Monmouth v Notre Dame

Monmouth receives good news regarding two newcomers

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The 2012-13 season was a tough one for King Rice’s Monmouth Hawks, as they finished the season with an overall record of 10-21. And at 5-13 in the Northeast Conference, the Hawks didn’t qualify for the NEC tournament after dropping their final four regular season games.

Tough way to say farewell to the NEC, as the Hawks are one of two newcomers in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference with Quinnipiac being the other. On Wednesday the Monmouth program received some needed good news, as the NCAA Eligibility Center has cleared freshmen Marcelo Deschamps and Justin Robinson.

While this raises the number of freshmen on this season’s roster to seven, the personnel boost is a much-needed one for this young team. Deschamps, a native of Brazil, is a 6-10 center (Robinson’s a 5-8 guard from Kingston, N.Y.) who gives the Hawks additional size alongside fellow interior players (and freshmen) Chris Brady and Zach Tillman.

“Marcelo is a big, physical specimen,” Rice told Josh Newman of the Asbury Park Press. “He can run and be physical going into the MAAC with the physicality of that league. When when we first got Marcelo, we were still in the NEC, but at the time, we were looking to go out and find bigger, stronger post guys.”

All three will be needed as the Hawks lost their top three rebounders from last season (Ed Waite led the way with an average of 4.8 rpg), and to be frank Monmouth wasn’t all that good on the glass either.

Monmouth finished the 2012-13 season ranked eighth in the NEC in offensive rebounding percentage, as they managed to grab 29.8% of their missed shots. And on the defensive glass the Hawks had their issues, as opponents rebounding more than 35% of their misses.

The NEC certainly didn’t have slouches amongst its members, with three-time champ LIU Brooklyn and Robert Morris being perennial contenders, but Monmouth will see an overall rise in the level of competition now that they’re in the MAAC.

Monmouth will certainly take their lumps this season, but at least they’ll have a full roster to build with.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: