Monday, March 16, 2009

Game Time Announced

Per the James Madison website, the first round game of the tournamet game between The Mount and James Madison will be played at 7pm on Wednesday evening. It does not appear that there will be any TV coverage. It does appear that live video will will be available through the James Madison website. However, that has not been confirmed.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Mount Season to Continue

The Mount will play in the inaugural postseason tournament. The Mounties will play at James Madison on Wednesday night in the first round of the tournament.

The Mount and the Dukes did not play this year, after facing each other in each of the previous two seasons. James Madison won in Harrisonburg last year, while the Mount won in Emmitsburg two seasons ago. Mount fans may remember that night as the night a freshman point guard from Charlotte NC burst onto the scene and led the team to a thrilling overtime win.

The Mount finished second in the Northeast Conference this season and lost 48-46 to Robert Morris in the conference championship game and sports a 19-13 record. Madison is 19-14 after losing to George Mason in the CAA Quarterfinals. The Dukes were 9-9 on the season in the CAA, but did have an early season win over the Big East's Seton Hall.

Great to see this team get another game to play.

Selection Sunday Thoughts

....For my Orange fans out there, expect Syracuse to be a 4 or a 5 seed. I'm thinking four, but it could be a five. And with that said, expect them to be in Carolina's bracket. Because it's extremely likely that Pitt, UCONN and Louisville will be the other three #1's. If that is the case they can't play any of those teams until a regional final - so they'll go in the other bracket. Also consider, that even if one of the Big East three is replaced as a one, it will be by Memphis. That would mean the Orange could go into the bracket. But the Orange and Tigers played during the regular season and the committee does try to avoid rematches.

....Teams on the bubble have to be rooting hard for Tennessee today. The Vols play Mississippi State with the SEC automatic at stake. The Bulldogs aren't getting in without a win, so a win takes one at-large away from the bubble teams as the Vols are a lock to play next weekend. So the bubble becomes less forgiving with a Bulldogs win. Could the Bulldogs hold Auburn's fate in their hands. That is the simple way for the committee to handle it. Put Auburn on the line, unless MSU wins and then replace them. Or is it Maryland, St. Mary's, Creighton or Penn State, that is in only with a Tennessee win?

....Not sure I understand the bracketologist's infatuation with St. Mary's. Maybe they deserve to be in. I really can't say yes or no. But at the beginning of the week, most "experts" had them out. Now the field has seemingly shrunk with the A-10 winner and a few other conference surprises and they are in in most projections. All they did was beat Eastern Washington on a neutral floor. I don't get it.

....I'm still expecting the Mount to get a bid. Not sure if they would be considered for the CBI or not. But the collegeinsider seems to be the tourney the Mount would choose if they get an invite and don't get in the NIT. Makes some sense.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Live Blog of Syracuse/Louisville Big East Final

Addressing some rumors

I've seen/heard some rumors started on the internet that the additional postseason tournaments aren't going to happen. That the tournament or the College Basketball Invitational weren't happening. Or maybe one or the other wasn't happening.

I don't really have any good solid information on this. I spoke with a Mount official this morning, I mentioned the collegeinsider, they told me the Mount was still hoping for an NIT bid. But there was no mention of that tournament not happening.

The CBI's website says its field will be announced tomorrow. The website still has links to information for its tournament.

We're hoping this is just a nasty rumor. Nothing other than the rumor makes me believe it to be true. I've done what I know to do to try to find out. I'll pass along any information I receive.

Friday, March 13, 2009

More Basketball

I'm still rubbing the sleep from my eyes. Last night's (this early morning's) thrilling, exillerating, epic between Syracuse and Connecticut had me wide awake way too late last night. And in the end the alma mater pushed forward for a 127-117 - 6 overtime win. It was the longest game in the history of the Big East tournament, the longest game in Big East history for that matter. And it almost didn't happen. Originally, it appeared that Eric Devendorf's improbable three-pointer at the end of regulation had sent the Orange through to the Semis. But upon further review, the ball was still in the hands of the guard from Michigan for a millisecond after the clock hit triple zeroes.

The Orange courageously fought from behind in each of the first five sessions. Ultimately, with both teams on the verge of exhaustion, and 9? players banished to the bench with fouls, Syracuse pulled away in the final overtime.

Just an absolutely incredible finish for the Orange. Jonny Flynn seemed to take control late and despite the great play of AJ Price for the Huskies, Flynn might very well have been the difference. A great win over a very good team. This Orange team shouldn't be an easy out in the NCAA tournament. And at this point, I think they are a 4 seed, nothing worse than a five.

For now the Orange faces West Virginia in tonight's second semifinal from the Garden.

Speaking of more basketball. Expect the Mount's season to carry on in the postseason. Expect them to earn a bid to the Postseason tournament when the bracket is announced on Sunday night.

The tournament seems to have been set up for teams just like the Mount, as it even has a preference for teams from conferences that don't have 1/2 of their members participating in the NCAA or NIT.

So that fits the Mount perfectly. Games in the first year of this tournament are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, but I'm told some games might be pushed to Thursday. Games are played on the home floors of teams, so maybe Knott Arena hasn't seen its final hoops this year. But it would seem more likely that the Mount would be on the road. The tournament also seems to fit VMI and Vermont. Two teams with resumes very similar to the Mount. I'd love to see the Mount play either one. One other interesting possibility a Mt. St. Mary's at St. Joe's opener.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

This one is going to sting for awhile

Robert Morris defeated Mt. St. Mary's 48-46 on Dallas Green's jumper off a loose ball with 2.5 seconds to win the NEC championship and earn the automatic bid. Credit to the Colonials, there isn't much that seperates these two teams, yet in three games this year, they managed to make enough plays to win them all.

I don't really have much to say. I'm still a bit numb.

Some quick thoughts and observations..... seemed extremely fitting that the Colonials won on a garbage loose ball bucket. They won every (or so it seemed) loose ball all night long - and in Corapolis two weeks ago. For that matter that is why I had every confidence in the world that the Mount would win tonight. Because two weeks ago it seemed like every loose ball went there way. It seemed that way again tonight. Maybe there was something to that. sure seemed like we led the whole way.

....The Mount had every chance to win this game tonight. They just didn't make enough open shots. Robert Morris' defense was a factor and forced them into some tough shots. But I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about the open looks that didn't go down. At 40-35 in the second half, it seemed like we had two or three possessions with a chance to extend it and it didn't happen.

....I hope the Colonials go on and represent the conference well in the NCAA tournament. I think they have a chance to be a 14 seed, no worse than a 15.

....Let's hope one of the other three tournaments calls our number on Sunday. I don't want this numbness to last until October. Truly, I think the Tournament is the most likely. I'll try to find out what I can on that in the next few days.

It's ON

For the fourth straight year, the Mount and Robert Morris meet in the Northeast Conference Tournament. This time however, for the first time, its for the NEC championship.

Let's not try to hide from the facts. 12 games against the same team in a four year period makes you rivals, no matter how you feel about the situation. But let's not try to make it sound like this is some sort of friendly rivalry. I'm pretty sure they don't like us, any more than we like them.

It's become heated. There have been near fights. There have been techinals. There have been message board wars. There has been name calling and all the sorts that the you expect from a great rivalry.

Thankfully, it will be showcased on National TV tonight at 8:30 on ESPN2. Find me a seat on the sofa.

The events of the last few days have only added to the rivalry that it is. Four Robert Morris players were involved in an incident between their quarterfinal and semifinal win. Robert Morris has spun the situation to say only one player was involved, when the news reports (and I'm assuming they got their information from the police) said four. Only one player has been charged. I do believe that the situation was somewhat overblown, but I don't believe that only one player was truly involved. It sounds like Robert Morris is truly investigating the case and will make a decision on the player (or players eligibility in the future). It's a tough spot to be in for the coaching and the athletic staff. There are obviously two sides to the story. It sounds like about 1 1/2 of the sides have been told. The first half made the RMU players sound very guilty. Their rebuttal says they are innocent. It seems like maybe it was a very minor incident from my inquiries. And maybe the whole story has been told.

