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Northeastern Still Winless After Weekend With Umass-Lowell

November 9th, 2014

By: Josh Brown

Five different River Hawks it the lamp Saturday night, leading the University of Massachusetts-Lowell (6-1-2, 4-0-1 in Hockey East) to a 5-0 win over struggling Northeastern (0-7-1, 0-3-1 in Hockey East).

The teams, who tied 3-3 on Friday night, usually have a history of playing close games, but on this night it was all River Hawks.

“I thought it was a game of boys versus men,” said Northeastern coach Jim Madigan. “They were men and we were boys.”

Derick Roy made the start for Northeastern, continuing to fill in for the injured Clay Witt, who missed his sixth consecutive game with an upper body injury. Freshman Jeff Smith got the nod for Lowell, earning his first collegiate shutout.

“When a goalie gets a shutout in Hockey East, it’s obviously very strong,” said River Hawks coach Norm Bazin. “I thought he had a solid game.”

After a scoreless first period, Michael Fallon got on the board, scoring on a five-on-three power play to give Lowell the 1-0 lead. Fallon, who was standing in the slot, picked up a rebound and was able to jam it past the outstretched Roy.

Northeastern had a chance to tie the game when Ryan Rosenthal was awarded a penalty shot midway through the period, but he was stopped by Smith’s blocker to preserve the lead.

Later in the period, freshman C.J. Smith gave his team a two-goal advantage, again on a power play, taking a Dylan Zink pass and beating Roy to get his second goal of the season.

“We own the ability to be the dumbest team right now when we’re down a man,” said Madigan.

Less than four minutes later, the River Hawks started to run away with the game when Michael Colantone gave Jake Kamrass a one-timer that he shot into the back of the net to make it 3-0.

Lowell continued to pour it on in the third, scoring a short-handed goal at 8:28 thanks to a Joe Gambardella breakaway, set up when Jake Suter poked the puck away in the neutral zone.

Suter got a goal of his own, his first of the season, at 19:29 in the period to give the River Hawks the 5-0 win.

“It’s a good sign that guys are contributing,” said Bazin, “and we’ll see if we can keep that going. I thought it was a well-played hockey game. They’re a great opponent, this is a historic rink, and we’re glad we came out with two points.”

Madigan, whose team continues to struggle early on, laid the blame on everyone after the loss.

“We need to be better top to bottom, coaches, players, if we’re going to compete in this league,” Madigan said. “They just pounded us, took it to us. They out-skated us. They wanted the puck more. They imposed their will more on us. They were more physical.”

“And they just grind you and grind you, and we didn’t want to make the sacrifice or commitment to playing that type of game.”

This article can also be found on uscho.com…Follow Josh Brown on Twitter @josh_brown31

jbrown The Dog Pound

CAA Preview: Hofstra Pride

November 7th, 2014

By Dan McLoone

Head Coach – Joe Mihalich (2nd Season)

Last Season – 10-23 (5-11, Colonial Athletic Association)

Losses – G Zeke Upshaw, F Jordan Allen, F Darren Payen, F Dan Steinberg, G Chris Jenkins, G Adam Savion, F Stephen Nwaukoni

Newcomers – G Malik Nichols, G Juan’ya Green, G Ameen Tanksley, F Rokas Gustys, F Andre Walker, F Ibrahim Djambo, G Brian Bernardi

Just one year after being picked to finish last in the CAA, the Hofstra Pride find themselves in a completely different position. With a major roster overhaul that includes the addition of five transfer players who are now eligible to play, Joe Mihalichs’s squad is now projected to finish third in the CAA and have a realistic shot at making some big noise in the conference.

Key to the Pride’s resurgence will be redshirt junior guard Juan’ya Green, who sat out last season after transferring from Niagara. Without even playing a game in the CAA, Green has been named to the preseason All-CAA First Team. In his last season of action at Niagara, he averaged 16.5 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. Coming along with Green from Niagara is fellow redshirt junior guard Ameen Tanksley, who averaged 11.3 points per game in his last season. The two transfers will look to reestablish the chemistry they had with Mihalich, who was their head coach at Niagara for their first two seasons in college.

Just as crucial to the success of the Pride will be redshirt senior guard Dion Nesmith, a preseason All-CAA Second Team selection. Nesmith is the team’s best returning player and will be expected to up his scoring production from last year’s 13.3 per game to make up for the graduation of guard Zeke Upshaw (19.8 points per game in 2013-2014).

