Tag Archives: Kentucky

Around The Rim With Bob Whitney: Welcome Back College Hoops

20181106_223717

Former Braintree High and Kimball Union star Nic Timberlake in action last year for Towson University. Timberlake is now a redshirt freshman for Towson this winter after last season’s injury-riddled campaign. (PHOTO COURTESY: Bob Whitney)

By Bob Whitney | @WhitneyBob

In case you haven’t noticed the 2019-20 college basketball season is off and running, highlighted by a nationally-televised doubleheader last evening featuring the top four teams in the men’s basketball preseason rankings: Michigan State, Kentucky, Duke, and Kansas.

For all of us veteran purists, it was hoop heaven, the talent was amazing but the quality of play was spotty at best given such a huge stage on opening night.

That aside, it is my pleasure to pen a weekly hoop column for the hard-working Matt Noonan and his many followers here at Noontime Sports.

I have covered one of the Power Five conferences – the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), to be exact – for the last eight seasons, but this year I will focus on a little bit of everything but the primary focus will remain on all that is happening in New England – and that is a lot!

First of all, check out the Noontime Sports Men and Women’s New England D-III Basketball Preseason Top 10 Polls: (Men’s Basketball | Women’s Basketball)

A few thoughts from the basketball polls.

  • No surprise that Amherst College is perched at the top of both rankings. They have been the gold-standard regionally and a regular participant in the NCAA D-III Tournaments for years.
  • Speaking of Amherst, the men’s program suffered a sudden jolt in September when legendary coach David Hixon (after 42 seasons at the helm) opted to take a non-health sabbatical to deal with some family issues. The big question is can the program move on without Hixon’s leadership?

    Those close to the program feel that with the elevation of trusted assistant Aaron Toomey, who played under Hixon and helped win NCAA titles in 2012 and 2013, the transition should be seamless.

  • A game to watch (and to gauge how Toomey and his squad are managing the transition) is on January 10 when New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) rival Middlebury College travels to Amherst.

ODDS AND ENDS

  • There have been a number of rule changes introduced with the most important one being the extension of the 3-point arc from 17 inches to the international standard of 22 feet, 1 3/4 inches. Although testing of this change in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) last year found little change in shooting percentage, it was felt by the officiating honchos that it would alleviate congestion in the paint by forcing defenders to guard shooters further away from the basket. Stay tuned on this change.
  • All eyes will be pointing to Cambridge, Mass this season to see if the Harvard University celebrated senior class, led by awesome point guard Bryce Aiken, can finally win an Ivy League title, as well as earn an automatic tournament bid to the NCAA Tournament.

    Better yet, the Crimson will have some home-cooking help in March as this year’s conference tournament moves from the storied The Palestra to Lavietes Pavilion, March 14-15.

    The Ivy poo-bahs move to a conference tournament for men and women was a no-brainer – the atmosphere is pulsating and the quality of play is as good as it gets.

  • A shoutout to former Marquette University assistant Brett Nelson who assumes the reins at Holy Cross after Bill Carmody‘s decision to retire from the coaching ranks.
  • Did you know that we have a number of the top coaches in the women’s college game led by the legendary Barbara Stevens, who ranks fourth in wins among college coaches at Bentley University, Harvard’s Kathy Delaney-Smith, Stonehill College‘s Trisha Brown, Springfield College‘s Naomi Graves, and Babson College‘s Judy Blinstrub. If any of you have a daughter that may be destined to play at the college level the price of admission to catch one of these coaches in action will help with a final decision.
  • In my eight years following ACC men’s basketball, I had the privilege to hear firsthand from some of the great coaches in the game, including Coach Mike KrzyseskiRoy Williams, Jim Boeheim, Rick Pitino, and Mike Brey. Buzz Williams was a real stitch in the press room. But most impressive among this elite group of coaches was the University of Virginia‘s, Tony Bennett.

    Obviously, Bennett’s run to the national title was the big news last year but most noteworthy was his recent decision to forego a well-deserved a big raise. Bennett felt that his family was blessed and thankful for what they have and felt that the money would be better spent in funding a program to help athletes transition to careers after basketball. Bennett is destined to be the voice of the ACC once Coach K and Roy retire.