We know that there will be a game tonight. How the circumstances of the last few days will affect that is anyone's guess? It might have provided a distraction to the Colonials, it might have fired them up. It might have provided a sense of security for the Mount, it might have been a distraction. I don't know.

I just hope when the ball goes in the air tonight, we see good basketball and all of that is behind us.

The teams have played twice this year, Robert Morris won back in early January at the Knott Arena 77-70 if I recall, handing the Mount its third straight NEC loss at the time. The two teams met again on the final Saturday of the regular season, and Robert Morris rallied for a 66-63 win.

There isn't much that seperates these two teams. Both are hard nosed defensive teams. Robert Morris may have more presence from the outside, the Mount may have more depth inside.

The Colonials do boast player of the year Jeremy Chappell. The Mount counters with its leader Jeremy Goode. Both have the ability to put their teams on their back and singlehandedly carry them to victory.

But its likely to be the other players who make the difference. Rob Robinson has been RMU's best player in the two wins over the Mount. He has a bundle of moves inside. The Mount must keep him from getting the ball in a position to score. Mezie Nwigwe (Where have we heard that name before?) is one of those guys who you might miss on the floor, but he does a little bit of everything for the Colonials and keeps them together. Bateko Francisco is the NEC Defensive Player of the Year.

Jean Cajou had a huge night in the opening round of the tournament, after winning the MVP last year. Some long range jumpers from him tonight will be needed. Kelly Beidler is a 6-5 wing player, who has recorded several double-doubles on the season. He could be a huge factor tonight, if he keeps his emotions in check. Shawn Atupem is an athletic big man, who has played very well of late. The senior tandem of Sam Atupem and Markus Mitchell will start inside for the Mount and well defend and rebound the basketball, plus they can score around the basket. The contribution from a pair off the bench could be the deciding factor tonight. Pierre Brown doesn't always get a lot of minutes, but he is efficient when he does and provides a spark. Will Holland came up huge in the semifinal win over Sacred Heart. His ability to stretch the defense could be pivotal.

All in all, I expect a big game tonight. A fierce one, where intensity will reign. Truth is, I was not as confident about the Mount's chances this year as I was last year entering the tournament. When folks asked me would they win the tourney again in the last few weeks, I was pretty noncommital. But I always ended my thoughts with...if they get to the championship game and play Robert Morris they will win.

They are both there. And the thought hasn't changed. It says here...the official FANBLOG prediction is that the Mount wins to advance to the NCAA tournament for a second straight year, 68-63.

Enjoy the game. My thoughts afterwards.

The Baltimore Sun looks at the Mount turnaround; 3-8 by the way

An impartial look at Robert Morris' handling of the fight situation

Preview from the Pittsburgh Paper

NEC preview from Pedro Favre

It's Gameday

Just throw the ball up already.

My thoughts on tonight's contest later in the day.

Mount O'Links

The Official preview from Robert Morris

The Recap from Robert Morris' semifinal win

Another Big East tourney preview and a regular season recap

Orioles pitching questions leave a lot undecided

A Q&A with Mount Women's Lax Coach Denise Walton from the Baltimore Sun

Is there really a bubble?

A WCC Championship recap

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

No suspensions from RMU incident

Edited at 12:09 with recent developments from Pittsburgh

The Latest

The incident involves 4 Robert Morris basketball players including NEC player of the year Jeremy Chappell, Ron Robinson, Mezie Nwigwe and Velton Jones being involved in an off-campus incident over the weekend. The news report says Nwigwe was the only player charged at this time.

All were cleared by head coach Mike Rice to play earlier this morning until an investigation into the incident is complete.

We'll have more as we hear anything.

Mount O'Links

Praise for the NEC format

A Big East Preview

The final conference tourney brackets

Monday, March 09, 2009

Game Time Now 8:30

Tip for the NEC championship game between Mt. St. Mary's and Robert Morris has been moved to 8:30 on Wednesday evening.

Some thoughts the day after

.....You have to give an enormous amount of credit to the Mount coaching staff. They nursed four starters through foul trouble and pushed the right buttons. Not to mention the fact, that when they forced Sacred Heart out of the zone in the second half, they posted up both Holland and Beidler for some key buckets.