Also returning from last year’s starting five are senior forward Moussa Kone and sophomore forward Jamall Robinson. Kone is the teams default rim protector and rebounder, and will look to improve on his averages of 7.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game from last year as the graduation of Stephen Nwaukoni frees up more minutes in the post.  The 6’5” Robinson will improve on last year’s 9.5 points per game thanks to the transfer of the similarly built forward Jordan Allen to Sacred Heart University.

The Pride will offset their losses with three other transfers: junior guard Malik Nichols from South Plains, sophomore guard Brian Bernardi from Southern Methodist University and senior forward Ibrahim Djambo from Clemson. Hofstra will also boast a tall two-man freshmen class comprised of 6’9” forward Rokas Gustys and 6’10” forward Andre Walker.

Bottom Line - The Pride will be led by the dynamic backcourt of Nesmith and Green, who have the talent to give opposing defenses headaches. The development of Robinson and Kone into dominant post players could push Hofstra past the likes of Northeastern or William & Mary. The worst case scenario sees the team fail to gel in their first year and finish in the middle of the pack, but Hofstra has the talent to be serious contenders for the CAA title.

WRBB Sports Basketball

CAA Preview: Drexel Dragons

November 3rd, 2014

By Justin Littman

Head Coach- Bruiser Flint (14th Season)

Last Season- 16-14 (8-8, CAA)

Losses- G Chris Fouch, G Frantz Massenat, G Stevan Manojlovic, F Goran Pantovic, G Jake Lerner, F Dartaye Ruffin

Newcomers- C Sooren Derboghosian, G Sammy Mojica, F Austin Williams, G Rashann London, F Tyshawn Myles

After a disappointing, injury-riddled 2013-14 season, the Drexel Dragons are looking for better results this year. It may be difficult, as the Dragons have lost three starters to graduation, including their top two scorers in Chris Fouch and Frantz Massenat, as well as leading rebounder Dartaye Ruffin. Additionally, they will be without sophomore point guard Major Canady, who is out for the season with a right ankle injury.

Fortunately for the Dragons, 6-6 guard Damion Lee is set to return. A redshirt junior, he played in only five games last year before an ACL tear ended his season. He averaged 17.1 ppg as a sophomore in 2012-2013, and if he’s healthy could contend for CAA Player of the Year.

Aside from Lee, the Dragons return guard Tavon Allen and senior forward Kazembe Abif. Coach Flint will also need to rely on young front court players Rodney Williams and Mohamed Bah, who will play big minutes this season.

Drexel will also hope to get production from some of their newcomers. Freshmen guards Rashann London and Sammy Mojica figure to get some playing time this season due to the lack of depth in the backcourt. They also add center Sooren Derboghosian, a senior transfer who played sparingly at UCLA. Additionally, they will hope that senior guard Freddie Wilson can finally blossom into a reliable role player off the bench and give the Dragons needed minutes in the backcourt.

Bottom Line- Drexel’s two leading scorers have graduated, and this young team is only going to go as far as Damion Lee can take it. Picked by coaches to finish fourth in a weak CAA, they could easily finish lower if Lee doesn’t return to form. The lack of depth at the point guard position is extremely concerning, and it will likely cause problems for Bruiser Flint all season.

WRBB Sports Basketball

Quinnipiac Sweeps Northeastern, Huskies Fall to 0-6

November 2nd, 2014

By: Josh Brown

HAMDEN- The Northeastern Huskies (0-6-0) set a new program record following their 3-2 loss to Quinnipiac (3-2-1) Saturday night at High Point Solutions Arena. The defeat marked Northeastern’s worst start in program history. Unfortunately for the Huskies they added on to the feat, loosing 4-3 to Quinnipiac Sunday afternoon.

“It seems like the same pattern is happening the last three games,” said Huskies coach Jim Madigan after Saturdays game, “and this being the fourth game where we played well enough, done some good things, but haven’t found a way to get the win.”

Derick Roy got the start in both games for Northeastern, with Clay Witt still nursing an upper body injury. The sophomore stopped 57 of the 61 shots he faced on the weekend.

“I thought he played hard,” said Madigan, “I thought he played well. He’s given us a chance to win a hockey game.”

Quinnipiac drew first blood on Saturday, netting two goals less than a minute apart by junior Travis St. Denis and sophomore Devon Toews midway through the second period to give the Bobcats a 2-0 lead.

Less than two minutes later Garret Cockerill beat Quinnipiac goalie Michael Garteig on the power play to cut the deficit to one. The Bobcats would get one back on the man-advantage at the end of the period via Andrew Taverner to make it 3-1.

