New York Colleges: 2012 NCAA tournament

Rapid Reaction: Michigan St. 89, LIU 67

March, 16, 2012
Recap | Box score | Photos

WHAT IT MEANS: LIU Brooklyn went to Columbus, Ohio, with dreams of becoming the first No. 16 seed to knock off a No. 1 in the NCAA tournament. The Blackbirds played much better than the final score indicates, but eventually ran out of gas, simply unequipped to deal with the Spartans' size on the front line.

LIU finishes the season at 25-9, and has a lot to be proud of: a second straight Northeast Conference regular season championship, a second straight NEC tournament title, a second straight NCAA tournament appearance -- and the Blackbirds acquitted themselves well both times.

TURNING POINT: LIU hung tough with Michigan State for the entire first half. The Spartans took their largest lead, 42-32, with under two minutes remaining, but the Blackbirds scored the final five points to make it 42-37 at intermission.

LIU was still within 10 points with under 12 minutes left in the game, but that's when Michigan State made its move. A 14-4 run, capped off by a Brandon Wood 3-pointer, made it 74-54 with 8:18 remaining, essentially putting the game out of reach.

KEY PLAYER: Draymond Green showed the country why he was named the Big Ten Player of the Year. Green had his third career triple-double, finishing with 24 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

Jamal Olasewere led three LIU players in double figures with 17 points.

KEY STAT: LIU doesn't start a player taller than 6-foot-7, and the Blackbirds got murdered on the boards. Michigan State outrebounded LIU 42 to 19, including a 15-to-3 advantage on the offensive glass.

The Spartans' two centers, starter Adreian Payne (6-foot-10, 240 pounds) and backup Derrick Nix (6-foot-9, 270 pounds), combined for 34 points and 15 rebounds, shooting 16-for-24 from the field.

WHAT'S NEXT: Michigan State advances to the Round of 32, where it will face No. 9 seed St. Louis on Sunday.

LIU heads back to Brooklyn. Rumors are already flying about head coach Jim Ferry, who could be a hot commodity on the coaching market. But almost all of the key players on this team will be back next season, meaning the Blackbirds should contend for a third consecutive NEC championship.

Big Dance littered with local products

March, 15, 2012
The New York metropolitan area has just one team in the Big Dance this year, LIU Brooklyn. And, no offense to the Blackbirds, but they’re not likely to stick around very long.

So, who should New Yorkers be rooting for during March Madness? (Besides the teams you selected in your bracket, of course.)

Here’s a look at the players with local roots in this NCAA tournament. (Only players who receive significant playing time are included.)


Kansas State (No. 8 seed, East Region)

Jordan Henriquez, a 6-foot-11 junior center from Port Chester, N.Y., averages 7.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocked shots per game for the Wildcats. Henriquez played for two years at Rice High School in Harlem, where he was teammates with Kemba Walker.

Also, Shane Southwell, a 6-foot-6 sophomore swingman from Harlem, averages 3.4 points and 2.2 rebounds in 17.3 minutes per game. Southwell also played for two years at Rice, after transferring from All Hallows.

Kentucky (No. 1 seed, South Region)

Doron Lamb, a 6-foot-4 sophomore from Queens, is Kentucky’s second-leading scorer at 13.2 points per game. Lamb is shooting 45.7 percent from 3-point range.

Freshman 6-foot-7 forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who is averaging 11.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, hails from Somerdale, N.J., and played for St. Patrick High School.

Long Beach State (No. 12 seed, West Region)

Edis Dervisevic, a 6-foot-8 senior forward from New York, N.Y., averages 4.2 points and 3.1 rebounds in 17.4 minutes per game for the 49ers. Dervisevic played for Our Saviour Lutheran High School.

Louisville (No. 4 seed, West Region)

The Cardinals’ second- and third-leading scorers, Russ Smith and Chris Smith (no relation), are from our area.

Chris, a 6-foot-2 senior from Millstone, N.J., averages 10.0 points and 3.7 rebounds per game -- he’s the brother of current Knick J.R. Smith, and transferred from Manhattan College. Russ, a 6-foot sophomore from Brooklyn, averages 11.4 points per game off the bench.

