixteen points.

The difference in the game may have been at the foul line. The Mount capitalized making 20-of-25 free throws, while the Seahawks were just 50% from the charity stripe.

So the Mount keeps winning, but they'll have to be better down the stretch then they were today. They play five of their final seven on the road and need to be sharper and crisper.

But still it's hard to argue with success. This eight-game winning streak is the second longest in Division I history for the Mount.

Off to the game

I'm off the the homecoming game this afternoon. The Mount takes on Wagner as it tries to extend its seven-game winning streak. The game tip offs at 4pm and is available on MSG for you out-of-towners.

Wagner is 10-10 overall but just 3-7 in the league. They are the only NEC team with a winning record in non-conference play.

I expect the Mount to continue to play well and post an 80-56 win.

It should be a special day as the Mount will honor its 1962 national championship team by wearing throwback uniforms.

Looking forward to it.

Mount O'Links

Winter homecoming salutes National championship team

Bryant finishing road trip

Women fell to Longwood

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Winning streak to 7

The Mount ran away from Quinnipiac and posted its seventh straight win 60-42 on the road on Thursday evening. Jeremy Goode led the victors with 19 points.

I did not see the game so I don't have much more to offer, although I did find it interesting that the Mount trailed early, 10-2. They tied the score at 10 before taking the lead for good just before halftime. After the early slow start, the Mount outscored QU 58-32 in total dominating fashion.

The Mounties continue to play well and return to the ARCC for a late Saturday afternoon contest with Wagner. The game is being carried by the NEC TV network and will be available on MSG.

Will Holland shot the ball well in limited minutes as he continues to rebound from the hand injury that kept him out of last weeks win versus CCSU. Jean Cajou and Kelly Beidler had nine for the Mounties.

Wrapping up the Quinnipiac win

From the AP

Mount O'Links

Bryant back on the road

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

That was a bad question

Nothing like Billy Gillespie to get a boring Tuesday night moving.

Gillespie, whose Wildcats lead Ole Miss 39-37 at the half, just ate Jeannine Edwards' for lunch as he walked off the floor at the end of the first half. Edwards wanted to know what adjustments Gillespie was going to make at halftime to get Jodie Meeks, the nation's third leading scorer, going after a first half in which he scored just 6 points.

Gillespie reminded Edwards that this was the University of Kentucky and not the Jodie Meeks show and his team had a two-point lead. Then he closed with, that was a bad question.

Made me chuckle.

Mount O'Links

Cornell has a winning streak of its own

Could this be the end for Gary Williams? unsure of the broadcast crew for Saturday's turn back the clock game against Wagner

Monday, January 26, 2009


Hakim Warrick's block which preserved the National championship for the Orange in New Orleans over Kansas in 2003 was just selected as the 24th best play in college basketball in the last 30 years by ESPN.

From a national and historical standpoint that seems to fit in pretty accurately.

But from my standpoint and I know some readers of this blog, it is much much higher.

A new postseason tournament announced today that it will put on a season-ending basketball tournament. The field will be selected after the NCAA and NIT have selected their fields.

Among those on the selection committee is College Basketball hall-of-famer and former Mt. St. Mary's head coach Jim Phelan.

That makes four postseason tournaments. The College Basketball Invitational debuted last season with Tulsa winning the title. That tournament is sponsored by the Gazelle Group and according to the Gazelle Group's website will play its best of three championship series March 30th-April 3rd. is a great asset to the game of college basketball and has routinely focused on the mid-major level of college hoops with a Mid-Major Top 25. So it might very well be focusing its efforts on some of the mid-majors that don't participate in the NCAA or NIT tournaments. Right now, regular season conference champions as well as conference tournament champions are guaranteed a postseason berth.

I think this could be a real fine tournament if it focuses on the mid-majors and doesn't go for five-hundred level teams from the BCS conferences.

