Perhaps the most amazing thing about a streak like Vermont’s is taking perspective when it finally ends. The Catamounts had the longest current win streak in the nation (15), hadn’t lost a regular season conference game in more than two years (33 games), and had the country’s second-longest home win streak nationally (22, and would have been tops if Vermont had won, as Cincinnati lost later in the day to Wichita State).
But it was a poised, veteran, well-coached Hartford squad that came to Patrick Gym and finally wiped all those streaks off the board with a 69-68 upset in front of a sellout crowd of 3,168. While the Hawks hope the ultimate culmination will come in the America East finals in three weeks, this win will show the national crowd just how far Hartford has come since posting a 19-46 record the last two seasons (and just 8-24 in America East).
Maine and Hartford have been in Division I basketball for a combined six decades (Maine joined in 1977, Hartford in 1984), and have a grand total of zero NCAA Tournament appearances between them, so while many coaches and programs talk about “upholding the tradition”, what do you do when there’s not much to work with?
Maine has had just one winning record in its last 12 seasons (2009-10), but there’s a little to talk about there, as Dr. John Giannini – who went to the Sweet 16 with La Salle in 2013 – went 24-7 in 1999-2000 before they lost at Mike Brey and Delaware in the America East semifinals. Giannini had one more 20-win season in Orono, losing at Vermont in the conference final in 2003-04, before heading to Philadelphia.
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.)
WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – The ball moved quickly, everyone seemed to touch it, extra passes were made, and – most importantly – shots were falling as Quinnipiac was rolling Tuesday night at intrastate rival Hartford.
At one point, the Bobcats were 8-12 and then 10-16 from three-point range, and after Gio McLean drove with ease to the hoop and scored, Quinnipiac led 60-47 with 10:30 left and appeared to be cruising to its second straight victory, even without its best post player, Chaise Daniels.
But the cruise hit the proverbial iceberg at that point. Possessions that didn’t end in turnovers finished wih rushed shots at the end of the shot clock. Hartford alowly started to gain momentum and scored 14 points the rest of the way. Quinnipiac showed a lot of guts and Gio McLean hit an eventual game-winning shot with 1:16 left to give it a 68-66 road win despite scoring just eight points in the final quarter of the contest, and – coupled with a win at Canisius Saturday – may tell us plenty about the mental makeup of the Bobcats going forward (certainly about McLean, more on him later).