College Basketball 2017-18

A HOOPS WINTER BLOG: College roundball in the basketball-crazed DMV
A BIG NIGHT FOR LOCAL SQUADS
Feb. 16, 2018
WASHINGTON - This past Wednesday was a good one for the locals, as American, Navy and George Mason all won at home and George Washington won on the road.

Wins have been hard to come by anywhere for AU and GW in the league play.

Tonight is a big one in the Atlantic 10 as ranked Rhode Island plays at St. Bonaventure. GW and Mason certainly hope to avoid URI when the tourney comes to D.C. next month.

Maryland needs to win at home Saturday against Rutgers to have any shot at the NCAA tourney. In my mind that ship has already sailed but people more informed than me feel the Terps still have a shot.

JUAN DIXON LEARNING THE ROPES
Feb. 12, 2018
BALTIMORE - After a last-second loss, and after some minor pushing and shoving between a few opposing players, Juan Dixon tried to play mediator late Monday night at Coppin State.

The former University of Maryland and NBA star, in his first season as the Eagles head coach, met with a possible recruit and some Hampton coaches. He apologized for the delay when meeting with two reporters who covered the 82-79 loss to Hampton in MEAC play.

Coppin State is 5-22 overall and 5-7 in the MEAC. Hampton is 13-14, 8-4 and will head to the Big South Conference next season.

Eagles guard Lamar Morgan had a big night, scoring 30 points and making nine of 17 shots from the field.

BUSY HOOPS DAY IN PRINCE GEORGE'S
Feb. 10, 2018
BOWIE, MARYLAND - It was a busy day for college basketball in Prince George's County, Maryland.

The Maryland men, with a noon tip, got a much-needed win at home over struggling Northwestern.

And about four hours later Bowie State tipped off against Virginia Union following a loss by the Bulldog women to the same school.

The Bowie State men, who trailed by one at halftime, lost 74-52 in a CIAA division contest against Virginia Union. Bowie State fell to 12-12 overall and 7-6 in the CIAA.

CAREER NIGHT FOR GW STAR
Feb. 8, 2018
WASHINGTON - George Washington had lost four games in a row and eight of its last nine in the Atlantic 10 Conference.

But the Colonials got a win here Wednesday night, as Japan native Yuta Watanabe had a career-high 29 points as he made five of seven shots from 3-point range.

GW is 10-14 overall and 3-8 in the conference. Jamir Moultrie, from Bowie, Maryland, had seven points off the bench for La Salle. Baltimore product Terry Nolan, Jr. had 11 boards for GW.

Dr. John Giannini, the head coach of La Salle, told me after the game it is a mixed blessing to watch from afar opposing players such as Watanabe, a senior and all-conference player.

"He represents GW well," said the La Salle coach.

ATLANTIC 10 TOURNEY NEARS;
GW HOSTS LA SALLE TONIGHT
Feb. 7, 2018
WASHINGTON - La Salle freshman guard Jamir Moultrie told me this week he was in seventh grade when he saw the Washington Wizards play in person for the first time.

The Bowie, Maryland resident and former Bishop McNamara High standout is already looking forward to the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament, which will be held at the home of the Wizards at Capital One Arena starting on March 7.

But first La Salle will play at George Washington tonight in conference play. Another member of the Explorers is Johnnie Shuler, a product of Roosevelt High in D.C.

GW is paced by senior Yuta Watanabe, who leads the team in scoring at 14.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per contest. The Colonials are 9-14, 2-8 in the conference while La Salle is 10-13, 4-6.

Then in a few weeks will be the first time the A 10 tournament will be held in the nation's capital, and several of the schools have players from the DMV on their current squad.

That includes two players from nationally-ranked Rhode Island: senior guard Stanford Robinson of Landover, Maryland and sophomore guard Jeff Dowtin, who is from Upper Marlboro and played at St. John's College High. Robinson played at Paul VI High in Fairfax, Virginia.

Look for my story on DMV hoops in the official Atlantic 10 tourney program that will be available at Capital One Arena.

MASON LOSES FOURTH IN ROW
Jan. 31, 2018
FAIRFAX, VA - George Mason lost its fourth game in a row here Wednesday as St. Bonaventure senior guard Matt Mobley had a career-high 35 points.

And his post-game comments were telling.

“The first couple (shots) went in. It was all easy from there. We knew they were not that solid defensively,” said Mobley, standing in the press dining area after the game.

That is not what Mason head coach Dave Paulsen wanted to hear, after he implored his team to play defense in the 85-69 smackdown.

Look for my story in the coming days on Mobley of the Bonnies for his hometown paper in Worcester, Mass.

TERPS TAKE ANOTHER HIT
Jan. 28, 2018
COLLEGE PARK - Michigan State entered today’s game at Maryland ranked No. 6 in the country. But that is not the most impressive thing that jumps off the first page of notes on the Spartans.

MSU entered the game with five players averaging at least 11.9 points and 2.5 rebounds per game: top player Miles Bridges, Cassius Winston, Joshua Langford, Nick Ward and Jaren Jackson, Jr.

The Spartans came back from a 13-point deficit and beat the Terps 74-68 here Sunday before a national television audience.

Maryland is now 15-8 overall and 4-6 in the Big Ten and is reaching the point it will need to win the conference tourney to gain a spot in the NCAA tourney.

A LONG PATH TO GALLAUDET
Jan. 27, 2018
WASHINGTON - Gallaudet University freshman guard Shawn Daniels was born deaf at a military base in Germany when his father was in the U.S. military, he told me here Friday in an interview.