Wrapping up the Monmouth win

From the Gettysburg Times

Mount O'Links

Manuel steps up at UVA

Orangewomen drop heartbreaker in Dome

Monday night gamewatching I might also recommend Oklahoma and Oklahoma State tonight.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Another win

A few thoughts after the Mount's 70-52 win over Monmouth on Saturday night at Knott Arena.....

....Thursday's game on the road at Quinnipiac is huge. The team has done so much to get back in the race, that they must carry that over into victory against a solid QU team.

....They better work on the effort from the foul line. 13-26 or 14-28 whatever it ended up, isn't going to cut it in close games. Tonight's game was never as close as the score and it could have easily been a 30-point win.

....Shawn Atupem might very well be the best offensive post player of the Division I at Mt. St. Mary's. He has room to improve no doubt about it. But he's got a quick first move, touch around the hoop and a soft jumper from decent range. He's only going to get better.

....Kelly Beidler continues to do a lot and I'm not sure anyone really notices. The junior had 10 points, 9 rebounds and a bunch of assists. (Check the final numbers for accuracy - I guarantee nothing). He is super strong on the glass and he plays both inside and out. He is a huge commodity for this team and he's somewhat unsung.

....It was great to see Danny Thompson make his collegiate debut. The redshirt freshman, who was very highly touted when he arrived on campus, but has been snakebitten with injuries finally logged a few minutes. He ran up and down the court a few times and should have been credited with a rebound. Great to see him out there.

....The Mount played well in stretches, but seemed to lack that finishing power tonight. Against good competition the Mount needs to be solid all forty minutes. But it's hard to argue with tonight's result. I said 74-59 going in, so it wasn't like I was expecting more.

Still this team is playing well, getting to the point many of us expected. Let's see what next week brings.

Mount O'Links

From the Hartford Courant on Friday

Sacred Heart 70, Quinnipiac 66: Sacred Heart broke a 62-62 tie with an 8-2 run and defeated Quinnipiac in Hamden.

Joey Henley had 25 points, Ryan Litke 14 points and Ryon Howard 13 points and eight rebounds for the Pioneer (7-11, 4-4 NEC). Justin Rutty had 22 points and 18 rebounds for Quinnipiac (8-10, 4-4), which is at Central Saturday at 2 p.m.

Cornell looks to extend home win streak

Bryant at home to face LIU

Army/Navy Sunday on the U

Elo Ratings bracket

Recapping Friday

Friday, January 23, 2009

Quick Recap

Sometimes you can't go on numbers alone.

The win against Central Connecticut State 64-62 at the Knott Arena last night, might not have been the prettiest of victories. But the Mount did earn a victory on a night it seemed destined it would lose.

I mean I heard a coach say the other week, that "there are nights you are just supposed to lose, and if you can minimize your losses on those nights, you'll be ok"

I think the Thursday night was one of the those night's the Mount was supposed to lose. Every break in the first half went the Blue Devils way. Shemik Thompson, despite turning the ball over 7 times, made everything he threw up. CCSU scored inside of 5 on the shot clock on seemingly every first half possession.

But in the end, it was the first 15 minutes of the second half when the Mounties got the Devils to play their game, and went from seven down to 11 up 60-49 that was the difference in the game.

Actually we wish we would have left the Knott Arena right then and there with the Mount leading by 11, checked the standings this morning and been done with it. Because the next five minutes were incredibly nerve wracking and CCSU nearly came all the way back. But a key defensive stop inside of a minute to play and two clutch Jean Cajou free throws kept the winning streak alive.

Will Holland missed the game with some sort of hand injury. Looks like a soft cast on his left (non-shooting) hand, if I could guage it from across the court. Hopefully, he returns quickly because he was really starting to play very well, and his outside jumper can be used to stretch the defense.

Great job by Kelly Beidler on Ken Horton. (Caton said Horton laid an egg - very good). The NEC's leading scorer had just six second half points. Beidler ended up in double figs, making several big threes in the second half.

And once again Jeremy Goode was Jeremy Goode. As good as Thompson was, Goode was better. He had 23 and a handful of assists to help rally the team. He has the long-range (and we mean long-range) jumper dialed in and is once again a joy to watch.