New Mexico State (No. 13 seed, South Region)

Hamidu Rahman, a 6-foot-11 senior center from Somerset, N.J., averages 10.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per game for the Aggies, shooting better than 60 percent from the field.

Syracuse (No. 1 seed, East Region)

James Southerland, a 6-foot-8 junior forward from Bayside, N.Y., averages 6.6 points and 3.0 rebounds per game for the Orange. He can shoot the lights out from 3-point range, and his playing time should increase now that center Fab Melo is out for the NCAA tournament.

Vanderbilt (No. 5 seed, East Region)

Lance Goulbourne, a 6-foot-8 senior forward from Brooklyn, averages 8.9 points and 6.9 rebounds per game -- he’s the leading rebounder for the Commodores.

Also, Rod Odom -- a 6-foot-9 sophomore forward from Central Islip, N.Y. -- averages 2.4 points and 1.9 rebounds in 14 minutes per game.

West Virginia (No. 10 seed, East Region)

The Mountaineers are chock-full of talented local products, led by Kevin Jones, a first-team All-Big East performer. Jones, a 6-foot-8 senior from Mount Vernon, N.Y., is averaging 20.1 points and 11.1 rebounds per game this season.

West Virginia’s second-leading scorer is 6-foot-2 senior guard Darryl “Truck” Bryant, who is averaging 17.2 points per game. Bryant is the all-time leading scorer at St. Raymond’s High School in the Bronx.

Jabarie Hinds, a 5-foot-11 freshman, also from Mount Vernon, is fourth on the team at 7.6 points per game.

And Dominique Rutledge, a 6-foot-8 junior forward from Newark, N.J., averages 1.9 points and 2.5 rebounds in 7.3 minutes per game, but has seen more playing time of late.

Western Kentucky (No. 16 seed, South Region)

The Hilltoppers’ leading scorer is Derrick Gordon, a 6-foot-2 freshman guard from Plainfield, N.J. Gordon, who played his high school ball at St. Patrick High School, is averaging 11.8 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.

Also, Kahlil McDonald, a 6-foot-3 senior guard from Brooklyn, chips in 8.5 points per game.

UNLV (No. 6 seed, South Region)

Quintrell Thomas, a 6-foot-8 junior forward from Newark, N.J., averages 4.5 points and 3.1 rebounds in 12 miutes per game for the Rebels.


Cincinnati (No. 6 seed, East Region)

The Bearcats’ leading scorer is 6-foot-4 sophomore guard Sean Kilpatrick, from White Plains, N.Y., who averages 14.3 points per game. Kilpatrick was named to the All-Big East second team this season.

Also, Jermaine Sanders -- a 6-foot-5 freshman forward from Far Rockaway, N.Y. -- averages 1.8 points and 1.2 rebounds in 8.8 minutes per game. Sanders played for Rice High School in Harlem.

Florida (No. 7 seed, West Region)

Erving Walker, a 5-foot-8 senior guard from Brooklyn, leads the Gators in assists (4.7 apg), and is third in scoring (12.1 ppg). Walker played his high school ball for Christ the King.

Also, Mike Rosario, a 6-foot-3 junior guard from Jersey City, averages 6.8 points in 14.8 minutes per game. Rosario is in his first season with Florida, after transferring from Rutgers.

Kansas (No. 2 seed, Midwest Region)

Hoboken native Tyshawn Taylor, a 6-foot-3 senior guard, is second on the Jayhawks in scoring (17.3 ppg), and leads the team in assists (4.8 apg). Taylor played for the legendary Bob Hurley at St. Anthony in Jersey City.

Lehigh (No. 15 seed, South Region)

Justin Maneri, a 6-foot-8 senior center from Saddle Brook, N.J., averages 3.0 points and 2.1 rebounds in 11.5 minutes per game for the Mountain Hawks.

LIU Brooklyn (No. 16 seed, West Region)

The Blackbirds are based in New York, but almost all of their key players are from outside the local area.

