ctsportslaw.com

Marist faces challenging non-conference schedule

Leave a comment

In year one under head coach Jeff Bower, Marist faces a challenging non-conference schedule with many of their tilts coming on the road. This should come as no surprise for Marist as they had just three home games in the non-conference portion of their schedule last season at home. For a program that is looking to broaden their profile, playing games on the road and in high-profile preseason tournaments is a must, and that’s something Bower understands.

“The more diversified the experiences can be, the better it will have us prepared for MAAC games. The success on the road is something that has been hard to come by. This is going to give us an early indication of the progress that we’re making. It will force us to adapt to playing on the road, and hopefully we’ll benefit from the experiences,” Bower told the Poughkeepsie Journal.

Not only will playing on the road challenge Marist, but it most likely will challenge Bower who has spent nearly the last 20 years away from the bench in the NBA in various roles (Bower was the interim coach for the New Orleans Hornets during the 2009-10 season following the firing of Byron Scott). Once a coach, always a coach. Plus, Bower will be familiar with Marist having been an assistant coach with the Red Foxes from 1986-1995.

As for the schedule, it’s a challenging one from top to bottom. Games at Stony Brook, Providence, and St. Joseph’s to begin the season will challenge what will be a young team in the early going, and then Marist heads down to the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands to play Maryland in their first game. Assuming they’re unable to upset Maryland, Marist will play the loser of the Northern Iowa vs. Loyola Marymount game — both tough mid-major teams.

“We’re very much aware of the road record (in recent years) and its impact and the need to experience more success on the road. Any success creates momentum, and momentum can fuel most teams,” said Bower. “We think it’s very challenging. We think it’s a schedule that will expose us to a lot of different teams that are at the top of their conference. It’s a wide cross-section of conferences that are all highly successful basketball leagues.”

For a program like Marist who hasn’t finished above .500 since the final year of Matt Brady in 2007-08, it’s all about garnering some exposure and building the program back up — something that former coach Chuck Martin was unable to do in his five years at the helm.

VIDEO: Duke’s Grayson Allen beats No. 7 Virginia at the buzzer

Duke's Grayson Allen (3) and Marshall Plumlee (40) react during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Louisville in Durham, N.C., Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. Duke won 72-65. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Leave a comment

Notre Dame’s Steve Vasturia sparks come-from-behind win over No. 13 Louisville

Notre Dame’s Steve Vasturia (32) goes up for a shot over Boston College’s Idy Diallo (4) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Robert Franklin)
(AP Photo/Robert Franklin)
Leave a comment

Demetrius Jackson scored 20 of his 25 points in the first half and Steve Vasturia scored 15 of his 20 points in the final 20 minutes as Notre Dame landed a 71-66 win over No. 13 Louisville on Saturday afternoon.

The Fighting Irish trailed by as many as 11 points early in the second half, but Vasturia’s hot shooting combined with Notre Dame holding Louisville to just 15 points in the final 15 minutes made all the difference.

The Fighting Irish are not as good as they were last season, but they are built in a similar mold. Jackson, as we expected, as become one of the nation’s most dynamic point guards, impossible to slow-down in isolation and ball-screen actions. Steve Vasturia emerging as a legitimate secondary option offensively and Zach Auguste is one of the nation’s most underrated big men and one of the most dangerous as the roll-man in ball-screens.

Combine all of that with a handful of shooters creating space and Bonzie Colson’s emergence as a force on the offensive glass, and Mike Brey once again has one of the nation’s most lethal offensive attacks.

Where they struggle is on the defensive end of the floor, which is what makes the end of Saturday’s win so meaningful. The Irish entered the day ranked 232nd in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric, which more or less means they’re as good as a bad mid-major program at keeping their opponents from scoring.

But they don’t have to be great to be able to win games.

They have to be good enough and they have to get important stops.

That’s precisely what happened on Saturday.

Whether or not that actually becomes a trend for this group will be something to monitor — it happened for Duke during last year’s NCAA tournament — but the bottom-line is this: Notre Dame does something better than just about anyone else in college basketball, and that’s score the ball.

On the nights they are able to gets some stops, they are going to be able to win some games. In the last eight days, they’ve proven that, beating North Carolina, Clemson on the road and Louisville.

And that makes them dangerous in March.