The Mount is back into second place in the NEC - tied with Long Island at the moment. Monmouth awaits on Saturday - again at home. Let's see what that brings.

Wrapping Up the CCSU win gives a mention about midway through

Hoops Junkie wraps up NEC play from Thursday night with a few links

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Headed to the Game

I'm excited about tonight's home game with Central Connecticut. I think it will really give us a good feeling about where the Mount is at this point and whether they are truly going to be a contender down the stretch.

The Blue Devils are a team that have traditionally given the Mount fits, but I think tonight should be another solid win for the Mounties. I'm expecting a double digit triumph somewhere in the neighborhood of 74-64. That will be my measuring stick.

Hopefully, Jeremy Goode is the player he was a week ago when he was the Choice Hotels NEC player of the Week. And hopefully, he continues to get balance from the rest of the lineup, which makes Goode and the Mount all the better.

I'm still a bit sketchy on internet service, so not sure I'll get to post a recap afterwards. But, I'll try my best and if not I'll try to have something for you all by lunch tomorrow.

Off to the ARCC, go Mount!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Another solid performance

Mt. St. Mary's downed Sacred Heart 78-67 at Knott Arena yesterday behind the exceptional guard play of Jeremy Goode and Jean Cajou. The starting backcourt tandem combined to score 47 points, 24 for Goode and 23 for Cajou to lead the Mount to a good NEC victory.

The Mount trailed by as many as seven in the first half as the Pioneers shot the ball exceptionally well early on. But the Mounties rallied near the end of the first half to knot the score at 33, and then did away with SHU early in the second half. The Atumpem brothers were also in double digits as the Mount once again got some balance in the offensive attack. Kelly Beidler also had a very good game, despite scoring only 3 points. The junior had a handful of key rebounds and 7 assists in the victory.

The Mount offense was once again efficient and Goode is playing much better right now than he was during the tough stretch in December. He was exceptional yesterday, made the right decisions, and has found the long range stroke once again. He buried back-to-back treys in the second half that essentially sealed the Pioneers fate.

The Mount has won 6-of-7 and appears to be playing more at the level that we saw at the end of last year and the start of this year, than we had seen during most of the month of December. After three conference losses to start the season, they have crept back up in the conference standings with the four straight wins. Based on the way the rest of the conference is performaning and the recent efforts of the Mount, you might have to think they would be favored in every game the rest of the way. I know thought that before yesterday. Obviously the regular season finale at Robert Morris might be the lone exception, and Pomeroy now has RMU as the favorite. And I'm not in anyway predicting the Mount will win the rest of its games, but a 13-5 league record seems accomplishable. That should give them one of the top 3 seeds in the league playoffs.

But let's not get the cart too far in front of the horse. The key for this team is to continue to be effective offensively and that occurs best when the pace is quicker. And to play that tough defense. But things are shaping up as a very exciting finish to the season.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

That's what I've been waiting for

Thursday night's 80-54 beatdown of Long Island at Knott Arena was exactly what this team is capable of. It was a truly efficient offensive performance (5 maybe 6 players in double figures) and a suffocating defensive effort. Did Kyle Johnson make the trip?

The Mount needs to capatilize on this momentum they are building and continue to forge their way back into the NEC race. All of these home games need to be Wins.

Huge effort from Will Holland who made some key shots early when the offense was struggling and the game was close. I think he ended up the leading scorer with 16.

Jeremy Goode is really starting to look like Jeremy Goode again. He is now adjusting to the adjustments that teams have made to him. I thought #1 had his best game in awhile. He had about 15 points and probably 5+ assists and rebounds. Real all-around solid effort from him.

Jean Cajou was a blanket on Johnson. And Holland and Beidler helped out when Cajou was on the bench with two fouls in the first half. He also knocked down a couple of triples and seems to be taking more makeable shots. He's shooting in rhythm instead of trying to force up jump shots. A very good night for him.