Gerrell Martin, a 6-foot-2 freshman guard from the Bronx, averages 2.3 points in 5.4 minutes per game; Booker Hucks, a 6-foot-6 junior forward from Bay Shore, N.Y., averages 1.4 points and 1.4 rebounds in 5.2 minutes per game.

NC State (No. 11 seed, Midwest Region)

Tyler Harris, a 6-foot-8 freshman forward from Dix Hills, N.Y., averages 2.1 points and 1.2 rebounds in 7.4 minutes per game. Harris is the younger brother of Tobias Harris, formerly of Tennessee, now with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Norfolk State (No. 15 seed, Midwest Region)

The Spartans, playing in their first-ever NCAA tournament have a roster full of New York players, including leading scorer and rebounder Kyle O’Quinn (15.9 ppg, 10.4 rpg) and leading assist man Jamel Fuentes -- from Queen and Brooklyn respectively. Click here to read more.

St. Bonaventure (No. 14, seed, East Region)

Demitrius Conger, a 6-foot-6 junior forward from Brooklyn, is the Bonnies’ second-leading scorer (12.1 ppg) and rebounder (6.1 rpg). He played three seasons of high school ball at Covenant Christian Academy in Atlanta.

Also, Da’Quan Cook -- a 6-foot-8 senior forward from Elizabeth, N.J. -- averages 7.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. Cook began his high school career at St. Patrick High School in New Jersey, but finished at The Miller School in Charlottesville, Va.

Temple (No. 5 seed, Midwest Region)

Aaron Brown, a 6-foot-5 sophomore guard from Hackensack, N.J., averages 6.6 points and 2.1 rebounds in 14.9 points per game for the Owls.

Texas (No. 11 seed, East Region)

Sterling Gibbs, a 6-foot-1 freshman guard from Scotch Plains, N.J., averages 2.6 points in 7.5 minutes per game for the Longhorns. He is the brother of Pittsburgh star guard Ashton Gibbs.

Vermont (No. 16 seed, Midwest Region)

Brian Voelkel, a 6-foot-6 sophomore forward from Plesantville, N.Y., scores just 4.8 points per game, but leads the team in rebounds (8.6 rpg) and assists (5.2 apg).

Voelkel played at Iona Prep in New Rochelle, N.Y., as did Sandro Carissimo -- a 6-foot-2 sophomore guard from Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., who averages 6.9 points and 2.5 assists per game.

Also, Josh Elbaum -- a 6-foot-3 sophomore from Melville, N.Y. -- averages 1.7 points and 1.5 assists in 12.9 minutes per game for Vermont.

Xavier (No. 10 seed, South Region)

The Musketeers’ star senior guard, Tu Holloway (17.0 ppg, 5.1 apg), hails from Hempstead, N.Y. Holloway was name first-team All-Atlantic 10 this year, after winning Player of the Year honors in the conference last year.

Also, Travis Taylor -- a 6-foot-8 junior forward from Union, N.J. -- averages 4.9 points and 4.0 rebounds in 15.7 minutes per game for Xavier. Taylor transferred from Monmouth, where he was a star in the Northeast Conference.

Rapid Reaction: BYU 78, Iona 72

March, 14, 2012

Recap | Box score

WHAT IT MEANS: This one will hurt for a long, long time.

Iona led BYU by as many as 25 points in the first half of their NCAA tournament first-round game Tuesday night in Dayton, Ohio. The Gaels came out scorching the nets, scoring 55 points in just the first 15 minutes and change. But they only scored 17 points over the last 24:34 of the game as BYU rallied and stunned Iona, winning 78-72.

Simply put, it is the biggest comeback in NCAA tournament history.

TURNING POINT: With the score 13-10 Iona in the early going, the Gaels erupted on a 15-0 run to make it 28-10 less than midway through the first half. BYU cut it to 28-17, but then Iona exploded again, taking a 49-24 lead with 6:12 left before the break. Then the Cougars ended the half on a 9-0 run to make it 55-40 at intermission.

