These conferences have an average Adjusted Efficiency Margin between 6.00 and 8.00, which is roughly equivalent America East or the Big Sky or maybe even the Big South. Continue reading
WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – Bill Carmody and turnovers don’t get along much. So much so that Carmody’s Northwestern teams – even against Big 10 competition – did a remarkable job of not giving the ball away without at least getting up a shot. How good? Here are the national turnover rate ranks for Northwestern from 2006-07 to 2012-13: 17th, 20th, 34th, 30th, 5th, 7th, 37th. That’s pretty damn good, no matter what the competition.
(Some irony in the fact that turnovers were not the reason Milan Brown was canned after last season. Holy Cross finished 14-16 and 8-10 in the Patriot League, but were 50th in offensive turnover rate.)
WORCESTER, Mass. – The past, of course, is an extremely poor place to live, but if you’re a mid-major fan, particularly the Ivy League, you couldn’t help but root for Bill Carmody at Northwestern. For 12 seasons, he tried mixtures of magic potions and illusions that seemed to rival the Copperfields and Blaines of the world, trying to get the Wildcats to their first ever NCAA Tournament (one of five with St. Francis Brooklyn, Army, The Citadel, and William & Mary who have been a Division I institution since the beginning in 1939 and never gone to the NCAAs).
While it was tough sledding, Carmody always had an upset or three in him, and from 2010-2012, looked to have gotten over the hump. In each of those three seasons, Northwestern ranked in the top 30 nationally in offensive efficiency, with a deliberate style that almost never turned the ball over, and seemed to miss shots even less (as he did at Princeton while going 92-25 in Ivy games from 1996-2000). He won 20 games in 2009-10 and 2010-11, but just fell short of the NCAA bubble. The Wildcats started 10-1 in 2011-12, but finished 8-10 in the Big Ten, the last two losses coming in overtime to ranked Michigan and by a pair to Ohio State, who eventually ended up in the Final Four. The verdict, once again, was NIT.
Soon after that (two seasons later), Carmody’s sleeves were out of tricks and he was fired.
The Basketball Tournament is a crazy combination of Hoosiers, $1 million, ESPN and a ton of basketball dreams.
For a few minutes Thursday evening, it looked as if the Patriot League quarterfinals might have little drama. All four home teams led by multiple possessions at halftime, and three extended their advantages to double digits early in the second half.
But this year’s Patriot League has found excitement at every turn, and its postseason is no exception. One game went to overtime, another was decided in the final minute, and the only true blowout came between teams with identical records in the 4-5 game. A recap:
#1 Bucknell 90, #8 Holy Cross 83 (OT): Malcolm Miller wouldn’t end his career quietly. After a lethargic first half, the Crusaders trailed by as many as 16 points in the second before their star senior turned it on. Miller had four traditional three-point plays in a four-minute stretch, making seven straight shots to lead the visitors back in the game. After blocking two shots on one possession, Miller made two free throws to give Holy Cross the lead at the two-minute mark.
The Crusaders led by three with 30 seconds to play, but as he’d done all night, first-team all-conference guard Chris Hass answered. Eric Green, one of the league’s best defenders, bumped Hass from behind, turning Hass’ short floater into a game-tying three-point play. The Bison pulled away in overtime to avoid becoming the first 1-seed to bow out before the finals in Patriot League Tournament history.
Hass matched a career high with 32 points, while Miller set his own with 34 in his career finale. In contrast to his 30-performance at Boston U. last week, Miller got most of Thursday’s points inside. Nine of his 11 field goals came in the paint, and even with an inefficient overtime period, he needed only 24 shooting possessions to get his 34 points:
#2 Colgate 72, #7 Navy 62: Aided by garbage-time free throws, the Raiders scored 1.26 points per possession after the break to advance to the semifinals. Matt McMullen had a double-double in the second half alone, totaling 18 points and 15 rebounds, as Colgate advanced to its first semifinals since 2009.
Rookie Bryce Dulin scored a career-high 16 points at an opportune time, all in the second half, but the Midshipmen never pulled closer than six points down the stretch. After blocking a tournament record eight shots against Army, Will Kelly didn’t swat a single ball on Thursday. Limited by foul trouble, Kelly played only 23 minutes, and Navy was outscored by 12 points with him on the bench.