.....I don't believe the 1800+ attendance for a second. There were a lot more there than that. Guranteed. I know one Mount fan who will give you everything he owns if there were only 1800 there. But let's say there were just 1800 there. That was the loudest that barn has ever been. Period. No exclamation point. It's never been louder. Never. Not for the Ricky Skaggs concert. Nothing. This was the peak. And there were at least 2500 hundred there - at least.

.....Speaking of the crowd. The standing ovation directed towards the team at the timeout with 1:15 left was top notch.

.....Too bad there isn't a bus big enough to take them all to the Sewall Center.

.....I think the winner of the NEC championship is no worse than a 15 seed. Both RMU and MSM have RPI's between 110-120 right now. There are two teams in the field with higher and two others between 110 & 120. Plus the winners from the SWAC, MEAC and Big West will all be higher. In addition, there are several other possibilities out there (America East, Big Sky, Southland, Southern and the Patriot) that will make it a no-brainer. And don't forget the Mount owns a win over American on its floor, and the two teams might be compared.

.....Don't underestimate how important free throw shooting has been. The Mount has missed six shots in each of its first two games - shooting at a 75% clip. Meanwhile, its oppenents have made just 51% and shot 17 less fouls.

Mount O'Links

Here's a nice little website focusing on the conference tournaments

Hoopville wrapping up the NEC semis

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Wrapping up the semifinal win

AP Story

Back to the Championship Game

There were plenty of reasons that could have dethroned the Mount as the NEC champions on Sunday night at Knott Arena.

But a suffocating defense that limited the efficient Sacred Heart Pioneers to 39% shooting and nine field goals in the second half, a key effort off the bench from a junior from Texas, a raucous home crowd and a won't lose attitude were enough for the Mount to pull out a gritty, gutty 68-63 win and earn a berth in the NEC Championship on Wednesday night at Robert Morris.

When star point guard Jeremy Goode picked up three fouls in a span of 5 seconds (the play by play says they all came at the 17:23 mark - and it seemed that way - but I think the final foul came at 17:18) it certainly looked dire for the Mount. The Mount trailed 44-42 at the time of the fourth personsal on the team leader and the momentum had already started to sway to the Pioneers at the start of the half. Goode had scored 12 points in the first half and was creating opportunities for his teammates.

But his teammates stepped up and played nearly 8 minutes without him erasing a deficit that got as big as 4 at one point and turning it into a four point lead when Goode reentered.

A lot of the credit during that run must go to Will Holland. The junior gave the Mount the lead at 47-46 on a big three-pointer with 15:28 to play and the Mounties never trailed again. Sacred Heart did manage to tie the score at 51, but Holland managed to score on two straight trips and the Mount began to build a lead.

That lead got as big as nine with 3:20 left when Shawn Atupem (12 points) made a pair of free throws. But Sacred Heart wouldn't go easily. Ryan Litke buried a three, Chauncey Hardy made a layup, and Casey Hassan scored on a runner to make it a two-point game with 1:16 to play.

The Mount failed to score on its next possession. Ryon Howard had a chance to tie the game but his jumper wouldn't fall and Jean Cajou grabbed the rebound and got fouled. He made one-of-two free throws to make it a 66-63 game. The Mount dodged another bullet when Litke misfired on a three with 12 seconds to play. Kelly Beidler (who led the Mount with 13 points - and played tremendously again) made two free throws off an intentional foul to seal the trip to Corapolis.

Sunday Night Hoops

I'm headed to the game....and you should be too.

Robert Morris took care of business this afternoon. An easy win and no real surprise. They are playing well again.

But the focus today must be on Sacred Heart. The Mount and the Pioneers split a pair during the regular season. The Mount won in January and the Pioneers in December. Sacred Heart has been great since that loss to the Mount, dropping only two games since then. So its another game against another hot opponent.

I think the Mount will be more than ready. I expect Jeremy Goode to have the type of night that we are accustomed to seeing from #1. And Jean Cajou seemed to find a rhythm in the second half on Thursday night. Plus Kelly Beidler who has been sensational in the postseason in his Mount career continues to play well.

