College Basketball 2016-17

A HOOPS WINTER BLOG: College roundball in the basketball-crazed DMV 2016-17

March 12, 2017
WASHINGTON - They say that having a senior guard at this time of year is a good omen for teams that want to make a run in the NCAA tournament.

Well Michigan has two of them. Tourney MVP Derrick Walton, Jr. and all-tourney player Zak Irvin combined for 37 points and 12 assists as the Wolverines beat No. 2 seed Wisconsin here at the Verizon Center to win the Big Ten conference tourney title Sunday.

“God is good. We overcame a lot,” Walton said of surviving a plane scare on an aborted takeoff Wednesday. “Had a lot of trials and tribulations. All I can say is God is good. We're here for a reason. I wouldn't want to do this with any other group of guys. This hat feels real good on my head.”

Said Irvin of the title: “It means so much to all of us. All of the adversity that we've been to throughout the whole tournament. We stuck together as a family and got the job done.”

March 5, 2017
Richmond, Va. - The Dayton men's basketball team thinks they are headed to March Madness. But the Dayton women know for sure, after they beat No. 7 seed Duquesne here on Sunday for the Atlantic 10 tournament title to gain an automatic bid. The Dukes became the first No. 7 seed to ever make the title game, but the Flyers prevailed. Dayton won three games in three days, beating a VCU team playing a few miles from its campus Friday, a St. Louis team with the top player in the league on Saturday and then a Duquesne team that played George Washington in the title game last season.

March 4, 2017
Richmond, Va. - VCU senior guard JeQuan Lewis was surrounded by family and friends on the court at the Siegel Center here late Saturday afternoon, after his team beat George Mason 72-60 on Senior Day in the regular-season finale.

Nearly a month after he scored a career-high 34 points in a win over Saint Joseph's, the quick Lewis had just one point against Mason. But he had nine turnovers and no assists as the Rams clinched second in the conference.

“At the end of the day I am a point guard,” Lewis told me after the game. “I know I can score. If my team needs me to score 30 I will score 30. Tonight it was all about getting my team involved. I have had my scoring spurts.”

VCU is 24-7 and will play Friday in Pittsburgh in the conference tournament.

Mason is 19-12 and the No. 7 seed and will play Fordham on Thursday in the tournament.

March 3, 2017
Richmond, Va. - The former capital of the Confederacy - not that there is anything wrong with that, maybe - will be a hoops capital for the next 48 hours.

The Atlantic 10 Conference women's tournament begins here at 11 a.m. with hometown and No. 8 seed VCU facing No. 1 seed Dayton. The semifinals are Saturday, also at the Richmond Coliseum, with the title game at noon Sunday on ESPNU.

Saturday you could see parts of four Division I Atlantic hoop games if you tried hard enough. There are two women's games while the VCU men host George Mason at 2 p.m. and Saint Louis playing at Richmond at 4 p.m.

March 1, 2017
EMMITSBURG, MARYLAND - It is hard to imagine that a conference tournament game between power five teams that know they are headed to the NCAA field could match the intensity here tonight before a loud crowd of 2,405 a few miles south of the Mason-Dixon line.

No. 1 seed Mount St. Mary's, playing on its home court in the quarterfinals of the NEC tournament, held off No. 8 Sacred Heart 76-73 to advance to the semifinals at home Saturday against Robert Morris. Junior Robinson, at 5-foot-5 the shortest player at the Division I level, had 22 points and four assists for The Mount.

Mount redshirt junior guard Charles Glover, who had played just one minute, came in with 1.5 seconds left to inbound the ball under the visitor's basket. The Mount made one of two free throws after that and a long 3-pointer was off the mark at the buzzer by the SH. "That is my role. I am the closer," said Glover, who is from Bowie and played at Gonzaga with Nate Britt of North Carolina and Kris Jenkins of Villanova.

The Wildcats and Jenkins play on Saturday at Georgetown in the regular-season finale. But I will be in Richmond for the Atlantic 10 Conference's women's tournament and at VCU for the game with George Mason.