Northeastern would  not go down without a fight, as junior Kevin Roy got his first goal of the season jamming away at a puck in the crease midway through the third.

“You’re hoping that this opens the floodgates for him,” said Madigan. We certainly need him and Szmatula, and some other guys to score…we need to make more hockey plays in and around the net.”

Unfortunately for the Huskies, Garteig stood tall denying the Huskies of a tying goal, and giving the Bobcats the 3-2 win.

Although the Huskies had a tough time getting pucks in the back of the net, that is not all Madigan wants his team to focus on moving forward.

“If you focus to much on scoring than you forget about the other parts of the game that are important to your success,” Madigan said. “D-zone coverage, neutral zone transition, neutral zone defense. It’s playing a full 60 minutes.”

The Huskies were able to get out to a better start on Sunday, thanks to a pair of Mike Szmatula goals to give the team a 2-0 lead after the first period.

A chippy second period, featuring a combined 13 penalties between the two teams (7 on Northeastern) resulted in Quinnipiac outscoring the Huskies 3-1.

A pair of Landon Smith goals tied the game at two. 31 seconds after Smith’s second Ryan Rosenthal lit the lamp to make it 3-2 Huskies. Quinnipiac was able to send the teams to the locker room tied when Taverner scored with 1:07 left in the period.

Another chippy period went in the Bobcats favor when Soren Jonzzon scored the game winning goal five minutes into the period to make it a 4-3 game.

Despite a couple of chances for the Huskies late in the game, Garteig was able to stand tall, leading Quinnipiac to the win.

“We let some discipline get away from us in the second period,” Madigan said. “It’s not where we want to be. It’s not where we drew it up, but our records our record…still a lot of confidence in that room.”

Umass-Lowell is next on the schedule for Northeastern, as the teams will play a home-and-home with the Riverhawks beginning Friday nigh in Lowell. The game can be heard on WRBB.

jbrown The Dog Pound

CAA Preview: College of Charleston

October 31st, 2014

By Ben Goossen

Head Coach- Earl Grant (1st Season)

Last Season- 14-18 (6-10, CAA)

Losses- Johnathan Burroughs-Cook , Chad Cooke, Judson Hall, Willis Hall, Theo Johnson, Nori Johnson, Anthony Thomas

Newcomers- Evan Bailey, Cameron Johnson, Nick Harris, Donovan Gilmore, John Eck, Tim Branin II

First year coach Earl Grant has his work cut out for him as he attempts to lead his College of Charleston team to a better finish in 2015. The Cougars went 6-10 in conference play last season, en route to a sixth place finish in the CAA.

Grant steps in to lead a young team that experienced a great deal of upheaval over the summer. In August president Glenn McConnell announced his decision to fire head basketball coach Doug Wojcik. The decision came after a month long investigation into allegations from players and coaches that Wojcik was verbally abusive. Grant spent the last four seasons as an assistant coach under Brad Brownell at Clemson. During his time at Clemson, Grant was key to recruiting and player development for the Tigers, personally signing 10 of the 15 players recruited by Brownell’s staff.

Grant inherits a squad that looks largely different from the team that took the court last season. The Cougars lose seven players total and two of their top five scorers from last season in Willis Hall (12.3 ppg) and Anthony Thomas (7.0 ppg). With only two seniors on the roster, the incoming freshman class will have a chance to make an early impact.

The team will look to lean on seniors Adjehi Baru and Anthony Stitt. Named to the Preseason All-CAA Second Team for the second year in a row, Baru had great success during his 2013-2014 campaign. The forward from the Ivory Coast averaged (9.0 ppg) and ranked seventh in the CAA in rebounding (7.5 rpg) and fourth in blocked shots (1.4 bpg). The defensive stopper will look to take his game to another level in order to make up for the lost offensive production of Hall and Thomas. A preseason All-CAA Honorable Mention in 2013-2014, Stitt was one of two Cougar players to start all 32 games last season. As the second leading scorer (10.0 ppg) and the leader in three-pointers made (55), Stitt will be the main offensive threat for the Cougars.

Anthony Stitt and Canyon Barry should provide a significant deep threat this season. However, unless the team can establish another knockdown shooter early on, the Cougar’s offense may stagnate as opposing defenses lock down on Baru close to the basket.

Bottom Line- The team has been projected to finish sixth in their second season as a member of the CAA. Coach Earl Grant has great pieces in Adjehi Baru and Anthony Stitt, however the team’s depth remains an issue. This team has the talent to compete, but youth and inexperience could hold them back in 2015. Expect another middle of the pack finish for this Cougars in 2014-2015.