The second half was a whole 'nother story. Iona never got its mojo back offensively, stymied by BYU's zone defense. At one point the Gaels went more than nine minutes without a point. The Cougars got the deficit all the way down to one on two occasions without getting over the hump, and then finally took the lead on a Noah Hartsock trey with 2:28 remaining. BYU closed it out from there.

KEY PLAYER: Hartsock had a game-high 23 points for BYU, making 10 of his 14 shots from the field. Brandon Davies chipped in 18.

Scott Machado had 15 points and 10 assists in his final game for Iona -- but 12 of his 15 points and nine of his 10 assists came in the first half.

KEY STAT: Iona was on fire early in this game, but finished just 6-for-25 from 3-point range, and the Gaels rely heavily on perimeter shooting.

WHAT'S NEXT: BYU will enter the NCAA tournament's West bracket as the No. 14 seed, and play No. 3 seed Marquette on Thursday afternoon in Louisville, Ky.

Iona finishes the season with a record of 25-8.

Willard reacts to Seton Hall's NCAA snub

March, 11, 2012
Seton Hall -- which ESPN "bracketologist" Joe Lunardi had picked to be the last team to make it into the NCAA tournament field of 68 -- was one of this year's bubble teams that had its hopes popped on Sunday evening.

The Pirates, despite finishing the regular season with a record of 20-12 (8-10 Big East), are headed to the NIT. They are the sixth 20-win Big East team of the last 153 to not make the Big Dance.

"Well, obviously we are disappointed," said coach Kevin Willard on a conference call with reporters Sunday evening. "But still excited, very excited about being in the NIT, and having a chance to still play basketball."

The Pirates will host Stony Brook (22-9), the America East regular season champion, on Tuesday at Walsh Gymnasium, on Seton Hall's campus. Tip-off is at 7:15 p.m.

Seton Hall was chasing its first NCAA bid since 2006. Willard is only in his second season with the program, and the roster is comprised largely of freshmen and sophomores, so they will have more opportunities to accomplish this goal in the years ahead.

But for Seton Hall's two senior leaders, point guard Jordan Theodore and power forward Herb Pope, this was their last chance.

"My two seniors took it hard. Really hard," said Willard. "It was tough to console them, because it was a really emotional time for both of them. They both gave so much this year to us, and both have come through so much at this university."

Seton Hall had a roller coaster of a season. The Pirates started out 15-2, earning their first national ranking since 2001. Then they went into a tailspin from mid-January to early February, losing six straight games.

They rebounded to win four of five after that, including an 18-point victory over then-No. 8 Georgetown on Feb. 21 that everyone believed put them on the cusp of that coveted NCAA bid. But then they ended the regular season with an overtime loss to Rutgers, followed by an inexplicable 28-point loss at last-place DePaul.

Seton Hall dispatched Providence in the first-round of the Big East tournament, but lost to Louisville in the second round.

"Unfortunately I think [the selection committee] looked at the last two games of the [regular] season ... when in fact, that really wasn't who we were all year," said Willard. "But at the same time, all the teams that got in were great teams."

Willard also said that he will change his approach to scheduling going forward. Seton Hall went 11-1 during its nonconference slate this season, including a win at Dayton, and wins against VCU and St. Joseph's at a neutral site. The Pirates' only nonconference blemish was a loss to Northwestern, again at a neutral site.

"I thought we put together a really good nonconference sked to help us out [with the selection committee]," said Willard. "It obviously doesn't matter who you play in the nonconference, it just matters how you do in your conference.

"Playing road games and playing tough neutural-court games doesn't help you in your conference, I've learned that very quickly," Willard added, saying that his new plan for nonconference scheduling is to "not leave the state, play all home games, and get ready for the Big East."

Ironically, Iona -- the team Willard coached for three years before taking the Seton Hall job -- was one of the bubble teams that made the NCAA tournament field on Sunday. "I'm ecstatic," said Willard. "Where that program was four years ago or five years ago, to get an at-large bid? Couldn't be happier."

As for Seton Hall, the Pirates did receive one of the No. 1 seeds in the NIT.

"I'm very proud of what we've accomplished this season," said Willard, "and we're looking forward to getting back on the court on Tuesday.”