Feb. 28, 2017
SOMEWHERE IN THE OLD LINE STATE - March will roar in like a lion - with college hoops close behind.

Post-season Division I basketball will come to Maryland on Wednesday, March 1 as No. 1 seed Mount St. Mary's will host No. 8 Sacred Heart in the first round of the NEC men's tournament in Emmitsburg.

The Mount roster includes six players from Maryland and a seventh, sophomore guard Elijah Long, went to John Carroll near Baltimore. He is averaging 14.8 points per contest. Long had 22 points, seven assists and six boards in the regular-season finale against St. Francis Brooklyn as The Mount ended up 14-4 in the NEC. All three figures were above his season averages.

The Mount head coach is Jamion Christian, who is from Virginia and is a former assistant at William & Mary and VCU.

Sacred Heart also has a local connection: redshirt junior De'von Barnett is from Waldorf, Maryland and played at Riverdale Baptist in Upper Marlboro. He has started 27 games and is scoring 7.3 points per contest.

Then on Thursday the U.S. Naval Academy - the No. 4 seed out of the Patriot League - will host No. 5 seed Holy Cross in the first round of their tournament. It will be a rematch of a few weeks ago when host Navy beat Holy Cross 60-47 in regular-season play on Jan. 28.

The Crusaders feature all-league player and senior Malachi Alexander, who is from nearby Bowie, Maryland. He had several family and friends at the game at Navy in January and the same should be true this week.

Feb. 25, 2017
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Could No. 24 Maryland miss the NCAA tournament? That seemed impossible to even consider a week ago. But in the past six days the Terps lost at Wisconsin and then fell at home to Minnesota and, on Saturday, to Iowa. Maryland has lost three games in a row for the first time this year. That number could grow to six if the Terps fall apart and lose Tuesday at Rutgers, at home Saturday to Michigan State and then in their first game in the conference tournament. That is hard to fathom, and the Terps should be assured of an NCAA berth even though they will fall out of the top 25 on Monday.

Feb. 22, 2017
COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND - Was this bound to happen? No. 24 Maryland starts three freshmen and for most of this season they have performed very well. In a loss at home here Wednesday to Minnesota, the trio of Anthony Cowan, Kevin Huerter and Justin Jackson combined to make 10 of 33 shots while the defense allowed 55 points in the second half. "We've been playing great all season and we just can't panic right now," said guard Jaylen Brantley, a junior. Maryland will host Iowa on Saturday after the 2001 Final Four team and 2002 national title team are honored.

Feb. 16, 2017
HARRISONBURG, Va. - William and Mary entered play here Thursday with a 1-6 mark in CAA road games and a 2-11 mark overall this season away from Williamsburg. Then the Tribe went out and lost in overtime to James Madison, which has struggled no matter the setting this year. Was this the most frustrating road loss of the season? "I think they have all been frustrating," said Tribe standout Daniel Dixon, who had 22 of his 29 points after halftime.

Feb. 11, 2017
COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND - The Maryland bench outscored the Ohio State reserves 33-0 on Saturday as the Terps broke a two-game skid with an 86-77 victory. The three Ohio State bench players combined for no points and six fouls in a combined 36 minutes. A pair of freshmen guards led Maryland, as Anthony Cowan of Bowie had 19 points and Kevin Huerter had 18. Junior point guard Melo Trimble was held to 11 points. “That kid doesn’t struggle,” Ohio State head coach Thad Matta said of Trimble. “Those guys stepped up. We wanted Cowan to make shots and sure enough he did.” Maryland plays Wednesday at Northwestern while Ohio State is at Michigan State on Tuesday. "Shots were falling today," Huerter said. "Sometimes it comes down to who makes shots late in the game."

Feb. 9, 2017
TOWSON, MARYLAND - The hottest Division I team in the state of Maryland is not the Terps. It is Towson, which won for the eighth time in nine tries with a win at home Thursday night against Hofstra in CAA action 69-65. The Tigers are now 8-5 in CAA play this year.
“I really challenged them at halftime about our defense," Towson head coach Pat Skerry told reporters. "It was just a phenomenal effort defensively. I also thought Eddie Keith came up big for us on the boards. He had a couple of man-sized rebounds for us tonight. It’s different guys on different nights every night.”