The big guys inside scored a bunch. I think they probably had close to 25 from the three-man rotation. Shawn continues to be the flashiest, but doesn't rebound the way the other two do, and Sam had a very solid night offensively.

Kelly was Kelly and he is just so strong on the glass and can put the ball on the floor and do so much for you.

I really thought this was the first night that the team clicked on all cylinders and it wasn't the best first ten minutes. Yet I had a good feeling early in the game.

Let's not forget this Long Island team had only lost once in the league entering the contest, so this was a very big win.

A follow up on my post from the other day about this Blog's status. The movers arrive at my house at 8AM tomorrow morning. Not sure when I'll have my internet restored in the upcoming days. And I'm sure if I'll be at the Sacred Heart game on Saturday. I told the group of friends helping me move the items the movers don't take tomorrow, that my one goal is to be at the 2 o'clock tip. But I haven't shared that with my wife yet. So I'm still very questionable for Saturday.

Sometimes when things don't go your way, even when you are playing well, you forget how to win. I think that might have happened to this team a little bit. But I'm hoping they rediscovered it and the rest of the season lives up to the early expectations.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Fan Blog Status

We know - we've been very lax on the coverage lately. And the Mount players deserve more after two straight sound wins. But just trust us when we say we've got a lot going on at the moment. So anyhow, coverage may continue to be iffy for the next week or two. But we hope to back strong for February as the Mounties make a push for the NCAA tournament. I did see some good things in both Thursday's and Saturday's wins. Although I only saw about 24 minutes of the game Saturday and it was so choppy because of all the fouls, that it was tough to get a handle on. But two good wins and two tough home games this weekend. I will (crossing my fingers) be at the game on Thursday night, and hope to be there Saturday afternoon - but that is somewhat unlikely.

So please bear with us for the next two weeks. I apologize to the loyal readers. But we will get back at this more routinely in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Thoughts a day later

I'm still trying to figure out what exactly went down at the Knott Arena last night. Robert Morris won the game 77-70 and the Mount fell to 0-3 in the Northeast Conference that much I know for sure.

Reading some of the comments in the papers this morning it doesn't seem like the team has lost confidence.

I really thought the offense was pretty stale in the middle part of the game. And Cooker's article in the Times this morning had some sort of ugly run spanning the two halves that was like 35-10 or some sort of ugliness. But the total numbers show nearly a point a possession. In fact the offensive numbers by that standard, were the best they have been in any loss this year. They (the numbers) were definitely hindered by that stretch in the middle of the game, and helped by the efficient nature of the game early on and the clock stoppages late.

Ultimately, I think it was Robert Morris' ability to get the ball in the paint to its interior players and rebound their misses that made the difference in the game. Those problems for the Mount allowed the Colonials to pull out the win.

According to Ken Pomeroy's rankings, the Mount is still clearly the best team in the Northeast Conference. So with less than 20% of the conference season complete there is still the opportunity for the Mount to get hot and get on a roll in the conference. It wouldn't be impossible for them to win enough to get at least one home game in the conference tournament, and maybe even more if all goes right. Pomeroy says they'll be favored in all but one of those games, and will finish with six conference losses. We'll see.

So I'm not sure I'm ready for wholesale changes. And I'm not sure where they could come from anyhow. With that said, I have liked the efficiency that Pierre Brown provides. He might not be the best fundamental basketball player of the bunch, but his athleticism allows him to make an impact. He played 15 minutes last night and he deserves those minutes. But they can't come from taking Kelly Beidler off the floor.

So that means that the Mount needs to find a way to get some time with just one of its traditional post players on the floor. Find a way to get four of the five perimiter players on the floor at the same time. Play Beidler at the four, or Will Holland down low a little bit. Maybe Brown can even rotate in a little bit down there.

I'm a little more reserved today. Last night was a difficult night to take. A tough loss to swallow. Things were very good for the first ten minutes of the game, but so bad for that middle section.

Time to put this behind us. The Fairleigh Dickinson Knights are coming town. And the Mount needs a win.

