ESPN Events: Georgetown

Hoyas' next challenge is in Puerto Rico

November, 18, 2013
11/18/13
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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – One of the challenges facing teams in the seventh annual Puerto Rico Tip-Off is simply handling the lengthy trip to San Juan. But that is not an issue for the Georgetown Hoyas. Their 1,500-mile flight to the island must seem like a stroll around the block compared to the 14,000-mile, roundtrip excursion they took to play a game on a U.S. Army base in South Korea earlier this month.

“That was an incredible experience, and it meant so much more than the actual game,” said Georgetown coach John Thompson III, whose team lost to Oregon 82-75 in the Armed Forces Classic on Nov. 8, but bounced back just five days later at home to defeat Wright State 88-70. “It was invaluable for our guys just to see and be a part of that.”

Thompson said the Puerto Rico Tip-Off will provide another good test for his team. The Hoyas begin the tournament by playing Northeastern (1-2) Thursday at 1:30 p.m. Atlantic Time (12:30 p.m. ET) on ESPNU.

“No matter where you look at the field that’s been assembled, it’s challenging,” Thompson said. “We’re going to be tested each and every night. It’s a great field. As a fan you’re going to get a chance to see some good ball, and as a coach you just hope you can survive. You’re going to play three quality games. Everyone who is in this tournament is going to have to be on point and play well to succeed.”

That is certainly how Northeastern coach Bill Cohen looks at it, especially when it comes to facing Georgetown’s imposing frontcourt. The Huskies’ tallest player is 6-foot-8, while Georgetown has five players who top that height. The Hoyas’ trio of Nate Lubick, Mikael Hopkins and Joshua Smith have combined to grab 35 rebounds in the first two games of the season.

“I don’t know if we have an answer for that just yet,” Cohen said when asked about the Hoyas’ frontcourt. “They’ve been playing really, really well. They have a tradition of always having great frontcourts. We’ll probably have to play some zone and try to keep the ball from getting in there.”

In an attempt to look for any advantage possible, Cohen said he hopes his team can garner some local support, since Northeastern’s most famous basketball alum, NBA player J.J. Barea, is a native of Puerto Rico. “I think there is a lot of sense of pride surrounding J.J. in Puerto Rico,” Cohen said. “Hopefully those fans will come out and support us and be Northeastern fans for a day.”

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Cary Estes is covering his fourth Puerto Rico Tip-Off. A freelance writer living in Birmingham, Estes spent 15 years working as a sportswriter for daily newspapers, mostly at the Birmingham Post-Herald. Estes has been a fulltime freelancer since 2006 and has continued covering sports for Associated Press, nbcsports.com, SI.com (NASCAR) and several daily newspapers, including the Orlando Sentinel, Charlotte Observer and Cincinnati Enquirer.

Notes on the Puerto Rico Tip-Off

September, 5, 2013
9/05/13
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49ers: With two schools nicknamed the 49ers participating in the 2013 Puerto Rico Tip-Off, the question comes to mind: Why the same nickname for institutions situated on opposite coasts? According to the schools’ athletic websites, the 49ers of Charlotte honor the year 1949, when founder Bonnie Cone successfully fought to make the school a permanent institution. Long Beach State’s “official mascot is the 49er, in honor of the school's founding in 1949 and the fact that the city of Long Beach, like many other cities in California, prospered due to the 1850 gold rush.”

"SOME" Helping Hoya Hands: Georgetown coaches and players could be found pitching in on Aug. 27 in the southeastern corner of the District of Columbia at Independence Place, a housing project managed by SOME (So Others May Eat). “It's a great thing to know they care,” said Cynthia Smith-Lewis, property assistant manager for SOME, about the Georgetown team. “For the families to know that someone is investing in them to help their lives, it means a lot."

Making Coin: Josh Bartelstein, the captain of Michigan's national runner-up squad in the 2013 NCAA championship, spent three of his seasons in Ann Arbor writing the "J-Bart Blog" for the school’s athletic. According to an article posted Sept. 3 on ESPN.com by Eamonn Brennan, Bartelstein "figured out a way to not only archive all that great work, but make a little coin from it, too"—by releasing an eBook about the team. When announcing Bartelstein as the team’s “permanent” captain for the 2012-’13 Wolverine squad last November, coach John Beilein noted that the 2009 Wolverine walk-on was "the most selfless 'team, team, team' guy that I may have ever coached. That young man has the ear of the locker room, and he has the ear of the coaching staff as well."

Four-Peat: Long Beach State posted its 2013-’14 prospectus on its basketball website as the 49ers begin the season in search of their "fourth consecutive Big West regular season championship.” The 49ers matched UNLV as the last Big West school to win three straight regular-season crowns. The prospectus highlighted the return of Mike Caffey, an All-Big West Conference first-team selection. The 6-foot junior point guard was the 49ers' second-leading scorer last season (12.0 points per game).