A FINAL THOUGHT

Best wishes to Kristen McDonnell who left the Braintree high school girls basketball program after a ten-year run which included four D-1 state titles and a bunch of sectional crowns. McDonnell is seeking a new challenge as the Norwood high school boys head coach.

Keep shooting. See you next week!

NCAA March Madness: Final Four Wrap Up

By Brian Willwerth

We started with 68 teams.We are down to two.

Gone are the Jayhawks, Patriots, Terriers, Sycamores and Orange.  All that remain are two groups of dogs: a burly bunch of bulldogs from Butler, and a hungry group of huskies from Connecticut. Butler and UConn clinched their spots in the title game Saturday night by defeating VCU and Kentucky, respectively.

We’ll start with the nightcap: a coaching matchup between Jim Calhoun and John Calipari.  The Huskies held on for a 56-55 win. Both teams struggled from the floor. The Wildcats shot just [33%] for the game, while Connecticut was just [1-for-12] from behind the arc.

Still, you can’t talk about a UConn victory without mentioning Kemba Walker. He led both teams in scoring with 18 points, while adding six rebounds and seven assists. Still, the Huskies had to hold their breath as a three-point attempt by Kentucky’s DeAndre Liggins in the closing seconds fell short. Shabazz Napier iced the game with two free-throws at the other end.  Brandon Knight led the Wildcats with 17 points.

This is Connecticut’s third trip to the final.  The last two times the Huskies were there [1999 and 2004] they won the national championship.

Their opponent will be the team that nearly won it all last year. Butler ended VCU’s “Cinderella run” with a 70-62 victory over the Rams. After weathering an early barrage of three-pointers, the Bulldogs were able to cool off the Rams’ hot outside shooters with the type of defense Butler has become known for.  Butler also controlled the glass, out-rebounding VCU, 48-32.

Offensively, the Bulldogs relied heavily on Shelvin Mack, who finished with a team-high, 24 points.  VCU’s Jamie Skeen led all scorers with 27. Butler took a six-point lead into the locker room. The game would stay tight for much of the second half. It wasn’t until the three-minute mark that Butler was able to open up a 7-point lead, a deficit the Rams could not recover from.

Butler returns to the title game for the second straight year. Who could forget the Bulldogs’ appearance in last year’s title game: that last-second heave that bounced off the rim that would’ve beaten Duke.

So it all comes down to Monday night: Bulldogs and Huskies for the national championship.  It should be one heck of a dogfight.

Daily Noontime – March 28, 2011

Hello, Good morning, afternoon or evening and yes, we are slowly wrapping up the month of March, but for all of those who are still experiencing the cold and nasty weather in New England, we’re indeed sorry, but want to at least deliver today’s Daily Noontime, so enjoy!

Headlines:

* The Boston Bruins earned an important win on Sunday against the Philadelphia Flyers, as well as clinched the playoffs for the fourth straight season.

* Brandon Knight was possibly the reason for why the Wildcats beat the Tar Heels on Sunday.

* The Virginia Commonwealth Rams have been quite impressive and now, they’re one win away from their first ever NCAA Division I Men’s basketball championship.

* Chad Ochocinco will apparently not be playing soccer this season despite playing in a reserved game on Monday.

* Baseball and MLB fans are counting down the days, as the season begins this week, but do you know when your favorite team will be playing?

* How good are the Miami Heat? They have been quite impressive these past few weeks, as well as watched their “Big Three” all score 30 points and record 10 rebounds.

Games to Watch:

* Boston at Indiana (NBA) – 7:00pm eastern

* Orlando at New York Knicks (NBA) – 7:30pm eastern

* Chicago at Detroit (NHL) – 7:30pm eastern

* Portland at San Antonio (NBA) – 8:30pm eastern

Video of the Day:

While the VCU Rams have yet to win anything important, they were greeted by fans upon arriving back to campus.


