Conference tournaments are moronic. In one bid leagues, they make the entire regular season often useless. There is something to be said for dumping during the year, to save your energy and not show others, your whole cards. But in the greed driven world of college hoops, they are a very sad reality. The Colonial figures to come down to favored UNCW vs College of Charleston. However, watch out for the brilliant Tony Shaver. Wm and Mary lost much talent from last year, but Shaver finally got this team rolling. In the last 5 weeks, William & Mary had easy wins over both UNCW and C of C. I always root for the Pride. I do believe that College of Charleston will win the tournament.
Delaware vs Hofstra – These 2 opened up conference play in Newark with Hofstra winning 58-56. Delaware rallied from 12 down in the 2nd half but Frosh guard Ryan Daly who had 20 pts and 15 rebounds missed a 3 at the buzzer, allowing the Dutchmen to escape. Hofstra was without starting guard Brian Bernardini. In the rematch Hofstra, without key big man Rokas Gustys, went on a 20-2 2nd half run to wipe out an 11 pt halftime deficit and ultimately won 73-65. Clearly Hofstra is the more talented club.
I believe Martin Inglesby would get high marks for the job he did in his first year at Delaware. The team fought every game. They defended well throughout the year. I believe he will make Delaware hoops relevant again. There is a bright future in The Colonial, if the league can stay together.
Joe Mihalich is in his 4th year at Hofstra. He is a very successful coach, a winner for sure. He is one of the few coaches who does not bombard us with Defense at all costs speeches. His teams tend to play fast. They may not even make the extra pass to get the best shot. His players do enjoy playing for him. His teams do win.
With the evil 30 second clock, you will see fewer and fewer upsets as the underdog can not control tempo as well, they can not frustrate the more talented team. It is exactly what the greed driven NCAA wants. I prefer the 45 second clock for college hoops but that is for another day. Delaware will for sure try and limit possessions. Hofstra will not. Delaware got bludgeoned in their last 3 games. They seemed to run out of gas. Meanwhile, Hofstra finally got healthy for several games. They ended the year playing their best ball, winning 3 of their last 5, with the losses to Coll of Charleston and UNCW, the top 2 teams in the league. It would seem like Hofstra has all the edges here. They won both during the season, they have a solid experienced coach and they were playing their best ball at seasons end, perhaps not coincidentally as the team go all players healthy. However, tournament games tend to be played in the half court, which is to Delaware’s liking. I also believe the time between games will allow Delaware to get their legs back. The time may also hinder the great rhythm, Hofstra had found. I think Delaware will keep this close for a long time, but the lack of talent, will ultimately get them, at least this year.
Hofstra 55 Delaware 49
Drexel vs James Madison – JMU and Drexel also opened conference play vs each other, with JMU manhandling the Dragons 78-67. The rematch I felt was Drexel’s game, but they put in a very poor effort and lost 70-64. Both teams are led by 1st yr coaches. Louis Rowe took over for the terrific Matt Brady and in spite of a ton of returning talent, was unable to find a point guard. The team had its moments, but could not overcome too many turnovers and poor shots. They were disappointing.
Drexel came out of pre conference with some surprising good results. However when conference began, Drexels good results ended. The team then appeared to get over the proverbial hump, when playing their 4th game in 8 days, they lost to heavily favored Towson in 2 overtimes and then playing their 5th game in 10 days should have won in Hofstra. They overcame all that disappointment when they returned home with rest and blew out Wm and Mary. Things were looking up. However, injuries and some strange play contributed to Drexel losing their last 5.
As I look at this game, I keep going to back to that brilliant stretch of basketball that Drexel played. Led by an ever improving freshman point guard, Drexel played to a very high level, before the late season implosion. The time off, should get them healthy again. Drexel also has a big coaching edge, still important in tournament games. Drexel’s defensive short comings will not be exposed by offensively challenged JMU. Drexel’s “A” game is one that JMU could not match. If Drexel does not let JMU’s physicality bother them, they could have a big enough lead where, even they can not gag it away. Yep, it is that time of the season.
Drexel 78 JMU 61