WRBB Sports Basketball

CAA Preview: James Madison

October 29th, 2014

By Sam Davidovich

Head Coach- Matt Brady (7th Season)

Last Season- 11-20 (6-10 CAA)

Losses- G Charles Cooke, G Andrey Semenov, F Taylor Bessick, G Christian Pierce, F Tom Rivard

Newcomers- Winston Grays G, Joey McLean G, Dante Sterling G, Hari Hall F, Matt Risse G

Coming in to the new season, the JMU Dukes are projected to finish slightly higher than last year, sliding from 7th place up to 5th. This looks to be an uphill battle, as the team may struggle to find leadership without any seniors to provide a locker room presence and take over in clutch moments.

Because of this, Brady will have to rely on 6-4 junior guard Ron Curry and 6-5 junior guard Andre Nation for veteran leadership. Combined, these two averaged 27.5 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 4.01 assists per game last year, something they will have to replicate and perhaps even improve upon. The backcourt will be adding another solid player this year, 6-2 junior guard Winston Grays, a transfer from Cincinnati State. He averaged an impressive 20.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 2.0 steals per game.

Let’s not forget the other transfer player, 6-4 guard Devontae Morgan. As a sophomore in 2013-14 at Butler, Morgan appeared in 14 games while scoring 25 points with a .435 shooting percentage. Unfortunately, he will be sitting out this season due to NCAA transfer rules.

Andre Nation and forward Tom Vodanovich have also been disciplined for an altercation between the two that occurred off-campus recently. Coach Brady has decided that Nation will sit out during the team’s preseason scrimmage, the November 2nd home exhibition and the first five games of the regular season. Vodanovich will have the same punishment, but only miss two of the first regular season games.

Bottom Line- The team has been projected to finish in the top five this year, moving up two places from where they finished last year. If the teams juniors (Nation and Curry) can replicate their play from last year, new additions such as Grays and the four incoming freshman can mix well and early, and the players keep their heads on straight, that is nowhere near out of the question.

WRBB Sports Basketball

CAA Preview: Towson Tigers

October 27th, 2014

By Mark German

Head Coach- Pat Skerry (4th Season)

Last Season- 25-11 (13-3, CAA)

Losses- Jerrelle Benimon F, Rafriel Guthrie G, Marcus Damas F, Mike Burwell G

Newcomers- A.J. Astroth G, Alex Gavrilovic F, Byron Hawkins G, Eddie Keith F, Jordan McNeil G, Mike Morsell F, Arnaud William Adala Moto

With three seasons under Pat Skerry’s belt as Towson head coach, the Tigers are looking to replicate their successful 2013-14 season in which they finished second in the CAA. It will be a difficult task, as four starters have left, including CAA Player of the Year Jerrelle Benimon.

With major holes in the lineup, the team will look to 6-2 Junior G Four McGlynn to provide the scoring punch for this offense. He averaged 9.2 points per game while shooting 40.5 percent from the field. McGlynn led Towson with a 40.8 percent clip from behind the arc. As for rebounding, 6-7 Junior F Timajh Parker-Rivera will have to be responsible for the cleanup duties with Benimon gone. He averaged 5.2 boards a game in 36 games last season.

The only senior on this squad is 6-10 forward Jamel Flash from West Hempstead, NY. Unfortunately for Flash, it doesn’t seem Skerry trusts his veteran presence on the court, as he only played in only 16 games for the Tigers in 2013-14.

Three men decided to transfer into Skerry’s program since the summer: A.J. Astroth (Vanderbilt), Alex Gavrilovic (Dayton), and Arnaud William Adala Moto (Wake Forest). Adala Moto averaged 6.9 points and 5.2 rebounds in 19.7 minutes per game last year. In addition to these three, four freshmen will be donning the Towson uniform this year. Look for 6-5, 220-pound Eddie Keith to make the biggest impact.

Bottom Line- The coaches picked Towson to drop all the way down to seventh after finishing last season in second, and its understandable why. Their four best players are gone, leaving unproven commodities and bench players to fill those glaring gaps in the starting lineup. A top-five finish for this squad should be considered a very successful season.

WRBB Sports Basketball

Huskies Fall to 0-4, Lose 3-2 to Umass-Amherst

October 24th, 2014

Northeastern entered Friday night’s game 0-3 for the first time since the 1990-1991 season.

Unfortunately for the Huskies, it only got worse.

Despite controlling the game for much of the action, Massachusetts escaped Matthews Arena with a 3-2 win.