Mount O'Links

Mount starting to reappear in some brackets

Lady Colonials win as well

CAA Report

Baltimore College Hoops roundup

Monday, January 05, 2009

Wrapping up the loss to Robert Morris

The Associated Press Story

Robert Morris release

Mount release

Frederick News Post

Jeff Cook in the Times

Colonials win at the ARCC

Trying to find a positive in Mount St. Mary's 77-70 loss to Robert Morris if you're a Mountaineer fan is like searching for a needle in a haystack. A real big haystack.

The Mount played very well for the first ten to twelve minutes of the game held a 26-15 lead with about 7 or 8 minutes left in the first half. They went to the weave on offense and that was about it.

The Colonials, to their credit, carved their way back into the game by getting the Mount bigs in some foul trouble and by halftime had the lead whittled to five at 33-28. A big Colonial run to start the second half saw the visitors build a lead that one point expanded to as many as 11. The Mounties tried to rally but some porous foul shooting and not enough defensive stops led to the Mount's third league loss in as many tries.

The Mount plays hard and works their tails off on defense. But the offense doesn't have enough fluidity to it and the efficiency falls as a result. There are too many times that the offense is catching and holding. As a result, there are a lot of times where the best shots don't come for the Mount.

This team still has as much talent as anyone it will play in the Northeast Conference. But it has now spotted the field a three-game lead. Near perfection will be necessary to catch this field, and at this point a simple league win would be a start.

I was impressed with the Colonials and their interior presence. Ron Robinson is a player, particularly at this level. And I thought Dallas Green rebounded very well, particularly offensively, but seemed to be in Rice's doghouse for unknown reasons. He didn't play very much. Jeremy Chappell is still the class of the Colonials and he got his points, but I thought Jean Cajou did a fairly nice job on him. But you can't give him an inch or he'll take advantage of it. And with him and the other two guards, along with the two post players it does present matchup problems for the Mount.

I'm going back Thursday night, but I heard others who said they weren't. That's what expectations do when you don't meet them.

From the Robert Morris perspective

Andrew Chiappazzi who runs a fine blog on the Robert Morris Colonials joins us for a few words about tonight's game at the ARCC. A big thank you to Andrew for stopping by. Tip off is 7 o'clock.

1. How much have the Colonials been pointing to this game after the way last year ended up?

Not as much as you might think. They recognize how important it is, but they're not bringing it up in the media or even in one-on-one sessions. Jeremy Chappell seemed to be more focused on getting some revenge on St. Francis PA this weekend - he was forced to sit out the first SFPA game last December when the Red Flash came in and upset the Colonials in Moon Township. That said, the Colonials still have that bitter taste in their mouth and they're going to do all they can to control both games this year.

2. Is there a better rivalry than this for the Colonials?

No. This is it. One might be able to point to Duquesne as being a more natural rival, but that series simply doesn't carry the weight it once did. Duquesne's a nice win if they can get it, and a solid environment for a basketball game in Pittsburgh, but there's no true hatred there. The Mount will be roundly jeered when they walk onto the Sewall Center floor in February.

3. It seemed like the Colonials really struggled offensively at the start of the season. But that has really gotten better of late, the Duquesne and Xavier games withstanding. Has there been a change or is it just a matter of this new group fitting into roles?

It's tough to replace two 1,000 point scorers and two of the best players ever to put on a Robert Morris uniform. Tony Lee and AJ Jackson were the focal points of the offense last year. Everything ran through them, even if it ended in a Chappell jumper or Jimmy Langhurst three. It is very much a work-in-progress. Jimmy Langhurst has been quiet. Bateko Francisco hadn't done much at all until Saturday offensively - although he's been dynamite defensively - and JUCO transfer Rob Robinson has battled a knee injury and an overall comfort level. They've struggled, but they're beginning to gel.