He moved to Georgia as a young boy and grew up in Lakeland, Florida, where he played four years of hoops for Lakeland High.

Look for my story on Daniels in the coming days in the Lakeland Ledger. He is seeing more time of late for the Bison, the only school for the deaf in the United States.

BOWIE STATE WINS A PAIR
Jan. 24, 2018
BOWIE, MARYLAND - At first glance it may have been a concern for Bowie State that guard Tim Hewett scored 30 points here for Chowan on Wednesday.

But he made nine turnovers and had just two assists as Bowie State won 68-63 in CIAA action.

Omari George of the Bulldogs had 19 points, Saiquan Jamison had 14 boards and Ahmad Wilson added 11 points as BSU improved to 9-11 and 4-5 in the CIAA under head coach Darrell Brooks, the former GW assistant now in his ninth season at Bowie State.

The Bowie State women also won, 71-65, despite 28 points from Chantel Roberts of Chowan. Forward Sade Chatman, a transfer from Delaware, led Bowie State with 23 points and 11 boards.

PRANGE HAS HUGE DAY AT GW
Jan. 24, 2018
WASHINGTON - Kelli Prange of George Washington missed six games in a row with a concussion, then played just six minutes against VCU on Jan. 3 before missing the game four days later with rival George Mason.

The 6-foot-5 senior forward from Damascus, Maryland, after scoring 23 points in her previous three games since her second return, had a career-high 36 points at home Wednesday morning as GW beat Rhode Island 65-52 in a rare day game for Field Trip Day for local school-age children.

It was the most points in nearly 20 years for a GW woman hoopster, the fourth most in program history and is the most points scored by an Atlantic 10 woman this season.

Prange entered the game averaging 11.3 points per contest this season. A lot of her points against the Rams came off offensive rebounds. She was 14 of 17 from the field and had 13 rebounds, including six on offense.

“That is the easiest way to get your points,” Prange said of offensive boards. “This is a real big confidence boost.”

The Colonials, who host Saint Louis on Saturday, are 9-10 overall and 4-3 in the Atlantic 10. While the Rhode Island men are ranked nationally, the Rams women’s program is 3-18 overall, 1-7 and has lost games this season by 30, 44, 58 and 39 points.

“Obviously, Kelly was pretty great today,” said GW head coach Jennifer Rizzotti. “We have to be a little more balanced” on offense.

AMERICAN NOW IN THE CELLAR
Jan. 22, 2018
WASHINGTON - It was 2014 when American won the Patriot League men's tournament and appeared in the NCAA field. And the Eagles were 9-9 in league play as recently as 2016.

But AU is now in the Patriot League cellar at 2-7 after a 60-57 loss here Monday to Holy Cross, which improved to 3-6 in league play. It was the first road win for HC in league play and its first overall away from home since the first game of the season at Sacred Heart.

The Eagles lost even though HC made 19 turnovers. AU allowed HC to shoot 59.5 percent from the field and control the boards 31-19. Jehve Floyd of the Crusaders had 22 points and six blocks. AU was paced by Sam Iorio, who had 19 points.

"It is big for us to get a win on the road in the conference,” Floyd said. “It is always hard to get a road win. It is a good win for us.”

TERPS GET A BIG WIN
Jan. 19, 2019
COLLEGE PARK - Two of his large teammates are done for this season with injuries.

But Maryland 7-1 Slovakian Mikal Cekovsky is picking up his game.

Without Justin Jackson (shoulder) and Ivan Bender (knee), Cekovsky had 17 points here on Thursday as the Terps beat Minnesota 77-66 in what some considered an elimination game of sorts since both teams are not projected to make the NCAA tournament by most national experts.

"Ceko is playing the best basketball of his career, which is great," said Maryland coach Mark Turgeon.

Maryland is now 4-4 in the watered-down Big Ten while the Gophers are 3-5. Now Minnesota has to play on Saturday in New York against Ohio State for its third road game in a row.

And Minnesota coach Richard Pitino doesn't like it one bit that he has to give up a conference home game by playing in The Big Apple, the site of the conference tourney that begins late next month.

"I understand we are trying to get (exposure in) the Northeast. I just don’t get it. We are going to make the best of it," Pitino said after the loss at Maryland.

CATHOLIC HAS A STAR IN HOWARD
Jan. 17, 2018
WASHINGTON - Host Georgetown lost big to No. 1 Villanova on Wednesday night, so you can imagine George Washington and George Mason felt slighted as the hosts prevailed in Atlantic 10 Conference play in Foggy Bottom.

But what about Gallaudet and Catholic, a pair of Division III schools just a few miles apart in northeast DC? Both of their men’s teams were also at home Wednesday, and Catholic (9-7) possesses perhaps one of the most overlooked players in the region.

Jay Howard, a 6-4 senior forward from New Jersey, had 22 points in 30 minutes as he made 10 of 15 shots from the field in a 90-64 drubbing of winless Goucher (0-15) of suburban Baltimore.

Howard is now averaging 23.8 points per contest and he had 20 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists in a 76-59 loss at Division I Maryland last month.

Howard could follow in the footsteps of former Catholic standout Chris Kearney and end up playing overseas. The 6-7 Kearney, who played at Westfield High in Northern Virginia, ended his college career in 2013 and then played in Spain during the 2013-14 season.

“I think he stands a very good chance and deservedly so,” CUA head coach Steve Howes, in his 14th season, said of Howard getting a shot at the pro level. “His game is constantly evolving. He makes the right winning plays. I think we have put in some pretty good spots along the way.”

