Archive for November, 2012

A true opening night in college hoops. It just feels right!

The ability to swing around the dial and find it on any of the ESPN networks, NBC Sports, or down the road is a great feeling. We’re in an age where you can kick on the laptop and watch games on demand. For those that want to, the average hoops fan can be smarter than ever. Good times, folks.

Seven corners of the  Summit Octagon+1 got activated Friday night, sans Western Illinois, who kick it off Saturday night, and the Coyotes, starting Wednesday. Otherwise, how about be bypass the Yogi jokes at Indiana and quickly stroll through some of the takeaways from Friday’s scores? Plus, the league gets some national love in the night’s premiere match.

 

(At) Seton Hall 75, UMKC Kansas City 36 – Oh no.

Last season was not a good one for Matt Brown’s team. He watched Reggie Hamilton, a transfer from the Kangaroos, become the nation’s leading scorer while his team produced some fairly inept results in a lot of categories. This team wasn’t picked at the cellar of the league this year despite that, but, uh, this just wasn’t a good upward indicator.

Seton Hall? Big East team, but not exactly a world beater. Nate Rogers, a DePaul transfer, couldn’t provide a scoring spark for Brown. Neither did Trinity Hall (three points), who they’re counting on to be a big scorer on the wing this year. Against a more prestigious team, it’s understandable to cough up the ball, acceptable to get out-rebounded. But shooting 3-for-15 from distance and the free-throw line? For the sake of RPI, improvement will be hoped for.

 

Oakland 96, Albion 62 – After perhaps some closer-than-anticipated margins in their exhibitions, this one looked more like an opener at the O’rena that a team looking to contend needed to appear as.

Guard Travis Bader scores points (26)? Check. Point guard Duke Mondy, taking over for last year’s leading scorer in the nation, Hamilton, getting steals (3)? Check. Heck, lots of players got steals. Oakland had 14 total.

I’ll have more about Oakland getting steals and their philosophy this year in this space or elsewhere shortly, but things looked good, especially minus Raphael Carter, who suffered a deep bone bruise and likely will be back at some point before Oakland heads to East Lansing on Nov. 23.

Usually, Greg Kampe has the best quotes at Oakland post-game conferences, or just period at the program. Instead, Bader had the best one tonight (c/o @PaulKampe on Twitter), talking about Oakland’s upcoming road trip: “I love going into other people’s homes and giving them hell.”

 

IUPUI 67, Utah Valley 54 – Good win at the Gym in the league’s lone afternoon contest. This is more what you want to see from a team that might not contend, but is counting on some new pieces to fill the void.

John Hart, a transfer guard from Purdue, provided some senior zest. He led all scorers with 19 points. Mitchell Patton, a 6-foot-9 junior interior player, gave the Jaguars 15 points and seven boards.

It took a while for IUPUI to try and click last year, with Alex Young adjusting to be the Lone Ranger and carry a heavy scoring load. I think he got it figured out a little better as the season progressed, but all the same, the parts never quite clicked and the bounces just never fell their way. I’m not necessarily convinced this team is a contender, but it shouldn’t be as tough for second-year coach Todd Howard, and I think they’ve got a good chance with some more depth to slide in right behind the big names in the conference.

 

Nebraska-Omaha 77, Northern Illinois 64 – The new neighbor in the league picked up their second win in as many years against the Huskies, so that’s nice. Even better at their new place, the Ralston Sports & Event Center. Welcome!

Let’s not get carried away: Former Michigan State assistant and current NIU head coach Mark Montgomery was giving 20+ min. to guys I scouted in high school and are being pressed into roles they’re definitely not ready for, but that’s what happens when you pile up 20-loss seasons.

Still, with Mitch Albers gone, returning Mavericks like Alex Welhouse (13 points) got the job done, and they shot pretty well from the line, too (23/31). Turnovers were a concern (18 to just 10 assists), so they’ll need to take better care of the ball if they hope to get things done at Texas Tech next week.

 

North Dakota State 93, Valley City State 47 – At least it was a short bus ride about 30 min. west of Fargo after this one for Valley City State (yes, had to Google Maps that). The Bison used a definitive 20-0 run to put this one to rest quick.

Despite the competition, lots of positives for NDSU. They missed just one of their 12 attempts at the charity stripe, dominated on the glass (38-12), and limited turnovers. Look, the Jackrabbits are getting a lot of the widespread hype, and for good reason. But the gap is small between the two, and everyone knows this is pretty much a one-bid league that’s likely decided in Sioux Falls. If Mike Felt (23 points) and some of the supporting cast can contribute effectively, things are going to get even better for Saul Phillips, who gets nearly all these guys back next year, too.

 

Auburn 61, Fort Wayne 50 – I know this team didn’t want to have to lean on volume shooting for senior guard Frank Gaines as much this season, and allow him to be more selective/effective. Hopefully for Gaines, things get easier. The guy can score in a variety of ways, but it wasn’t enough against Auburn.

Gaines was 10 of 18 from the field and finished with a game-high 32 points. But the Mastodons collectively minus Gaines? Just five makes, 34 attempts. That’s rough.

It’s going to sting, because this is probably one that Fort Wayne could’ve used to really build some momentum in what continues to be a tough transition since Dane Fife departed for Michigan State. They’re another team that’s got a number of new pieces, so it’s hard to fault them. They’ve got one of the easier non-conference schedules (Notre Dame looks to be the toughest opponent), so things should be a little easier until league play starts. What they really need is consistent interior scoring, but they did a decent job of rebounding from the looks of things, so that’s a start.

 

Alabama 70, South Dakota State 67 – An early chance to score a victory for the league was at hand here, and give the Jackrabbits a lot of credit. They came out early, and it was nearly all Jordan Dykstra and Nate Wolters. SDSU head coach Scott Nagy had the plan: We’re collapsing, you make a jumper. It worked, but that wasn’t even what got the Tide going. They cranked up the pressure, generated turnovers and started attacking the rim. SDSU was getting beat from the backdoor cuts.

Each team made their runs in the second half, and SDSU may have been ever-slightly the better team in this one. Maybe it was one of those times that the Jackrabbits coughed it up with a swipe from behind from a ‘Bama defender. Regardless, Trevor Lacey nets a tough 3-pointer at the buzzer, so it’s just one play that ends up the difference. Great game, too bad for the Summit collectively.

I talked to a player last season about Wolters’ ability to shoot from deep after his numbers fell from the year before. He said he thought he was never as good as his numbers that year had indicated, and I agreed. For Wolters to re-establish himself as a quality 3-point shooter would go a long way for him (this year and for his draft prospects), and SDSU. Well, Wolters supposedly worked on it in the off-season, and from the naked eye, it looked good Friday night. From the box score? Better. He made five of his six attempts from beyond the arc. A more dangerous Wolters means a tougher SDSU team, so let that sink in.

Also, multiple NBA scouts in attendance watching Wolters, particularly keeping an eye on Nate’s defense. Hard to say too much, as Wolters moved around the zone frenetically.

 

P.S., not a good day for The Departed: Both Oral Roberts and Southern Utah defeated tonight.

Can’t promise these as being regular, but as always, I’ll have nuggets on Twitter, and you can hear the analysis on-air: WXOU will have Oakland’s next regional game at Michigan State.