4. What is the sense around the team as it heads into the NEC portion of the season?

They believe they can win. This team is not as offensively talented as last year's team, but they're more athletic. Rob Robinson can sky out of the building - he puts on a show during warm-ups - so he's replaced the stockier AJ Jackson down-low. Chappell is even better than he was last year. He's stronger, he's faster, and his endurance and stamina have improved. But they are inconsistent. They love the three-pointer, and they want to make the spectacular play. Mike Rice has slowly worked that out of their system, but the tendency is still there. They should be right there at the end, even if it's not as pretty as winning 26-games like they did last year.

5. What Colonial newcomer will we be most impressed with in Emmitsburg?

Rob Robinson. The Colonials brought six recruits in and will only dress two. Brandon Greene never stepped foot on campus and ended up at Cecil College (JuCo) in Maryland. Jason Burns came in and then left the school, not sure where he ended up. Russell Johnson came in this year to focus on academics and will suit up next year. Velton Jones was thrown a curveball by the NCAA when they ruled him a partial qualifier sometime in October. He was set to work behind Langhurst and Gary Wallace at the point, and the NCAA raised some questions about when he took his last class as a high school student. So he's practicing with the team but can't play in games. That leaves Josiah Whitehead, a 6'8 physical bulldog, and Rob Robinson. Whitehead is solid, but Robinson is a potential game-changer. He's 6'8, lanky, but extremely physical. He's from Waldorf, Maryland but he plays like he was brought up on the courts of Coney Island. He's strong, he throws his body around, and he's extraordinarily athletic. How he continues to progress, and how he handles the emotional rollercoaster of D-I basketball, remains to be seen, but his physical ability is very impressive.

6. Is this team sort of the type of team that will go as far as Jeremy Chappell takes it, or is there someone who can step up in his absence?

In the early going, it seemed that way. But as Bateko Francisco pointed out the other night, this team is at its best when it is sharing the ball. Chappell's going to get his 20+ points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals every night. But if someone else isn't going to add to that, no matter who it is, they won't win. Saturday's game against SFPA is a great indicator of what needs to happen every night. Robinson had 12 points and controlled play inside. Francisco had 12 points. Nine of the 11 dressed Colonials played, all nine played at least 15 minutes, and all nine scored. If Robinson has a quiet night, then Whitehead or Dallas Green or Iffy Ehirim needs to step up. Langhurst can pop off for 20 points at any moment. Gary Wallace is coming into his game as a sophomore. Mezie Nwigwe is harnassing his athleticism and cutting down on the mistakes. They need to be there along with Chappell, though, and that's something that they're still figuring out.

7. What do you expect out of this game?

Intense, physical play, with both teams around 65 points and 18 fouls. It's going to come down to turnovers and sharing the ball. Robert Morris will need to limit their own mistakes, not necessarily in allowing steals, but simply throwing the ball away or swatting at a rebound rather than actually pulling it down. The team that limits their mistakes and takes quality offensive chances will win the game, because both defenses are just too good to let the other team have multiple opportunities.

Mount O' Links

Hawks take on Central tonight

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Robert Morris comes to town on Monday Night

Here is the preview from the Robert Morris Sports Information Department

Robert Morris and Mount set to renew rivalry

Syracuse ready for Big East Season

Nothing that the Syracuse Orangemen have done so far this season will really prepare them for what is to come as they enter into the heart of the Big East season in the next few days.

But that is because realistically there is nothing that can prepare you for a Big East season. With 8 teams in the Top 25, there is nothing quite like the Big East and the rigors that it presents.

Still, Syracuse which has a definite yearning to improve on the disappointment of the last two seasons is as close to ready as it can possibly be. Minus one little blip on the radar, a home buzzer-beating loss to Cleveland State, the Orange has passed every test along the way. Included in that mix are three marquee wins away from the Carrier Dome. Florida, Kansas and Memphis all fell victim to the Orange during the preseason part of the schedule.

The Orange was able to accomplish that with good point guard play from Jonny Flynn, who may well be unmatched by anyone in the country. Some solid shooting away from the basket by Flynn, Eric Devendorf and Andy Rautins. In addition, the solid inside play of Arinze Onuaku and recently named starter Rick Jackson has been tough for opponents to match. Plus, the all-around play of Paul Harris has been a key factor.