Kearney is the last overseas player for the Cardinals. But the most recent pro is Bryson Fonville, class of 2016, who has been in the G-League with the Texas Legends.

The Cardinals on Jan. 6 beat Juniata – ranked No. 23 at the Division III level – and Moravian on Jan. 10 before losing 103-101 at Elizabethtown on Jan. 13.

“Since the game at Maryland we have played our best basketball,” Howes told me. “For whatever reason it solidified our chemistry. The talent was always there.”

The Gallaudet men (3-12 overall) were not as fortunate Wednesday, as they lost 75-61 at home to Wilson in the first game of a doubleheader. The Bison lost 91-60 to Catholic in non-conference play last month. The Gallaudet women (6-10) led 25-14 after the first quarter to Wilson but also lost, 61-57, on Wednesday in the second game.

TERPS DESPERATE FOR WIN - SO ARE GOPHERS

COLLEGE PARK - Maryland is 14-6 overall. So is Minnesota.
The Terps are 3-4 in the Big 10. And so are the Gophers.
Maryland has lost two big men to season-ending injuries. Minnesota is without suspended big man Reggie Lynch and Amir Coffey, who has a shoulder injury.

"We are both fighting to stay relative," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said here Wednesday afternoon.

Maryland, with three losses in its last four games, will host Minnesota on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. in what could be a possible elimination game if neither team goes deep in the conference tournament.

Both the Terps and Gophers are not projected to make the NCAA tournament at this point by many national experts.

Minnesota snapped a three-game losing streak with an overtime win Monday at Penn State while the Terps lost on two late free throws at Michigan 68-67.

TRIBE TRIES TO BOUNCE BACK
Jan. 16, 2018
The William & Mary men’s basketball team entered this week first in the nation in free throw percentage at 81.9 percent, second in 3-point percentage at 44.5 and eighth in field goal percentage at 51.0.

But the Tribe is coming off a 99-73 loss at home Saturday to Towson, who improved to 13-6 overall and 3-3 in the CAA.

“We got hammered by Towson,” Tribe head coach Tony Shaver said Tuesday. “We did not deserve to be on the same floor with them Saturday.”

William & Mary, which won its first five games in the Colonial Athletic Association, is now 12-5 overall and 5-1 in the CAA. The most recent win was Jan. 11 against James Madison (4-15, 0-6), when the Tribe trailed by 20 at one point and by nine with 50 seconds left in regulation before winning in overtime.

“A miraculous win,” Shaver said.

The Tribe will now host Northeastern (11-7, 4-2) on Thursday.
“They have a lot of guys who can shoot the 3,” Shaver said Tuesday. “We have a tough stretch ahead of us.”

Northeastern is shooting 36 percent from 3-point range. The Huskies have five players with at least 15 3-pointers made this season.

Nathan Knight leads the Tribe with an average of 20 points per game.

JMU is coming off a 61-60 home loss Saturday against Delaware and will host Elon on Thursday and Drexel on Saturday. “I hope we show some consistentcy on the defensive end going forward,” JMU head coach Louis Rowe said Tuesday.

A bright spot for JMU has been Matt Lewis, a freshman guard who had 14 points and just one turnover in 38 minutes against Delaware on Saturday.

EURO-CENTRIC SQUAD HOLDS OFF ALL-AMERICAN
Jan. 13, 2018
WASHINGTON - Dan Burt, the head coach of Duquesne, said something today you don't hear very often - especially from the winning coach.

"She completely out-coached me," Burt said here Saturday afternoon, after his Dukes held off host George Washington for a 54-53 win in Atlantic 10 action. "She did a great job."

Burt was referring to his counterpart, Jennifer Rizzotti, the second-year coach of GW. The former All-American guard from UConn led her team back from a 12-point deficit with 5:15 left in the fourth quarter.

"The press was the big thing," said Burt, explaining what got GW back in the game.

The Colonials (7-9, 2-2 in A-10) had a chance to win after a free throw by Chassidy Omogrosso gave Duquesne (14-3, 4-0) a 54-43 lead with 3.4 seconds left.

But GW's Brianna Cummings (game-high 18 points) lost the ball near the lane and teammate Chyna Latimer got the loose ball but missed a shot near the foul line as the buzzer sounded on a chilly day in Foggy Bottom.

The Dukes boast in their game notes they represent seven countries, with a roster that includes players from Hungary, Serbia, Canada, Finland, Spain, Estonia and the USA.

Burt is from Washington, Pa., and graduated from West Liberty in 1993. But the American, now 102-49 overall in his fifth year with the Dukes, has recruited heavily in Europe. His wife, Kata, is from southern Hungary and played at UNC-Wilmington to end her college career.

Duquesne is now tied with Dayton and Fordham for first in the conference at 4-0. Fordham is at VCU on Sunday while Dayton hosts Saint Louis.

GW, 20-10 overall last season, plays Wednesday at Davidson.

"It was definitely helpful in creating some offense," Rizzotti said of her press down the stretch Saturday.

GW missed nine of 18 foul shots in the game, including six of 14 in the final quarter. Julijana Vojinovic, a guard for the Dukes who is from Serbia, had 17 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds.

"We try to work always on our defense," she said. "We try to give the ball more to the post" players when shots are not falling on offense.