The trouble is Sacred Heart has so many weapons and so many guys who can get hot from the outside, like Joey Mundweiler did the other night. Be especially wary of Chauncey Hardy. Corey Hassan is their best player, even though a lot of the attention goes to Joey Henley. Henley is good but its Hassan who can really change a game. He's a 6-4 shooter, so finding the right match could be tough for the Mount. It could be Beidler, it could be Cajou who get the call. The other factors in the SHU win in December were Ryon Howard and Mehmet Sahan. Both had big nights but were pretty well neutralized in the rematch.

I think the Mount wins tonight. I don't expect that it will be nearly as easy as the RMU game was this afternoon. But I think the Mount will either open up space very early and have to fight off a Pioneer rally or open up a close game early in the second half and control from there. I'm looking at a 72-61 final.

Now get to the game.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Waiting for Sunday Night

I like the NEC Tournament's practice of playing games at home. I think it gives things a wonderful atmosphere. Plus it rewards the teams that played well during the regular season.

Problem is...I just hate the time between the games. It seems like the next round will never get here.

But people are excited about tomorrow night. I've got folks calling me and asking if they can still get tickets or if it's a sellout. I hope its a sellout. But I'm guessing seats are still available. I'm also hoping the student section is a bit more fiesty and filled then it was on Thursday.

Three champions punch tickets today. And we wish the best to former Mount point guard Cliff Warren as he tries to lead his Dolphins of Jacksonville into the NCAA tournament. The Dolphins regular season champs in the Atlantic Sun play East Tennessee State.

The other two champions will come out of the Big South and the Ohio Valley. Radford opposes Virginia Military Institute in the Big South duel, while Austin Peay faces Morehead State in the OVC.

The RPI numbers of all of those teams are not quite as good as either Robert Morris or the Mount, in case you were wondering.

Cornell, which wrapped up the Ivy last night (and a bid), is right in line with the NEC twosome on the RPI rankings. My guess is the Ivy champ ends up a higher seed then whoever comes out of the NEC.

I may live blog during the 1st NEC semi tomorrow - or something of the sorts, but we'll see what gets done between now and then.

Thursday, March 05, 2009


We told you that the Mount was going to be pushed in the opening round of the NEC Tournament. We're not sure we even thought the pushing was going to be this hard. Mt. St. Mary's defeated Wagner 72-62 (check the preview score) at the Knott Arena earning a berth in the tourney semifinals on Sunday. The Mount will host Sacred Heart Sunday at 7 in a rematch of last year's championship game. Robert Morris will host Quinnipiac in the other. The Bobcats pulled off the only 1st round upset winning on the road at Long Island in overtime.

The Mount got a huge performance from Kelly Beidler. The junior forward was sensational for the Mount. He got the job done at both ends of the floor and his hustle defending in the backcourt let to a few easy buckets for the Mount and may have easily been the difference.

That is not to downplay the effort of any of the other Mountaineers. Jean Cajou had a couple of huge dagger-like three-pointers and a dunk over top one Wagner defender that will forever go down as one of the biggest in Knott Arena history.

Shawn Atupem was virtually unstoppable inside and may have ended up as the Mountaineers leading scorer. He had at least 16 and might have ended with 18.

Jeremy Goode engineered the offense and had a few key steals for the Mounties. He didn't have the best of nights shooting the ball, but he still did good things for this team. And you have to figure that he'll have a good shooting night real soon.

The inside duo of seniors Sam Atupem and Markus Mitchell did a great job on the boards and helped this team win its fourth straight NEC tournament game.

Pierre Brown and Will Holland came off the bench and provided some quality minutes. Brown hit a big jumper midway through the second half.

This game was close all the way, but really minus an 8-0 run by the Seahawks to close the first half, the Mount pretty much controlled the basketball game after the 10-minute mark of the first half. Still the long range (and we mean LONG range) shooting of Joey Mundweiler kept the Hawks within striking distance all the while. And this game was tied with as little as six minutes to play and maybe less.