If you believe the rankings there are four Big East teams that are better than the 11th ranked Orange in the Big East. Pitt, Connecticut, Georgetown and Notre Dame all had slots ahead of Syracuse before play began last week. Personally, I'm not sure the Irish are deserving. They seem overrated to me.

Still, the Orange has five games against that group before the regular season ends. It will be interesting to see how they fare against that level of competition.

The Syracuse zone has always provided obstacles for Georgetown, so that might continue to be a matchup that favors the Orange. Syracuse should have won at the Verizon Center a year ago, and romped over the Hoyas at the Carrier Dome.

Meanwhile, Pitt was another game Syracuse should have closed out last year, but was unable to. The Panthers have been scary good to start the season this year. The two schools meet January 19th and you have to figure that the Panthers will be a favorite at that point. Syracuse might have an opportunity to prove that it has matured a bit in this contest and finish things off.

Styles do make matchups and in recent years, the style of play that UCONN presents has given the Orange fits. We'll see if the two big man attack of Onuaku and Jackson will be enough to trouble Thabeet inside for the Huskies. But that game is on the road and will probably see the Orange enter as an underdog.

The Irish does visit the Dome on January 17th. I think this game will possibly be a make or break game for each team at that point. It very well could be that the winner continues on as a contender in the Big East, while the loser falls into that tough second level. I'd give the Orange the advantage now, but the game is still two weeks away.

Syracuse seems to have gotten better this year. But they have still had moments where they haven't been fully focused. First halves like they played against Virginia, Richmond and Cornell lead to losses in the Big East against all levels of competition.

So even though it is obvious that this team has played the type of basketball capable of winning 25-plus games in the regular season during early season play. It is also possible that if they don't keep focus, that they will be back to where they were the last two seasons. A spot they don't want to find themselves on and that is on the bubble come Selection Sunday.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Wrapping up the Lafayette win

Media accounts from the 67-62 win at Lafayette

AP Story

A win streak for the Mount

First off, let me say, I didn't get to see Friday afternoon's win over Lafayette. I was stuck watching the gametracker view of it, so you don't really know exactly how the game was played.

But let me say this, the effort by Will Holland was huge. The junior from Houston has had a nightmare of a start to the season, but his 19-point effort couldn't have come at a better time. Just one game after not playing at all in the first half of the win over Bryant, Holland knocked down 3-of-4 three pointers and was a key factor in both a first half and a second half run that helped the Mount win on the road for the third time this season with a 67-62 win at Lafayette. If you're a Mount fan, and you've seen this kid struggle at the start of the season yet continue to work hard, you had to feel good for him. Let's hope 2009 is the start of some good things for him.

With it said about Holland, one has to wonder what happened to Kelly Beidler. After really becoming a force in the last few games, particularly on the boards, Beidler played just nine minutes and had three rebounds without a point. Again, I didn't see the game, so it could be that Beidler was injured or possibly sick for the game. He played seven minutes in the first half and two in the second so he may well be nursing something. We're clearly speculating here and we hope that he's 100% healthy for the conference home opener versus Robert Morris on Monday night.

Also a key factor to the Mountie win was the 20-of-26 foul shooting. This was reminiscent of the run to the championship last year. Free throws have been a problem this year and had the Mount continued to shoot at or around its 60% level in this game, it likely wouldn't have gotten the victory.

The game was also the best shooting performance that Jeremy Goode has had in awhile and the team is going to need to get him going in league play. He started the game with a three and finished with 15 points.

The Mount built a 16-point 53-37 lead midway through the second half, so you have to be a little concerned about the fact that the Mount couldn't cruise to the victory, but after a rough shooting first half, in the 33% range, they shot better than 50% in the second made their free throws and got the win.

Road wins are tough to come by and the two game winning streak should give the team some momentum headed to league play on Monday night.