College basketball teams hitting playoff stride?
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
It hasn’t exactly been the winter of discontent for local college basketball teams – but then again, everyone loves a winner.
And as is always the case, some always win more than others.
With the post-season soon underway on courts across the area, here’s an update on the local teams and where they currently stand.
Holy Cross, as the area’s Division I standard-bearer, has managed a .500 record for the season at 13-13, and a 7-5 mark in the Patriot League. Currently in 4th place in the league standings, a win over Army Wednesday night at the Hart Center would guarantee the Crusaders a home game in the quarterfinal round of the upcoming Patriot League tournament.
Under the guidance of second-year head coach Milan Brown, Holy Cross is currently riding a four-game winning streak going into the Army game. The Crusaders will wrap up their regular season with a game at Colgate Saturday afternoon, and the Patriot League playoffs to follow on Wednesday, February 29.
Wednesday night’s match-up with Army is the 74th all time meeting with the Black Knights. It’s a series dominated by the Crusaders over the years (56-17), but Army won at West Point on January 25th 74-68. Plus, Army has won two of the last four times they’ve played Holy Cross at the Hart Center in Worcester. However, during the current four-game win streak, defense has been the calling card. The Crusaders have held opponents to under 55 points per game, 38 percent shooting from the floor and just 27 percent from three-point range. Watch For: Justin Burrell. The freshman point-guard scored 15 points to lead Holy Cross to a win over Bucknell last Saturday, and has been very steady running the offense. He’s had solid games against Lafayette, Navy and at Providence.
The Greyhounds are picking up the Pace – almost literally – after beating Pace 67-62 on Saturday. With the win, Assumption has won four of five to move to 12-13 overall on the season (10-11 in NE-10 play), and they will play at American International in Springfield Tuesday night at 7:30. The Hounds need the win to stay in the hunt for the NCAA Division II NE-10 playoffs. Watch For: Senior guard Kevin Donahue leads the team in scoring at 16.6 points per game, and junior forward Tim Beinert (14.4 ppg) leads in rebounding at 7.9.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
It has been a solid season for the Engineers, who finished the regular part of their schedule with a win over Clark 75-54 last Saturday. With an 18-6 overall record (8-4 in the NEWMAC standings) WPI is currently seventh in the most recent NCAA Division III Northeast rankings, and holds the #2 seed in the NEWMAC post-season tournament that begins this weekend. WPI will play third-seeded Springfield in a semifinal Saturday at 3:00 pm at MIT, while top seed MIT will play either Wheaton or Babson at 1:00 pm Saturday. Watch For: Seniors lead the way for the Engineers, with Matt Carr (16.7 points per game), David Brown (7.9) and Jamie Shannon (9.2) among the top four scorers for the team. Carr also leads WPI in rebounding at more than eight per game.
Clark’s Cougars wrapped up their 2011-12 season with the loss to WPI last Saturday, finishing the season at 12-13 overall, 4-8 in conference play. It’s the second straight year for Clark to miss out on the post-season, which is a first for the program since beginning NEWMAC play. Seniors Travis Curley and DJ Bailey led the team in scoring, junior Tucker Esborn stands as the leading returnee for next season (7.4 ppg, 4.3 rebounds). The Cougars pulled off wins at Worcester State, at Endicott and Wheaton, while beating Springfield in double overtime late in the year, and dropping a 63-60 overtime decision to top-seed MIT on February 11.
Worcester State won eight games overall (8-17) during the regular season, five in conference play (5-7 MASCAC), under Coach David Lindberg. Watch For: The Lancers are paced by sophomore forward Robert Hunter (St. Louis, Mo.), who averages 16.1 point and 10.5 rebounds per game, and Hunter will lead the Lancers in their quarterfinal playoff matchup with MCLA Tuesday night at 7:00, at Lancer Gymnasium in Worcester. The winner will get top-seeded Salem State (18-7, 10-2 MASCAC) Thursday night at Salem State. Salem has won eight of the last 12 conference tournament titles, and 15 of the 22 Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference crowns overall.
Becker’s Hawks beat Mitchell College 87-49 last Saturday, putting the cap on an outstanding 21-4 season by finishing unbeaten at 16-0 in New England Collegiate Conference play. The Hawks extended their overall winning streak to 15 games, and clinched their second straight undefeated season in conference play. Becker has now won 35 straight NECC regular season contests, and has earned the top seed and the right to host the semifinals and finals of the NECC Championship on February 24th and 25th. Watch For: Senior forward Terrance Favors leads the Hawks at 17.7 points per game.
Anna Maria's men's basketball team has been seeded sixth in the upcoming 2012 GNAC Championship. The Amcats will travel to Johnson and Wales in Providence Tuesday for a 7:00 pm tip-off. AMC finished the regular season with a 12-13 overall record and 10-8 in conference play. The Wildcats, seeded third, completed the season also at 12-13, with an 11-7 conference mark. Watch For: Worcester’s Hugh Daye was named the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Rookie of the Week for the week ending February 19th. Daye averaged 15 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals in a 2-0 week for the Amcats.