Credit to Wagner for a good gameplan and a solid effort, but the champions were not to be dethroned on this night. There were some very key plays down the stretch. Beidler making two big free throws to break a tie, stealing a pass in the backcourt and converting a bucket. Cajou hit a big three at the death of the shot clock late in the second half, and Atupem had a baseline dropstep move that led to some important points.

There was a great crowd on hand at the Arena, that I hope is only surpassed by the crowd on Sunday night. It was a classic playoff game. The Mount got the win. And that is what March is about.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

On the Eve of the NEC

Ok - where to begin?

Let's face it, 29 games ago, all you wanted to do was get to these three games. Because all of the excitement that preceded the previous 29 games was built out of what happened in these three games last season.

Robert Morris is once again the regular season champion - and with that the favorite. I would think most folks would expect the Colonials to win the NEC crown and the automatic berth in the NCAA. But since they weren't the preseason pick and aren't the defending champ, I'm not sure they are as big of favorite as they were a year ago. Last year, they entered with a 13-game winning streak and seemed invincible. This year they seem to have struggled a bit down the stretch. Certainly, they weren't as sharp in February as they appeared to be in January.

The same can probably be said of the Mount as well. They seemed to play very well in mid to late January and then got a little sluggish towards the end. However, the performance against St. Francis PA a little over a week ago was probably the top performance of the season. The Mount enters off the three-point loss at Robert Morris, let us not forget that the Mount lost by three at RMU on the regular season's final weekend a year ago.

The Mount will be pushed in the opener. Wagner was seemingly headed to an 11th place finish the last time they were Emmitsburg. But in over a month, they've rejuvenated. They won their last four including wins over the Mount and Robert Morris. The Mount scored identical 65's in the two games versus the Seahawks. I think they'll need more tomorrow night. They need to get the game into transition and get points that way. And then convert in the half court sets when that is what is left. Justin Drummond had 23 in the win at Staten Island and the Mount must do its best to contain him. Joey Mundweiler is a pure shooter and scorched the nets for 39 over the weekend. The Mount can't give him open looks.

Again, in my estimation it comes down to the pace of the game. If the Mount scores 35+ in each half, it will be a very good night for them. If it is played at a slower pace it could be dicey late. This won't be an easy opener, and I think everyone realizes that. With that said, I expect the Mount to win going away a little bit late, 73-64.

Sunday, March 01, 2009


The Mount went to Robert Morris yesterday in search of the #2 seed in the NEC playoffs. They got it. But only because Quinnipiac beat Central Connecticut. The Mount fell to the Colonials 66-63 in a very entertaining basketball game. The two teams would meet again if the seeds hold in the NEC Tournament back at the Sewell Center a week from Wednesday.

But there is lots to do between now and then. Both teams must win twice. The Mount must first defeat Wagner, who has been beating everyone down the stretch and seems to be firing on all cylinders. The Mount fell to the Hawks on Staten Island just two weeks before Thursday's NEC tourney opener.

Robert Morris draws St. Francis NY in the conference playoff opener. A team that beat RMU in the conference season opener several months ago.

Yesterday, RMU just made more plays down the stretch - and at the same time slowed the Mount's transition attack. There were only 59 offensive possessions in the game. So both teams were fairly effective, mainly because they both did a pretty good job of keeping possessions alive and rebounding offensively.

Ron Robinson was a key factor in that for the Colonials and his tip in late was probaly the key bucket of the game. The Mount limited Colonial wing Jeremy Chappell and he was never really a factor. Kind of makes you worry about what he might do if the two teams meet again.

The Mount did get a long-range effort from Jeremy Goode to try to tie the game with around 8 seconds left but it was not to be.

So now 29 games into the season, where finally where everyone wanted to be three months ago. Playing three games to decide your fate and your NCAA tournament worthiness. The Mount played well enough in stretches during the regular season to believe that it can win three games in the NEC Tournament. RMU played well enough for awhile to believe it couldn't lose.

The Colonials, by virtue of the NEC regular season crown, are guaranteed an NIT bid. I would think that the Mount would likely earn a CBI or berth if it fails in the NEC Tournament, but certainly nothing is a guarantee if you don't win three in a row.

It will be interesting to see it develop.