Feb. 8, 2017
WASHINGTON - You can't make this stuff up. VCU senior guard JeQuan Lewis, from a small-town in Tennessee, stepped up big again as he made two free throws with 0.4 seconds left as the Rams beat host GW 54-53 on Wednesday night. On Saturday, Lewis made a free throw with 0.5 seconds left at St. Bonaventure to send the game into overtime and VCU eventually won.
GW appeared to have won the game when Yuta Watanbe hit a 3-pointer in the closing seconds. But Lewis was fouled on a sneaky inbounds play as the Rams kept their at-large NCAA berth alive.

Feb. 4, 2017
COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND - Maryland freshman guard Kevin Huerter noted that the last time the Terps lost at home they then won seven in a row. Maryland will look to do more of the same after a rare conference home loss here on Saturday, as Purdue made two free throws with 2.1 seconds left for a 73-72 setback. Maryland was up by 12 points midway through the second half but went nearly the last eight minutes of play without a field goal. The Terps play Tuesday at Penn State, then host Ohio State on Saturday.

Jan. 25, 2017
WASHINGTON - Georgetown head coach John Thompson III began his postgame press conference Wednesday night at the Verizon Center with a twist.
"I've heard a lot of people do this, but I never have. But I just want to give God the credit and thank him for the win," said Thompson, who then got a slap on the shoulder from graduate guard Rodney Pryor. The Hoyas beat Creighton 71-51 for just the second conference win for Georgetown this season.

Jan. 24, 2017
COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND - Maryland took care of Rutgers here on Tuesday night as the Terps began the week ranked No. 22 in the country. It may be awhile before Maryland drops out of the top 25, like they did after it beat American at home in the season opener back in November. The Terps start three freshmen to go with junior point guard Melo Trimble. But you get the feeling that even if Trimble leaves for the pro ranks after this season Maryland will be just fine next season with the trio of Kevin Huerter, Justin Jackson and Anthony Cowan as the Fabulous Frosh Trio.

Jan. 23, 2017
WASHINGTON - A season of misery continues for the Hoyas of Georgetown, and the schedule doesn't get any easier. The Hoyas lost Sunday at Xavier and Georgetown is now 1-6 in Big East play this season. Georgetown hosts Creighton on Wednesday and plays Saturday at Butler, so a mark of 1-8 in conference play is entirely possible. I spoke last week with Otto Porter, Jr., a former Georgetown star now with the Washington Wizards, and he said he speaks regularly with Hoyas head coach John Thompson III. Porter said it is tough to watch his former program struggle but couldn't point to one specific reason way the Hoyas have fallen.

Jan. 10, 2017
COLLEGE PARK, Maryland - The Terps held off Indiana 75-72 here on Tuesday night in a game that had the feel of a Big Ten of NCAA tourney game. The Terps had lost in their last home game, against Nebraska, but had won at Michigan on Saturday. The Hooisers have now lost three of four and fell out of the top 25 on Monday. Maryland began the year in the top 25 but fell out after the first week.

A memorable game in Baltimore suburbs
Dec. 19, 2016
CATONSVILLE, Maryland - Maryland, Baltimore County was averaging a respectable 82.2 points per game in its first 10 contests. The Retrievers certainly rose to the occasion at home Monday against The Citadel, which entered the contest leading the nation at nearly 102 points per game. UMBC came away with 120-111 win in double overtime - the most points ever scored by UMBC in a game. The previous best was set in the 1970s against Division III Gallaudet. At a few points in overtime each player on the court had scored at least 10 points.

Cekovsky improves his game at Maryland
Dec. 13, 2016
COLLEGE PARK, Maryland - Terps junior forward Michal Cekovsky averaged less than three points per game as a freshman and sophomore. Now he is averaging more than 10 points per game for Maryland, which is 11-1 after a win at home against Jacksonville State on Monday. The Terps are off until facing Charlotte on Dec. 20 in Baltimore.