#6 American 68, #3 Lehigh 62: The Mountain Hawks will have a long offseason to stew on their first-round exit: As a home favorite, they lost by two possessions while shooting 7-16 from the free-throw line. Lehigh was actually one of the nation’s better foul shooting teams this year, ranking in the top 50 at 73%. Tim Kempton played like the league’s Player of the Year, scoring 20 points on 9-9 shooting and grabbing 11 rebounds, but his teammates went 3-14 from three-point range.
Like many coaches, American’s Mike Brennan has shortened his rotation down the stretch; unlike many coaches, Brennan’s rotation was already limited to seven players, and is now down to six. Jesse Reed and Pee Wee Gardner each played the full 40 minutes, enough time for the former to score 24 points and the latter to notch 10 assists (against one turnovers). Marko Vasic posted a double-double despite spending 82 whole seconds on the bench.
#4 Lafayette 89, #5 Boston U. 64: After Holy Cross torched the Terriers with 13 three-pointers in their regular-season finale, Boston U. coach Joe Jones was frustrated with his team’s defensive inconsistency. “When you look at our defensive field goal percentage in our nine [conference] wins, we’ve held teams to 37%. In nine losses, it’s 48%,” he said. “We’ve been really up and down all year, just in our ability to be focused and connected.”
Thursday was another down night for the Terriers, as Lafayette posted a 77% effective field goal percentage, including a Patriot League Tournament-record 16 threes, en route to a blowout victory. No team expects to allow 55% shooting beyond the arc, but surrendering 29 attempts (many of which were open) is inexcusable against a team ranked in the top 10 nationally in three-point accuracy. Point guard Nick Lindner (5-8 from three) led the way with 23 points as one of five Leopards in double figures.
Lafayette avenged a similarly lopsided loss at Boston U. in last year’s quarterfinals. More remarkably, the Leopards scored their 89 points while only attempting two free throws, becoming the first team to do so since at least 2010.
Semifinals (Sunday, March 8):
#4 Lafayette at #1 Bucknell
#6 American at #2 Colgate
Final (Wednesday, March 11):
#6/2 vs #4/1, at higher seed
Favorites reigned in the Patriot League on the first night of college basketball’s postseason:
7. Navy 56, 10. Army 52 — The Midshipmen missed their first nine three-point attempts on Tuesday, but Zach Fong swished the 10th, wide open off a kick-out from Brandon Venturini, to break open a tied game in the final minute. Navy held on for its third win over Army this season and its first postseason victory since 2001.
A day after being named first-team all-conference, Worth Smith scored just four points on 2-15 shooting, his worst offensive performance of the season. But Smith contributed on defense, collecting 11 rebounds, three steals and three or four additional deflections. Will Kelly (13 points) and Tilman Dunbar (11) picked up the offensive slack in a low-scoring battle.
Army, picked second in the preseason poll, managed just .83 points per possession to close an underwhelming season. The Black Knights also struggled from three-point range (4-20) and had 11 shots blocked. A Patriot League Tournament-record eight of those came from Kelly, none bigger than this denial of Tanner Plomb (complete with a staredown):
8. Holy Cross 62, 9. Loyola (MD) 45 — In a less thrilling contest, the Crusaders jumped out to a 15-4 lead and led wire-to-wire. Loyola shot poorly from two-point range (16-42), worse from beyond the arc (2-15), and even struggled from the free-throw line (7-16). The hosts weren’t outstanding on offense, but 1.05 ppp were more than enough, led by matching 10s from Malcolm Miller, Matt Husek, Cullen Hamilton and Robert Champion.
Holy Cross has all the makings of a dark horse — the Crusaders have talent, they’ve now won five of seven, and they beat each of the top five seeds once this season. Four of those wins came at home (and the fifth in nearby Boston), however, and Holy Cross will play its remaining games on the road, where it went 2-7 in league play.
1. Bucknell vs. 8. Holy Cross
4. Lafayette vs. 5. Boston University
3. Lehigh vs. 6. American
2. Colgate vs. 7. Navy
At Agganis Arena on Saturday afternoon, it didn’t seem to matter where Malcolm Miller was shooting from. A tough floater in the lane, or a bank shot from a crafty angle? Both good. An NBA-range three-pointer through contact? Straight and pure. A step-back 26-footer, with the shot clock low, over Cedric Hankerson’s outstretched arm? Nothing but net. Continue reading
Trying to make sense the Patriot League this season is surely a lost cause by this point, but a more constructive pursuit may be explaining how inexplicable it really is. Continue reading