At 8:51 of the period UMass defenseman Emerson Auvenshine gave his team the go-ahead and winning goal on a one-timer from Zack LaRue to send his team home happy heading into their matchup with Boston College Saturday night.

“Obviously, it’s nice to get a win in league,” said Minutemen coach John Micheletto, “to get a win in a tough building against a talented team.”

The big news for Huskies’ fans coming into the game was goaltender Clay Witt being left off the line chart with an upper-body injury.

“That will be day-to-day,” said Northeastern coach Jim Madigan after the game. “And we’ll continue to monitor his progress and hopefully, have a little bit more info early to mid next week.”

UMass started freshman goalie Henry Dill Friday, who improved to 2-0 on the season after stopping 42 of the 44 Northeastern shots fired his way.

Northeastern scored first Friday night after Zach Aston-Reese slid the puck through the legs of a Minutemen defender, which found its way to senior Torin Snydeman, who was able to knock it home past Dill.

The Minutemen answered just 2:23 later when a Jake Horton shot was redirected by Zack LaRue over the blocker of Huskies’ goalie Derick Roy.

Ray Pigozzi gave Massachusetts the lead at 13:44 of the first on a power-play goal that hit the skate of a Northeastern defenseman and slid into the back of the net.

Northeastern, who is used to playing from behind, which they have virtually all year, showed some fight in scoring the equalizer less than two minutes later when Dalen Hedges scored his first of the year after getting a pass off the skate of Adam Reid via Garret Cockerill.

A penalty-ridden second period, which featured 14 minutes of time in the sin bin between the two teams, ended scoreless, and the team’s headed to the third tied at two, setting the stage for Auvenshine’s heroics.

“I’m glad Henry Dill had the night he had,” Micheletto said. “I also know we weren’t at our best tonight and when we weren’t, our goaltending certainly saved our bacon. It’s good to win ugly every once in a while, I guess. I don’t know that we’ll feel as good about the win tonight just based on the process, but we’ll certainly feel good about the win, getting points in the league.”

Madigan was pleased with his team’s effort, despite not getting the result they hoped for.

“I like the way our guys played,” Madigan said, “They played hard. We had 44 shots on goal, we had a lot of quality looks. We just didn’t get much puck luck. If we get effort and that focus that I thought we had tonight. then we’ll get the monkey off our back quickly.

“I thought we deserved quite frankly, a better fate, a better outcome tonight.”

This article can also be found on USCHO. Follow Josh Brown on twitter @josh_brown31

jbrown The Dog Pound

CAA Preview: Elon Phoenix

October 24th, 2014

By Jake Fischer

Head Coach – Matt Matheny (6th season)

Last Season – 18-14 (11-5, Southern Conference)

Losses – F Lucas Troutman, G Sebastian Koch, F Ryley Beaumont, G Jack Isenbarger,

Newcomers- G Demitri Thompson, F Collin Luther, F Jack Anton, F Jack George, G Elijah Bryant

Entering their first season as members of the Colonial Athletic Association, the Elon Phoenix are bound to endure one of the more disappointing seasons in recent program history. Elon graduated its top three scorers from a year ago in Troutman, Koch and Beaumont, leaving coach Matheny without a returning player who averaged double digits in scoring in 2013-14.

Now it’s time for 6-4 junior guard Tanner Sampson to claim the reigns of the Phoenix. Sampson played in all 32 of Elon’s games last year, making 22 starts. He averaged 9.4 points on a night on a ridiculous 43.4 percent clip from three-point land. He has the potential to challenge Towson’s Four McGlynn and Delaware’s Kyle Anderson for the top shooter in the CAA.

Sampson will have some comfort in three seniors who all saw significant minutes last season in Austin Hamilton, Kevin Blake and Ryan Winters. However, of those three, only Hamilton managed to contribute to Elon’s offense on a nightly basis.

Matheny has a large incoming freshman class, a group that makes up the entirety of Elon’s “newcomers.” This team’s success will likely be determined by whether a true freshmen can step up and play second fiddle to Sampson. Keep your eyes on Elijah Bryant, a 6-4, 225 pound guard.

Bottom Line- There’s a reason why the newcomer Phoenix were projected to finish last in the conference in the CAA Preseason poll. This team is going to struggle on offense in a league that features some very defense-heavy squads. Elon was a deadly shooting team a year ago, draining 37.5 percent of their attempts from deep as a team. Prowess from beyond the arc will likely be the only way this team can stay in games this winter.

WRBB Sports Basketball