Puerto Rico celebrates 100 years of hoops

August, 28, 2013
8/28/13
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With Puerto Rico celebrating 100 years of basketball, the country's national team captured the Jenaro "Tuto" Marchand Continental Cup by defeating Argentina 89-81 on August 26 in the final game of the five-country round-robin FIBA tournament at the Coliseo Roberto Clemente in San Juan. Former American collegiate standouts Jose Juan Barea (Northeastern) and Carlos Arroyo (Florida International) paced the Puerto Ricans to a 4-0 record and were named the co-MVPs.

The celebration of 100 years of basketball in Puerto Rico officially began last spring at the Olympic House (the former YMCA building where the first basketball court was located) with a photo exhibition that featured images ranging from the original court YMCA until Jose Juan Barea championship with the Dallas Mavericks in 2010. Barea was "excited" and thankful about being chosen “to represent a generation of basketball in Puerto Rico.”

Puerto Rico Tip-Off participant Florida State will play at least nine teams that played in last season's NCAA Tournament and may play two of the four Final Four participants. Coach Leonard Hamilton knows it will be challenge for his team. "We are going to challenge ourselves again this season," he said. “The aspect that makes our schedule even tougher is the high number of quality opponents we will play all season long, including in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off."

Michigan announced its 2013-2014 non-conference schedule Aug. 23 featuring an appearance in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. "Once again we will have a very challenging non-conference schedule," said coach John Beilein. "As in our previous years, we expect our overall strength of a schedule will be one of the best in the NCAA."

Making the cut: In an Aug. 21 article on ESPN.com, John Goodman ranked the Top 25 X's and O's head coaches. Making the list were John Beilein of Michigan and John Thompson III of Georgetown. Goodman polled about two-thirds (around 250) of the Division I head coaches.

Worthwhile trip: In an Aug. 26 article by Coley Harvey in the Orlando Sentinel, coach Hamilton of Florida State was quoted as saying the Seminoles' two-week trip to Greece "was an eye-opening experience for our guys." During the overseas adventure, the Seminoles "practiced with and competed against the Greek national team.”

Notes on the Puerto Rico Tip-Off ...

August, 21, 2013
8/21/13
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Games against nine post-season participants and three defending conference champions from the 2012-’13 season will highlight this coming season’s non-league schedule for Northeastern. Huskie coach Bill Coen, whose team will be participating in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in November, knows his team will be tested. “We have a highly competitive schedule that will test and prepare us well for CAA [Colonial Athletic Association] play.” …

Florida State and Michigan will play on Dec. 3 in the 15th annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Wolverines will be at Duke (9:15 p.m. ET, ESPN) and the Seminoles at Minnesota (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU) during the first of two days of play. All 12 Big Ten teams and 12 of the 15 ACC schools will participate in the 2013 Challenge, including the three newest ACC members (Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Syracuse). Clemson, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest will not play in this year’s event, as reported Aug. 15 on ESPN.com. …

The “Five Biggest Offseason Storylines” for the Atlantic Coast Conference is now available on ESPN.com as Jason King lists Florida State’s Okaro White as a "Most Important Player." White ranked second on the team in scoring (12.4 points per game) as a junior and shot an impressive 81 percent from the free throw line. The loss of clutch guard Michael Snaer to graduation means the onus will be on White and highly-touted freshman Xavier Rathan-Mayes to be two of FSU's top performers. …

VCU will play four Atlantic Coast Conference opponents this season with the Rams facing Virginia, Florida State, Virginia and Boston College with three of the four games on a neutral court. Prior to meeting Florida State on Nov. 21 in the opening round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, VCU will play at Virginia on Nov. 12. It will be the first meeting between the Rams and UVA and VCU since 1998 and tips off a two-year home-and-home series between the schools. VCU will play Virginia Tech Dec. 21 at the Governor's Holiday Hoops Classic in Richmond with the Rams’ next game Dec. 28 against Boston College in the Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival at the Barclays Center. The VCU-Florida State contest will be the first meeting between the two schools since the Rams' thrilling 72-71 overtime victory over the Seminoles in the 2011 NCAA Tournament Regional Semifinal in San Antonio. VCU will host Northeastern on Nov. 29 in Puerto Rico. …


Charlotte's recruitment of hometown players was featured in an Aug. 11 “College Basketball Talk” article by Raphielle Johnson: “In many of the nation’s basketball hotbeds, a point of emphasis for college basketball coaches is to keep their area’s top talents home,” writes Johnson. “In Charlotte that’s been a task far easier said than done, however as many players have decided to play their college basketball elsewhere. But things may be changing for Alan Major’s program.”

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