NAVY PREVAILS IN OVERTIME
Jan. 11, 2018
ANNAPOLIS - There was a dodgeball game at halftime that may have been more exciting than the first half when Navy hosted Holy Cross here on Thursday in men's basketball - the teams combined for 14 turnovers in the first 20 minutes.

But Navy and HC provided an exciting finish, as the hosts let a nine-point first half lead slip away before forcing overtime. Navy then dominated the extra session and came away with a 61-56 win for its fifth victory in a row in Annapolis over the Crusaders.

HC has now lost three times in less than 12 months on the banks of the Severn River.

“They just made a couple more plays; a couple of little things here and there,” HC junior forward Karl Charles said. “I felt like we could have (won) in regulation. It is a tough place to play. We know Navy is a tough, gritty team."

Holy Cross freshman guard Kyle Copeland, from Leesburg, Va., had nine points in 13 minutes off the bench. He entered the game having played in just five contests this year for a total of nine minutes with only five points.

“These past few months I have been really working on my game,” Copeland told me. “I have been learning what it takes to get on the court. I am not surprised at all; it is just the result of hard work.”

GREAT HIRES MEET IN RICHMOND
Jan. 9, 2018
RICHMOND - One national writer called the hiring of Mike Rhoades at VCU and Keith Dambrot of Duquesne as two of the best five hires in the country prior to this season.

So the coaches met on Broad Street in Richmond on Tuesday, as the Rams of VCU came back from a 13-point deficit in the first half to beat Dambrot and the Dukes 78-67 before the 110th sellout in a row at the frantic Siegel Center.

The Rams outscored Duquesne 50-31 in the second half and that also happened to be the margin in which VCU outrebounded the Dukes in the game. The visitors from Pittsburgh had won their first three A-10 games of the year but fell to 0-6 lifetime against VCU.

"They are going to win games in this league, for sure," Rhoades said of the Dukes.

Dambrot came to the Dukes after several years at Akron while Rhoades is a former Rams assistant who had been at SMU. The Dukes figure to make noise in the conference in the next few weeks.

"It's not the same old Duquesne, I will tell you that," Dambrot said after the game.

DRAYTON WILL REDSHIRT AT TOWSON
Jan. 9, 2018
Towson men's basketball coach Pat Skerry said today that the Tigers will redshirt freshman Quinton Drayton, a standout last season at Bowie High in Maryland.

“He is getting a lot stronger. He has a chance to be a good player for us. We have so many older guys on the wings; we didn’t think we could get him enough minutes this year,” Skerry told me today on the Colonial Athletic Association coaches conference call.

Drayton is a 6-foot-5 guard who scored 20 points per game as a senior at Bowie High and had more than 1,000 points in his prep career. He played in the Capital All-Star Classic.

TERPS EARN NEEDED WIN
Jan. 8, 2018
COLLEGE PARK - Maryland was coming off a 30-point loss and had lost two key players to season-ending injuries. Then the Terps trailed 24-17 against an Iowa team that has yet to win in conference play. Maryland used a 12-0 run in the first half and put six players in double figures to beat Iowa 91-73.

The Hawkeyes head coach, Fran McCaffery, was ejected late in the first half and assistant coach Sherman Dillard, a Virginia native and former Maryland assistant, took charge during one huddle midway through the second half during a timeout.

“I didn’t want to get tossed. You don’t want to put your team in that position. I am going to fight for my guys. So that is what I do,” McCaffery said. “I am proud of how they competed after that. They fought hard.”

LACK OF MEDIA COVERAGE IN A-10?
Jan. 7, 2018
FAIRFAX - Why doesn't the Atlantic 10 Conference get more media coverage for men's basketball? Just wondering. No, it is not a power five conference but it is not a one-bid league either. Perhaps too many schools are in NFL markets? Maybe that was the case Sunday when Davidson played at George Mason, though no NFL team within 75 miles of Fairfax is in the playoffs this weekend.

There were two media members in the post-game press conference with Mason head coach Dave Paulsen after his team lost 86-59 to Davidson. One of them was a veteran journalist who writes for the Mason athletic website. The other one was me.

As for the game Davidson had 15 assists and just seven turnovers (two in the first half when it mattered) while Mason had 12 assists and 14 turnovers. Davidson star Peyton Aldridge had 17 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists for the Wildcats before a crowd of 3,023.

"We shot ourselves in the foot," said Paulsen, whose team dropped to 7-9 overall and 1-2 in the conference. "Aldridge is a really, really tough matchup."

TERPS LOOK TO BOUNCE BACK
Jan. 6, 2018
COLLEGE PARK - This has been a rough week for Maryland, which played at home Tuesday and then lost by 30 points Thursday at No. 1 Michigan State. The Terps look to bounce back when they host Iowa on Sunday night here in Maryland. One Iowa assistant is Sherm Dillard, a former Maryland assistant and former head coach at James Madison and Indiana State. The Iowa roster includes a product of The Maret School in D.C.

HUERTER SHINES FOR TERPS
Dec. 21, 2017
COLLEGE PARK - The Terps had not played in nine days. And they won't play again until hosting Maryland, Baltimore County on Dec. 29. But Maryland went on a 24-0 run in the first half and dispatch Fairleigh-Dickinson here Thursday as guard Kevin Huerter nearly had a triple-double for Maryland and head coach Mark Turgeon.

WILSON HAS BIG GAME FOR GEORGE MASON
Dec. 14, 2017
FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA - One preseason website predicted AJ Wilson, a 6-foot-7 redshirt freshman, could play a big role this year for the George Mason men's basketball program. That appears to be the case, as the Laurel, Maryland product had eight blocks in a game earlier this season and then on Tuesday had his first double-double in a home game against Georgia Southern.