Noontime Sports March Madness Podcast Part II (3/23/11)

The Sweet Sixteen is upon us, which meant that Matt Noonan, as well as his “Jersey Boys,” Kevin Tuve and Chris Hurd got together to discuss the first series of games, as well as predict their Final Four representatives to head to Houston, Texas.

NCAA March Madness Tournament: Day One Updates

Kentucky needed a Knight and shining armor to beat Princeton, 59-57 on Thursday!

Good afternoon and welcome to yet another exciting March Madness tournament. We’ll be providing various updates on the critical games from the first day of the March Madness tournament, enjoy and make sure to follow us on Twitter (@NoontimeSports) for quick thoughts too.

#4 Kentucky 59 – #13 Princeton 57: For moments, especially in the second half, it seemed as if the Tigers were going to go on a run similar to Cornell University in 2010, but less than 30-seconds remaining and the ball in the hand of Kentucky’s freshman guard Brandon Knight scored a beautiful right hand lay up, leaving the Tigers with just two seconds to respond.

Excluding various fouls that were recorded, Princeton took control, as well as recorded various leads throughout the second half, as both squads  seesawed back and fourth. Yet, the Wildcats relied on some clutch three-pointers by freshman forward Terrence Jones and junior guard DeAndre Liggins.

The Tigers went [3-6] during the final three minutes from the field, but also, appeared unable to fend off the Wildcats.

Princeton was led by senior guard Dan Mavraides who scored 14 points, while junior guard Darius Miller led Kentucky with 17 points.

#13 Morehead State 62 – #4 Louisville 61: Morehead State’s senior guard, Demonte Harper may have hit the biggest shot in his career, as his three-pointer with seven seconds remaining in the second half secured an Eagles upset against Rick Pitino‘s Louisville Cardinals.

Harper, who finished the game with eight points, assisted his team by securing three rebounds and assists, but the biggest player in this game had to be Morehead State senior forward Kenneth Faried who recorded a team high 17 rebounds.

While both teams were tied at halftime, Louisville eventually jumped out to a slim second half lead, but continued to struggle at times against the Eagles defense, which constantly forced only one shot on offense during their multiple series. However, Cardinals junior forward Terrence Jennings successful was able to record a slam dunk with a little over a minute remaining the second half, which gave Louisville a four point lead.

After Jennings basket, the Cardinals were held scoreless for the final 80-seconds, as the Eagles senior forward Kenneth Faried knocked down two important free-throws and then blocked the game winning shot to secure the victory.

Morehead State was indeed the first true “March Madness upset,” but certainly, keep an eye on the Eagles, as they will soar into their next game against the winner of Vanderbilt-Richmond.

#8 Butler 60 –  #9 Old Dominion 58: Despite tallying four fouls, senior forward Matt Howard quickly collected a loose ball and scored an easy lay-up to push the Bulldogs past Old Dominion for their first tournament victory.

Both teams constantly seesawed and traded leads throughout the first half, but after the Bulldogs committed a “silly” foul during the closing minutes, Howard would save his team from going to overtime with his heroic rebound and quick basket during the closing seconds.

Butler may have not dominated the stat chart, but their ugly and inconsistent play ended up working, as the Bulldogs move onto the next round where they will face the winner of Pittsburgh-UNC Asheville.

Old Dominion was led by senior forward Frank Hassell led his team with 20 points and collected six rebounds.

#5 West Virginia vs. #12 Clemson 76: The Mountaineers overcame a 16-6 first half deficit and rallied during the second half to get past the Tigers in round one. Junior guard Darryl Bryant led West Virginia with 19 points, as well as finished three rebounds and two assists. He finished [8-9] from the free throw.

West Virginia was clutch from the line, as the entire squad finished [25-31], while Clemson finished [21-26].

Despite trailing for a majority of the first half, West Virginia grabbed the lead during the opening minutes of the second half. The Mountaineers displayed great defense, especially toward the end of the game when sophomore guard Dalton Pepper stole the ball away twice.

Clemson’s junior guard Andre Young led the team with a team high 22 points, while sophomore forward Devin Booker led the Tigers with eight rebounds.

West Virginia has advanced to the next round and will face the winner of Kentucky-Princeton.