Three Thoughts: Vermont 85, Niagara 67

UNCASVILLE, Conn. – There’s no time for what could have beens for college basketball coaches and teams, but there has to be at least a moment or two where Chris Casey and Niagara fans wonder the last couple of seasons.

Part of that isn’t reasonable, but consider this partial list of players who started their careers at Niagara and are still eligible to be playing with them starting with Juan’ya Green and Ameen Tanksley, both at Hofstra, and both first-team preseason All-CAA picks for the Pride, who are also picked to win the conference. It wouldn’t be their first regular-season title, of course, Niagara won the MAAC regular season three years ago before Joe Mihalich left to go to Hofstra and took Green and Tanksley with him.

That team (which went 19-14, 13-5 in the MAAC) also included then-freshman T.J. Cline, who showed plenty of potential and has blossomed into a stud … at Richmond of the Atlantic-10, a big man who can hold his own inside and step out to hit shots as well. That doesn’t take into account, Tahjere McCall, who played decent minutes as a freshman and now starts at Tennessee State.

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Three Thoughts: Bryant 71, Prairie View A&M 58

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – It was a tale of two halves for Bryant Friday night in the semifinals of the 2K Classic at the Chace Athletic Center.

In Act I, the Bulldogs (2-1) obliterated a weaker opponent in Prairie View A&M (which entered No. 348 in KenPom) to the tune of a 23-point halftime lead. It ballooned to as much as 29 early in the second half before things started to go wrong in Act II, especially on the offensive end. Bryant was never seriously threatened (although close, the Panthers never got to within single digits), but the sloppiness was concerning for a Bryant team that wants to contend for an NEC title and its first NCAA Tournament berth in March.

Or was it?

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(photo courtesy: Siena Athletics)

Three Thoughts: Siena 76, Radford 62

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Siena was perhaps the biggest disappointment in the MAAC last season. Coming off a CBI title in Jimmy Patsos’ first season in Albany/Loudonville, the Saints couldn’t get out of their own way, almost literally, in an 11-20 campaign.

Perhaps the biggest riddle was that the personnel wasn’t all that much different. Yet Siena mysteriously went from 78th nationally in defensive efficiency to a nightmarish 334th (there are only 351 Division I teams). What the heck happened?

Patsos and his team had six months to ponder that question and if Friday’s game against Radford is any indication, they have found some answers. The Saints opened the 2015-16 at Duke and Wisconsin, who only happened to play each other for the national title last April, so it was hard to get too much of a gauge off those contests.

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Three Thoughts: UConn 85, New Hampshire 66

STORRS, Conn. – Every mid-major team that schedules a “guarantee game” always dreams of pulling the stunner, not only collecting the money for agreeing to play on the other team’s court but beating them there as well. With good reason, as we’ve seen already this season, it does happen from time to time. Continue reading