Mason assistant coach Duane Simpkins, who played at DeMatha Catholic High and Maryland and was an assistant at Towson, remembers watching film online of Wilson when he was a sophomore at DuVal High in Lanham, Maryland. “His athleticism jumped off the charts,” Simpkins told me this week.

Mason head coach Dave Paulsen, in his third season, saw Wilson in person in a tourney in New Orleans soon after he got the job with the Patriots. “I think he is doing a great job,” Paulsen told me. “We are really pleased with him. I think he is starting to scratch the surface with what he is doing.”

MARYLAND WOMEN ROLL
Nov. 21, 2017
COLLEGE PARK - The University of Maryland women lost big two days earlier at UConn. So the Terps took out their frustration against nearby Howard, picked to finish fifth in the MEAC. Maryland went over 100 points in an easy win over the Bison.

WATCH OUT FOR BRUNO OF TERPS
Nov. 20, 2017
COLLEGE PARK - Maryland sophomore Kevin Huerter, the son of a hoop coach, said tonight that freshman Bruno Fernando could be facing a lot of double teams once Big Ten action begins. Fernando started for the third time in five games and had a career-high 18 points in a win over Jackson State. Maryland will begin league play at home December 1 against Purdue, a top 25 team.

HOYAS WITH NEW LOOK, COACH
Nov. 15, 2017
WASHINGTON - There were not a lot of famous people in the stands here Wednesday night for the second game of the Patrick Ewing Era at Georgetown. That was not the case for his first game, when Michael Jordan and others were on hand at Capital One Arena. Georgetown can settle down to business and the Hoyas did that with an easy win over Mount St. Mary's, the defending NEC champ who lost several key players to the transfer route after last season.

HOWARD LOSES AT GW
Nov. 10, 2017
By David Driver
WASHINGTON - Howard lost its opener tonight at crosstown George Washington but the Bison put a scare into the Atlantic 10 Conference squad. And Howard has two big-time scorers from the outside in Charles Williams and RJ Cole, the freshman from St. Anthony's in New Jersey who was playing in his first college game. Cole had 23 points and Williams had 21 in the 84-75 loss. Cole turned down some big-time programs, including Georgetown, according to the Howard game notes. Cole is one of seven freshmen and part of the reason Howard this season hired assistant coach Sean Whalen, who grew up in Laurel and played Division II hoops.
“He has been a head coach before. He knows the whole playbook, which isn’t easy. We made a spot for him; he is valuable. We brought in a lot of shooters this year. He was a great shooter in college," Howard coach Nickleberry told me of Whalen.

GW MOVES ON FROM CAVANAUGH
Nov. 4, 2017
By David Driver
WASHINGTON - A few hours before Tyler Cavanaugh made his NBA debut with Atlanta, his former college team hosted Division II Fairmont State here on Saturday in Foggy Bottom in an exhibition game. The Colonials won 86-63 over FSU, which advanced to the Division II national title game last season.
"We're still figuring each other out," GW head coach Maurice Joseph said. “Overall, I'm happy with some of the things we got to see."
Former Marymount University player D'Ondre Stockman of FSU played a team-high 32 minutes and had seven points and one assist. He made just three of 11 shots from the field, including one of nine three-pointers.
“I didn’t play, obviously, to my potential,” he said. “You are going to have good games and bad games; it happens.”
GW hosts Howard on Friday in the season opener for both teams. The Colonials will be challenged without Cavanaugh, one of the top players in the conference last season.

FILE FROM THE 2016-17 SEASON
TOWSON WOMEN'S COACH RESIGNS, BECOMES
GEORGETOWN ASSISTANT
June 21, 2017
By David Driver
WASHINGTON - Niki Reid Geckeler has resigned as the head women's basketball coach at Towson University, a school spokesperson confirmed today.
The position for head women's basketball coach at the CAA school has been advertised since June 16 at NCAA.com. Towson was 12-18 this past season.
Reid Geckeler became the head coach at Towson in time for the 2013-14 season. Before that she was the head coach at Howard, posting a mark of 85-75 in five years.
She is a former standout at Georgetown and was a team captain for the Hoyas in 1992-93. Georgetown named James Howard as its new head coach on June 14 and he reportedly is working to name his new staff. Howard had been the associate head coach for two seasons at Georgetown.
Howard took over for Natasha Adair, who left Georgetown after three seasons to become the head coach at Delaware in May. Delaware, like Towson, is a member of the CAA.
Another coaching change in the CAA is at UNC-Wilmington, where Karen Barefoot is the new coach after she had been at ODU. One of her assistants is Tina Martin, the long-time head coach at Delaware who was replaced by Adair after last season. Martin had been at Delaware for 21 seasons.
"I am very excited to add Tina to our staff,” said Barefoot in a statement on the school website. “She is a longtime friend of mine and a true professional. Tina’s wealth of knowledge and experience in coaching, especially with her experience in the Colonial Athletic Association, makes her a welcome addition to our program.”
Update: Geckeler was officially named a Georgetown assistant on June 22.
"Niki has been a dear friend to me for many years and she's been in this business for a long time having success as a head coach," said Howard in a statement from Georgetown. "She appreciates what makes Georgetown special and brings a resume as a strong recruiter and defensive-minded coach. Having her one seat down from me on the bench will have a profound and immediate impact on our program."
 
