Thursday, March 19, 2009

Some Notes from Tournament Fields

This blogger was listening to ESPN radio Thursday morning to hear college football analyst Beano Cook talking about the NCAA basketball tournament. Mr. Cook doesn't like the fact that some teams are playing in, basically, home-court venues.

Cook specifically mentioned Ohio State playing against Siena in Dayton, about 70 miles away from the Buckeyes' campus.

"It's not necessarily their home court, but it's like Notre Dame playing in the Vatican," said Cook. "It's not the court, it's the crowd support, and the crowd for the game will definitely be rooting for Ohio State.

"Ask any coach which he'd rather have ... a familiar court and no crowd support, or crowd support and an unfamiliar court. They'll all tell you they'd rather have the crowd support.

"Ohio State is basically playing a home game (against Siena Friday night). It's not fair."

Elsewhere ... a bunch of MAAC-related personalities are involved in post-season play.

FORMER Siena College standout Jack McClinton (he was a freshman for the Saints in the 2004-05 season) has helped his Miami (Fla.) team advance to the second round of the NIT with a 78-66 victory over Providence on Wednesday night.

McClinton had a game-high 25 points, 21 of them coming on a career-high matching seven three-pointers. McClinton has a single-season school record 98 treys so far this season, as well as holding the program's career record for bonus shots made with 283.

Providence's team includes former Manhattan guard Jeff Xavier, who had six points in the game.

McCLINTON'S next game, ironically enough, will enable him to renew acquaintances with his former Siena coach, Rob Lanier. Miami meets Florida in the second round of the NIT Friday at 7 p.m. in Gainsville, Fla., (ESPNU).

Lanier, who recruited McClinton to Siena and was the coach there for the player's freshman season, is now an assistant at Florida. Siena fired Lanier after the 2004-05 season, and McClinton opted to transfer after Lanier's dismissal.

MICHIGAN, a No. 10 seed which plays Clemson today (Thursday), is coached by former Canisius head man John Beilein, who directed the Golden Griffins' program from the 1992-93 season through 1996-97.

WAKE FOREST, a No. 4 seed in the NCAA event which plays Friday against Cleveland State, is coached by former Loyola head man Dino Gaudio.

NIAGARA of the MAAC was an NIT participant, dropping a 66-62 first-round game to Rhode Island in a contest played at the Taps Gallagher Center on Niagara's campus.

ANOTHER first-round casualty in the NIT was Jacksonville (an 84-62 loss to Florida on Wednesday). The Dolphins are coached by Cliff Warren, who was a Siena assistant for three seasons. Warren worked at Siena under Paul Hewitt, and followed Hewitt to Georgia Tech where he was also an assistant for four seasons before becoming the head man at Jacksonville in 2005.

ON THE WOMEN'S side of things, conference member Marist plays its first-round NCAA Tournament game Saturday (10:30 p.m. eastern time, ESPN2) against Virginia, where Angel Elderkin serves as an assistant. Elderkin spent four seasons as an assistant coach at Siena, prior to becoming a part-time assistant coach at Tennessee. There, the Volunteers won the national title in 2007 with Elderkin on the staff. After that season, she became a full-time assistant coach at Virginia.

IN THE WOMEN'S NIT, Canisius lost its first-round game Wednesday, dropping a 90-65 decision to Syracuse in the Carrier Dome. Golden Griffin seniors Amanda Cavo and Marie Warner had 15 and 13 points, respectively.

The coaching staff at Syracuse has a strong Siena flavor. Head coach Quintin Hillsman and associate head coach Matt Luneau were both previously assistants at Siena, while another Syracuse assistant coach, Mary McKissack-Grimes, played at Siena in the late 1990's and early 2000's.

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