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Full Court Press: Points of emphasis making a difference

Isaiah Whitehead - Seton Hall (Photo by Catalina Fragoso - Double G Media)

Isaiah Whitehead – Seton Hall (Photo by Catalina Fragoso – Double G Media)


Heading down the home stretch, most players, coaches and others that closely follow the men’s college basketball game have expressed satisfaction with the changes in how the game is played and officiated this year.

The emphasis on allowing the offensive player (primarily the dribbler and player movement through the post) with more freedom of movement, ie, less hand checking and the arm bar, has allowed for more scoring opportunities.

Teams and coaches have had to go back to the basic defensive fundamentals of moving your feet, communicating and boxing-out rather than the bad habit of “team-holding” to stop an opponent.

But many feel that there are a few other tweaks that will enhance the college game.

There is talk of widening the foul lane, adjusting the shot clock to the NBA 24 seconds and allowing the ball to be put in play at half court during a time out in the last minute of play as well as others.

I would love to see the foul line widened as it would continue to free up congestion in the paint, which still gets pretty nasty at times.

I also like having the ball advanced to half court during time outs in end of game situations at some point in the last minute of play. This would allow for a new element of strategy to be introduced into the college game and give the team who saved their time out to have a legitimate chance to win or tie a ball game, rather than chuck up a three-quarter court prayer.

The shot clock, I’m not so sure the college guys are ready for this change, as it would force them to think and play with a much higher and more mature basketball IQ. But I wouldn’t protest if the shot clock went to 24 seconds.

This year the women changed from two halves to four quarters.
The men should follow suit.

I hope the powers to be move forward and make these changes in time for next year.

It’s all about improving the game for coaches, players, game officials and fans.

Pride drops first place battle in CAA

The Hofstra Pride lost a first-place battle at home to UNC-Wilmington when Denzel Ingram nailed a 3-pointer with 3.6 seconds left to give UNCW a 70-67. The Seahawks are in sole possession of first place at 9-2, while Hofstra is 8-3. Hofstra’s Juan’ya Green recorded a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while sophomore Rokas Gustys grabbed a career-high 21 rebounds in a losing effort.

What made it a bitter pill to swallow was the Pride squandered a 20-point lead.

William & Mary moved into a tie for second place with the Pride with an  86-77 win at Northeastern. Omar Prewitt poured in a game-high 28 points to lead the Tribe.

James Madison remained in the title chase following a 78-56 triumph at Drexel. Senior guard Ron Curry poured in a team-high 16 points for the Dukes (7-4 in CAA).

Robinson and Monmouth rule the MAAC

Coach King Rice and his Monmouth Hawks (18-5, 10-2 MAAC) continue to sit at the top of the MAAC standings with Iona (12-9, 9-3 MAAC) and Siena (15-8, 8-4 MAAC) hot on their heels.

Last Monday, the Hawks dynamic 5-foot 8-inch point guard, Justin Robinson, torched Siena for 36 points in leading Monmouth to a crucial MAAC road win.

Robinson, who is averaging 20.8 ppg, has been making the case all season long why he should be considered the favorite for MAAC Player of the Year.

The Hawks face a potential trap game against the Fairfield Stags (12-10, 6-6 MAAC) this evening.

Taking care of business

This looks like the year Coach Steve Pikiel and his Seawolves (18-4, 9-0 America East) will finally erase the demons of years past and advance to the NCAA tournament.

The Seawolves are led by Jameel Warney (Plainfield, N.J.) the two-time reigning America East Player of the Year. Warney was recently named a finalist for the Karl Malone Award.

Warney is in elite company as he joins Arizona’s Ryan Anderson, Baylor’s Taurean Prince, Gonzaga’s Kyle Wiltjer, Iowa State’s Georges Niang, Kansas’ Perry Ellis, Louisiana-Lafayette’s Shawn Long, Marquette’s Henry Ellenson, New Mexico State’s Pascal Siakam and North Carolina’s Brice Johnson as finalists.

Warney is averaging 18.0 points, 10.4 rebounds and 3.1 blocks, joining NM State’s Siakam as the only Division I players to lead their conference in points, rebounds and blocks.

Ancient Eight

No surprise here but the Yale Bulldogs sit at the top of the Ivy standings with a 4-0 mark.

The Bulldogs sport an eight game winning streak (13-5 overall).

In a bit of surprise to some, the red-hot Columbia Lions (15-6, 4-0 Ivy) are deadlocked with Yale heading into tonight’s showdown in New Haven (Fox Sports 1, 5 p.m.).

The two teams will meet again in NYC on March 5.

The Ivies are the only Division 1 conference in the country that has scheduled their league games on back-to-back nights.

A final word

Seton Hall’s sophomore guard Isaiah Whitehead is in elite company as he is one of a handful of players across the country to lead their conference in points and assists.

Whitehead is scoring at a 16.2 ppg clip in the Big East (5th) while registering 4.7 apg (3rd).

Providence College junior Kris Dunn leads this category with a 17.2 ppg scoring rate while dishing out 9 apg.


Keep shooting!

Follow Bob on Twitter for all the latest in college hoop happenings, game highlights, features and more: @WhitneyBob

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Bob Whitney

Bob is a college basketball columnist here at He also covers Yale football and the Connecticut Sun of the WNBA.
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