AND SENIOR GUARDS WILL LEAD THEM
March 12, 2017
WASHINGTON - They say that having a senior guard at this time of year is a good omen for teams that want to make a run in the NCAA tournament.

Well Michigan has two of them. Tourney MVP Derrick Walton, Jr. and all-tourney player Zak Irvin combined for 37 points and 12 assists as the Wolverines beat No. 2 seed Wisconsin here at the Verizon Center to win the Big Ten conference tourney title Sunday.

“God is good. We overcame a lot,” Walton said of surviving a plane scare on an aborted takeoff Wednesday. “Had a lot of trials and tribulations. All I can say is God is good. We're here for a reason. I wouldn't want to do this with any other group of guys. This hat feels real good on my head.”

Said Irvin of the title: “It means so much to all of us. All of the adversity that we've been to throughout the whole tournament. We stuck together as a family and got the job done.”

DAYTON WOMEN PUNCH NCAA TICKET
March 5, 2017
Richmond, Va. - The Dayton men's basketball team thinks they are headed to March Madness. But the Dayton women know for sure, after they beat No. 7 seed Duquesne here on Sunday for the Atlantic 10 tournament title to gain an automatic bid. The Dukes became the first No. 7 seed to ever make the title game, but the Flyers prevailed. Dayton won three games in three days, beating a VCU team playing a few miles from its campus Friday, a St. Louis team with the top player in the league on Saturday and then a Duquesne team that played George Washington in the title game last season.

LEWIS ENDS SPECIAL VCU HOME CAREER
March 4, 2017
Richmond, Va. - VCU senior guard JeQuan Lewis was surrounded by family and friends on the court at the Siegel Center here late Saturday afternoon, after his team beat George Mason 72-60 on Senior Day in the regular-season finale.

Nearly a month after he scored a career-high 34 points in a win over Saint Joseph's, the quick Lewis had just one point against Mason. But he had nine turnovers and no assists as the Rams clinched second in the conference.

“At the end of the day I am a point guard,” Lewis told me after the game. “I know I can score. If my team needs me to score 30 I will score 30. Tonight it was all about getting my team involved. I have had my scoring spurts.”

VCU is 24-7 and will play Friday in Pittsburgh in the conference tournament.

Mason is 19-12 and the No. 7 seed and will play Fordham on Thursday in the tournament.

MARCH MADNESS COMES TO RICHMOND
March 3, 2017
Richmond, Va. - The former capital of the Confederacy - not that there is anything wrong with that, maybe - will be a hoops capital for the next 48 hours.

The Atlantic 10 Conference women's tournament begins here at 11 a.m. with hometown and No. 8 seed VCU facing No. 1 seed Dayton. The semifinals are Saturday, also at the Richmond Coliseum, with the title game at noon Sunday on ESPNU.

Saturday you could see parts of four Division I Atlantic hoop games if you tried hard enough. There are two women's games while the VCU men host George Mason at 2 p.m. and Saint Louis playing at Richmond at 4 p.m.

THE MOUNT SURVIVES IN MARCH MADNESS
March 1, 2017
EMMITSBURG, MARYLAND - It is hard to imagine that a conference tournament game between power five teams that know they are headed to the NCAA field could match the intensity here tonight before a loud crowd of 2,405 a few miles south of the Mason-Dixon line.

No. 1 seed Mount St. Mary's, playing on its home court in the quarterfinals of the NEC tournament, held off No. 8 Sacred Heart 76-73 to advance to the semifinals at home Saturday against Robert Morris. Junior Robinson, at 5-foot-5 the shortest player at the Division I level, had 22 points and four assists for The Mount.

Mount redshirt junior guard Charles Glover, who had played just one minute, came in with 1.5 seconds left to inbound the ball under the visitor's basket. The Mount made one of two free throws after that and a long 3-pointer was off the mark at the buzzer by the SH. "That is my role. I am the closer," said Glover, who is from Bowie and played at Gonzaga with Nate Britt of North Carolina and Kris Jenkins of Villanova.

The Wildcats and Jenkins play on Saturday at Georgetown in the regular-season finale. But I will be in Richmond for the Atlantic 10 Conference's women's tournament and at VCU for the game with George Mason.

MARCH MADNESS COMES TO MARYLAND
Feb. 28, 2017
SOMEWHERE IN THE OLD LINE STATE - March will roar in like a lion - with college hoops close behind.

Post-season Division I basketball will come to Maryland on Wednesday, March 1 as No. 1 seed Mount St. Mary's will host No. 8 Sacred Heart in the first round of the NEC men's tournament in Emmitsburg.

The Mount roster includes six players from Maryland and a seventh, sophomore guard Elijah Long, went to John Carroll near Baltimore. He is averaging 14.8 points per contest. Long had 22 points, seven assists and six boards in the regular-season finale against St. Francis Brooklyn as The Mount ended up 14-4 in the NEC. All three figures were above his season averages.

The Mount head coach is Jamion Christian, who is from Virginia and is a former assistant at William & Mary and VCU.

Sacred Heart also has a local connection: redshirt junior De'von Barnett is from Waldorf, Maryland and played at Riverdale Baptist in Upper Marlboro. He has started 27 games and is scoring 7.3 points per contest.

Then on Thursday the U.S. Naval Academy - the No. 4 seed out of the Patriot League - will host No. 5 seed Holy Cross in the first round of their tournament. It will be a rematch of a few weeks ago when host Navy beat Holy Cross 60-47 in regular-season play on Jan. 28.