LIU's mixed emotions on Selection Sunday

March, 11, 2012

The LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds gathered together Sunday afternoon to watch the NCAA tournament selection show at a Quiznos in the middle of campus -- the same location where they watched the selection show a year ago.

LIU was one of the lucky ones -- one of the 31 teams with automatic bids to this year's Big Dance. The Blackbirds knew they would hear their school's name called eventually, unlike all those bubble teams around the country.

Yet when "LIU Brooklyn" popped up on the television screens above them on Sunday, the players' reactions were lukewarm at best.

A couple guys smiled. A few clapped. Others just kept staring at the TVs.

"Yeah, I was expecting a 15 [seed] at least," said junior forward Jamal Olasewere. "It’s kind of upsetting. But to be in a tournament like this, it's still a blessing."

LIU ended up receiving a No. 16 seed in the West region, matched up with No. 1 seed Michigan State. The teams will face each other on Friday in Columbus, Ohio, at approximately 9:20 p.m. ET.

Last year the Blackbirds were a No. 15 seed in the NCAA tournament, losing 102-87 to No. 2 seed North Carolina. This year, after defending their Northeast Conference regular season and tournament championships, they were hoping for at least the same.

"It is what it is," said LIU coach Jim Ferry. "I thought maybe we should have been [higher], but so much goes on in that [selection committee] room, you really don't know.

"I thought we were gonna be a 14 last year, and we were a 15. So 15, 16 this year -- you gotta remember, we started out 0-3. We had to win one of those games to start the year, and we didn't."

The Blackbirds did begin the season by losing to Hofstra, Old Dominion and Penn State -- all on the road. But they rebounded nicely to finish 25-8, 16-2 in the NEC, and swept through their conference tourney.

Now they'll have the pleasure of facing the Spartans (27-7, 13-5 Big Ten), who just beat Ohio State on Sunday to win the Big Ten tournament -- a game that was on the televisions at the LIU viewing party, just prior to the selection show.

"One good thing is I was watching the game today," said Ferry. "When this is over tonight, I'm gonna go to the office and probably watch about two hours of tape. So we'll get into practice tomorrow and we'll start game-planning right away."

"That's a power basketball team, that's a physical basketball team," Ferry added about Michigan State. "Everything they do is about toughness and strength, and they try to bang you inside, they beat you on the glass, and we're gonna have to get the game going up and down the court, which they don't really do."

LIU may not be thrilled with the seed, but the Blackbirds will enter this tournament red-hot, winners of 20 of their past 22 games. And it's largely the same team as the one that went dancing a year ago, so they know what they're getting into.

"We lost some games during the season that we definitely shouldn't have lost, so it definitely hurt us in the seeding," said junior forward Julian Boyd, the NEC Player of the Year. "But with the team we have, I feel like we can go out and beat any team, no matter who we're matched up against. It'll definitely be a good game."

A No. 16 seed has never beaten a No. 1 seed in the history of the NCAA tournament -- a fact that was not lost on the LIU players.

"That's probably one of the only positive things about being a 16 seed," said Boyd. "We have the chance to make history."

Iona overjoyed at surprise NCAA bid

March, 11, 2012

The Iona men's basketball players and coaches were so nervous about Sunday's NCAA tournament selection show, they didn't even watch it together.

The team finished practice at about 5 p.m., an hour before the show began. The players went to eat together at a nearby restaurant, while the coaches went someplace else to eat. "We didn't wanna jinx ourselves and be all together, thinking that we should get in, and then have a disappointment," said Iona coach Tim Cluess.

When Iona's name appeared on the TV screen, things started happening quickly. "As soon as we all found out, we called each other and came running right back to school and all met up here," said Cluess. "And we're enjoying it right now."

Cluess was speaking on a conference call with reporters about a half-hour after the selection show ended. The Gaels (25-7, 15-3 MAAC) -- the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular season champions, who were upset in the semifinals of their conference tournament -- were one of the biggest surprises in the field of 68.

Prior to this year, the MAAC conference has only received one at-large bid in its history -- Manhattan in 1995.