Terps off to unbeaten start
Nov. 29, 2016
COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND - Maryland is undefeated going into its home game tonight against Pittsburgh in the ACC/Big 10 challenge. The Terps lost four standout players to the pro ranks - Jake Layman and Diamond Stone were drafted by the NBA, Robert Carter, Jr. is in Italy and Rasheed Suliamon is in the D-league - but junior point guard Melo Trimble and three freshmen have carried the load so far.

Hoyas off the radar in New York
Oct. 11, 2016
NEW YORK - Georgetown head coach John Thompson III told me today he has never had a fifth-year transfer. The Hoyas have one now, and he will be expected to step in and be productive right away.

Trimble attracts attention
Oct. 13, 2016
WASHINGTON - Maryland junior guard Melo Trimble, from nearby Upper Marlboro, was named all-Big Ten earlier this week. Then on Thursday he met the media at the Big Ten media day at a hotel in upper northwest.


David Driver is a native of Harrisonburg, Virginia and played baseball at Turner Ashby High and Eastern Mennonite College (now University). He graduated from EMC in 1985 with a degree in English and a minor in journalism. He has lived in the Washington, D.C. area for nearly 25 years and was the first sports editor of the daily Baltimore Examiner and for nearly 10 years was also the sports editor of Laurel (Md.) Leader, now part of the Baltimore Sun Media Group. He is now a full-time free-lance writer and is the main correspondent for The Sports Xchange, a national content provider for UPI/Reuters, in the coverage of the Washington Nationals. He also covers major college basketball in the Baltimore-Washington region for The Sports Xchange and in the past covered college and pro sports for The Associated Press as a free-lancer. Read more

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Kemp living the dream as Baysox infielder

June, 2016

By David Driver
For the Baltimore Sun Media Group
Used with permission

Courtesy photo / HANDOUT BOWIE, MARYLAND - Bowie Baysox infielder Jeff Kemp grew up in Bowie and started going to Baysox games when he was about 5 years old.

A few years later, he went to a game in 1998 with his youth team and he and his teammates were able to go on the field before the first pitch.

Kemp, then 8 years old, found himself standing beside Baysox third baseman Ryan Minor and Kemp's father took a photo of the two of them.

So you can imagine what a thrill it was for Archbishop Spalding grad Kemp when he was drafted by the parent Baltimore Orioles in 2013, and the next season played for manager Minor with the low Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds in Salisbury.

The excitement has increased this season as Kemp had advanced to Double-A Bowie for the first time. But Kemp has had to adjust to a new role as a utility infielder after he was used mostly an everyday player the past two seasons at the Single-A level.

"I kind of knew going into that was probably going to happen," Kemp said. "Most of the guys were here last year; that was a team that won the (Eastern League) title" for the first time. Read more

CAA football once again a national player

July 2016

By David Driver
For the Press Herald and Maine Today
Used with permission

Credit: Portland Press Herald // Dan Collins will be in the running to be the University of Maine's starting quarterback this fall. BALTIMORE — Joe Harasymiak has a reliable sounding board as he makes the transition from defensive coordinator to head coach at the University of Maine.

That would be Jack Cosgrove, who stepped down last November after 23 years as the Black Bears’ head football coach. Cosgrove now works as the senior associate director of athletics at Maine.

“A lot of it has been everything (else),” Harasymiak said. “That has been the biggest change for me. As an assistant you watch film. Now it is 95 guys (to be in charge of). Everyone is on me. When I reach out to Coach Cos it has not been (about) football stuff.”

The first-year coach has plenty of work to do after Maine finished 3-8 last season. On Tuesday, the Black Bears were picked to finish ninth of 12 teams at the Colonial Athletic Association’s football media day at M&T Bank Stadium. The poll was compiled from votes by league coaches and sports information directors.

“We can’t get too caught up on where people pick us,” said Harasymiak, who at 30 is the nation’s youngest Division I head coach.

Maine’s Pat Ricard, an all-CAA preseason pick on the defensive line, noted that the Black Bears were picked to finish eighth in 2013 but won the CAA title. Last season Maine was 3-5 in the league. Read more