The Crusaders feature all-league player and senior Malachi Alexander, who is from nearby Bowie, Maryland. He had several family and friends at the game at Navy in January and the same should be true this week.

PANIC TIME FOR MARYLAND?
Feb. 25, 2017
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Could No. 24 Maryland miss the NCAA tournament? That seemed impossible to even consider a week ago. But in the past six days the Terps lost at Wisconsin and then fell at home to Minnesota and, on Saturday, to Iowa. Maryland has lost three games in a row for the first time this year. That number could grow to six if the Terps fall apart and lose Tuesday at Rutgers, at home Saturday to Michigan State and then in their first game in the conference tournament. That is hard to fathom, and the Terps should be assured of an NCAA berth even though they will fall out of the top 25 on Monday.

FRESHMAN FOLLIES FOR TERPS?
Feb. 22, 2017
COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND - Was this bound to happen? No. 24 Maryland starts three freshmen and for most of this season they have performed very well. In a loss at home here Wednesday to Minnesota, the trio of Anthony Cowan, Kevin Huerter and Justin Jackson combined to make 10 of 33 shots while the defense allowed 55 points in the second half. "We've been playing great all season and we just can't panic right now," said guard Jaylen Brantley, a junior. Maryland will host Iowa on Saturday after the 2001 Final Four team and 2002 national title team are honored.

ROAD WOES FOR WILLIAM & MARY
Feb. 16, 2017
HARRISONBURG, Va. - William and Mary entered play here Thursday with a 1-6 mark in CAA road games and a 2-11 mark overall this season away from Williamsburg. Then the Tribe went out and lost in overtime to James Madison, which has struggled no matter the setting this year. Was this the most frustrating road loss of the season? "I think they have all been frustrating," said Tribe standout Daniel Dixon, who had 22 of his 29 points after halftime.

TERPS BENCH COMES THROUGH
Feb. 11, 2017
COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND - The Maryland bench outscored the Ohio State reserves 33-0 on Saturday as the Terps broke a two-game skid with an 86-77 victory. The three Ohio State bench players combined for no points and six fouls in a combined 36 minutes. A pair of freshmen guards led Maryland, as Anthony Cowan of Bowie had 19 points and Kevin Huerter had 18. Junior point guard Melo Trimble was held to 11 points. “That kid doesn’t struggle,” Ohio State head coach Thad Matta said of Trimble. “Those guys stepped up. We wanted Cowan to make shots and sure enough he did.” Maryland plays Wednesday at Northwestern while Ohio State is at Michigan State on Tuesday. "Shots were falling today," Huerter said. "Sometimes it comes down to who makes shots late in the game."

TOWSON IS ON A ROLL
Feb. 9, 2017
TOWSON, MARYLAND - The hottest Division I team in the state of Maryland is not the Terps. It is Towson, which won for the eighth time in nine tries with a win at home Thursday night against Hofstra in CAA action 69-65. The Tigers are now 8-5 in CAA play this year.
“I really challenged them at halftime about our defense," Towson head coach Pat Skerry told reporters. "It was just a phenomenal effort defensively. I also thought Eddie Keith came up big for us on the boards. He had a couple of man-sized rebounds for us tonight. It’s different guys on different nights every night.”

VCU DOES IT AGAIN!
Feb. 8, 2017
WASHINGTON - You can't make this stuff up. VCU senior guard JeQuan Lewis, from a small-town in Tennessee, stepped up big again as he made two free throws with 0.4 seconds left as the Rams beat host GW 54-53 on Wednesday night. On Saturday, Lewis made a free throw with 0.5 seconds left at St. Bonaventure to send the game into overtime and VCU eventually won.
GW appeared to have won the game when Yuta Watanbe hit a 3-pointer in the closing seconds. But Lewis was fouled on a sneaky inbounds play as the Rams kept their at-large NCAA berth alive.

TERPS LOOK TO BOUNCE BACK AGAIN
Feb. 4, 2017
COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND - Maryland freshman guard Kevin Huerter noted that the last time the Terps lost at home they then won seven in a row. Maryland will look to do more of the same after a rare conference home loss here on Saturday, as Purdue made two free throws with 2.1 seconds left for a 73-72 setback. Maryland was up by 12 points midway through the second half but went nearly the last eight minutes of play without a field goal. The Terps play Tuesday at Penn State, then host Ohio State on Saturday.

HOYAS COME UP BIG
Jan. 25, 2017
WASHINGTON - Georgetown head coach John Thompson III began his postgame press conference Wednesday night at the Verizon Center with a twist.
"I've heard a lot of people do this, but I never have. But I just want to give God the credit and thank him for the win," said Thompson, who then got a slap on the shoulder from graduate guard Rodney Pryor. The Hoyas beat Creighton 71-51 for just the second conference win for Georgetown this season.

MARYLAND CONTINUES TO IMPRESS
Jan. 24, 2017
COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND - Maryland took care of Rutgers here on Tuesday night as the Terps began the week ranked No. 22 in the country. It may be awhile before Maryland drops out of the top 25, like they did after it beat American at home in the season opener back in November. The Terps start three freshmen to go with junior point guard Melo Trimble. But you get the feeling that even if Trimble leaves for the pro ranks after this season Maryland will be just fine next season with the trio of Kevin Huerter, Justin Jackson and Anthony Cowan as the Fabulous Frosh Trio.