Iona was one of the last four teams to make the NCAA field, so the Gaels will have to play a play-in game, Tuesday at approximately 9:10 p.m. ET in Dayton, Ohio, against BYU. The winner will be the No. 14 seed in the West region, and play No. 3 seed Marquette on Thursday in Louisville, Ky.

This is Iona's first bid to the NCAA tournament since 2006.

"We were hopeful -- I knew we’d be in an on-the-bubble situation, so we weren’t sitting there thinking we were in," said Cluess. "We were probably saying, 'Well, with all these teams out there it's gonna be a tough decision for the selection committee. But we remained hopeful and we got in. We're just extremely excited -- we wouldn't say surprised, just more thrilled."

"I think a lot of my teammates were nervous, but being there last year, I kind of knew how a lot of things worked, and what to expect," said Iona junior guard Lamont "Momo" Jones, who played in the NCAA tournament with Arizona last year before transferring.

"And looking at the RPIs and the strength of schedule and what we did this year, I was pretty confident that we were gonna make it. I just had to keep telling my team, we're gonna make it, you just gotta have faith."

Iona did have a good final RPI rating, 42. The Gaels went 0-2 against teams in the Top 50 in the RPI, but were 5-1 against teams ranked from 51 to 100. And they went 6-2 during a very difficult December road stretch -- Iona played eight games that month, all away from home.

"I knew that our out-of-conference strength of schedule, our out-of-conference RPI, our overall RPI, the fact that we played so many road games -- we had a lot of things going in our favor that would give us a chance," said Cluess. "I also knew that there were a ton of tremendous teams that you were looking at."

Iona's opponent, BYU (25-8, 12-4 WCC), finished in third place in its first year in the West Coast Conference, behind St. Mary's and Gonzaga.

"I don't know a lot about them right now -- I know they're a very good basketball team," said Cluess. "We're gonna get as much information as we can on them; that's what we're doing right now. My assistant coaches are hard at work on that, and we're looking forward to the challenge."

The coaches and players are on the same page, or in the same place, on that one.

"We're very thankful that we got in, and we're very excited, and we're very hyped to play," said senior point guard Scott Machado. "All my teammates are like, 'We wanna practice right now!' Everybody's just excited and ready to go. We definitely wanna make a run, but it’s gonna be one game at a time."

Rapid Reaction: LIU, Iona make Big Dance

March, 11, 2012
Brackets: PDF | GIF

Some quick thoughts following the NCAA tournament selection show:

BIG SURPRISE! Iona -- the regular season champ in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, which was upset in the semifinals of the MAAC tournament -- made the field of 68, which few people expected coming into the day.

The Gaels (25-7, 15-3 MAAC) were one of the final four teams to receive an at-large bid, which means they have to play a play-in game on Tuesday, which will tip off at approximately 8:30 p.m. ET. Iona will play BYU (25-8), which finished in third place in the West Coast Conference at 12-4, behind St. Mary's and Gonzaga.

The winner will be a No. 14 seed, and will face No. 3 seed Marquette on Thursday in Louisville, Ky., as part of the West bracket.

SMALL DISAPPOINTMENT: LIU Brooklyn, the regular season and tournament champion of the Northeast Conference, was the only local team guaranteed to be in the field coming into the day.

LIU received the No. 16 seed in the West bracket and will play No. 1 seed Michigan State in Columbus, Ohio, on Friday. The Blackbirds, who were a No. 15 seed a year ago, are thrilled to be back in the Big Dance, but they thought they deserved a higher seed (more to come later tonight).

The Spartans (27-7, 13-5 Big Ten) tied for first in the Big Ten during the regular season, and beat Ohio State to win the Big Ten tournament on Sunday.

BIGGER DISAPPOINTMENT: Seton Hall (20-12, 8-10 Big East), the other local team that was on the bubble heading into the day, was left out of the field entirely.'s final edition of Bracketology had Seton Hall as the last team in the field, and Iona being left out -- but the selection committee obviously saw things differently.

We'll have reaction from Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard later tonight as well.