GEORGETOWN CONTINUES TO STUMBLE
Jan. 23, 2017
WASHINGTON - A season of misery continues for the Hoyas of Georgetown, and the schedule doesn't get any easier. The Hoyas lost Sunday at Xavier and Georgetown is now 1-6 in Big East play this season. Georgetown hosts Creighton on Wednesday and plays Saturday at Butler, so a mark of 1-8 in conference play is entirely possible. I spoke last week with Otto Porter, Jr., a former Georgetown star now with the Washington Wizards, and he said he speaks regularly with Hoyas head coach John Thompson III. Porter said it is tough to watch his former program struggle but couldn't point to one specific reason way the Hoyas have fallen.

MARYLAND GETS A BIG HOME WIN
Jan. 10, 2017
COLLEGE PARK, Maryland - The Terps held off Indiana 75-72 here on Tuesday night in a game that had the feel of a Big Ten of NCAA tourney game. The Terps had lost in their last home game, against Nebraska, but had won at Michigan on Saturday. The Hooisers have now lost three of four and fell out of the top 25 on Monday. Maryland began the year in the top 25 but fell out after the first week.

A memorable game in Baltimore suburbs
Dec. 19, 2016
CATONSVILLE, Maryland - Maryland, Baltimore County was averaging a respectable 82.2 points per game in its first 10 contests. The Retrievers certainly rose to the occasion at home Monday against The Citadel, which entered the contest leading the nation at nearly 102 points per game. UMBC came away with 120-111 win in double overtime - the most points ever scored by UMBC in a game. The previous best was set in the 1970s against Division III Gallaudet. At a few points in overtime each player on the court had scored at least 10 points.

Cekovsky improves his game at Maryland
Dec. 13, 2016
COLLEGE PARK, Maryland - Terps junior forward Michal Cekovsky averaged less than three points per game as a freshman and sophomore. Now he is averaging more than 10 points per game for Maryland, which is 11-1 after a win at home against Jacksonville State on Monday. The Terps are off until facing Charlotte on Dec. 20 in Baltimore.

Terps off to unbeaten start
Nov. 29, 2016
COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND - Maryland is undefeated going into its home game tonight against Pittsburgh in the ACC/Big 10 challenge. The Terps lost four standout players to the pro ranks - Jake Layman and Diamond Stone were drafted by the NBA, Robert Carter, Jr. is in Italy and Rasheed Suliamon is in the D-league - but junior point guard Melo Trimble and three freshmen have carried the load so far.

Hoyas off the radar in New York
Oct. 11, 2016
NEW YORK - Georgetown head coach John Thompson III told me today he has never had a fifth-year transfer. The Hoyas have one now, and he will be expected to step in and be productive right away.

Trimble attracts attention
Oct. 13, 2016
WASHINGTON - Maryland junior guard Melo Trimble, from nearby Upper Marlboro, was named all-Big Ten earlier this week. Then on Thursday he met the media at the Big Ten media day at a hotel in upper northwest.

Bio

David Driver is a native of Harrisonburg, Virginia and played baseball at Turner Ashby High and Eastern Mennonite College (now University). He graduated from EMC in 1985 with a degree in English and a minor in journalism. He has lived in the Washington, D.C. area for nearly 25 years and was the first sports editor of the daily Baltimore Examiner and for nearly 10 years was also the sports editor of Laurel (Md.) Leader, now part of the Baltimore Sun Media Group. He is now a full-time free-lance writer and is the main correspondent for The Sports Xchange, a national content provider for UPI/Reuters, in the coverage of the Washington Nationals. He also covers major college basketball in the Baltimore-Washington region for The Sports Xchange and in the past covered college and pro sports for The Associated Press as a free-lancer. Read more

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Hazelbaker comes through in a pinch

April, 2017

By David Driver
For the Ball State University athletics website
Used with permission

Jeremy Hazelbaker // Sarah Sachs/Arizona Diamondbacks By David Driver/Special Consultant

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The late baseball Hall of Famer Ted Williams once said "I think without question the hardest single thing to do in sport is hit a baseball."

Jeremy Hazlebaker, 29, a former Ball State standout, takes that a step further when discussing the role of a pinch-hitter in Major League Baseball.

"I firmly believe it is the hardest thing to do in sports," he said, standing his locker in the clubhouse of the Arizona Diamondbacks during a recent road trip to Nationals Park.

But Hazelbaker has become adept at the role as a pinch-hitter and key reserve outfielder for the Diamondbacks.

This comes after he made his Major League debut in 2016 while tying the single-season team record with four pinch-hit home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals. He hit .235 with 12 homers in 114 games with the Cardinals last season.

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From Millbrook to Georgia Tech to James Madison, Marcus Marshall chases his NFL dream

December 11, 2017

By David Driver
For the The News & Observer
Used with permission

Millbrook’s Marcus Marshall (21) finds an open hole in Leesville defense on Oct. 31, 2014 at Leesville Road in Raleigh. Olen C. Kelley III newsobserver.com HARRISONBURG, VA.

When Marcus Marshall decided he would transfer after two seasons at Georgia Tech, the Millbrook High graduate was determined to get it right this time.

“I am not going to make the same mistake again,” he said of the recruiting process.

While both of his parents attended James Madison, where his father Warren had a stellar Hall of Fame career as a running back for the Dukes, the school in the scenic Shenandoah Valley was not a slam dunk for the Raleigh running back.

For one, he attracted interest from the University of Iowa, a power five conference member just like Georgia Tech.

But the pull of JMU – a Football Championship Subdivision stalwart and 2016 national champion – proved too enticing, due in part to the fact he would not have to sit out a year since he would be moving down a level.

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