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Full Court Press: What’s With That Bench? Monmouth and It’s Bench Continue To Steal The Show



The Monmouth Hawks have been raising some eyebrows in the first third of the season, not only for their penchant to knock off nationally-recognized basketball powers, but also for their highly-televised sideline celebrations.

Coach King Rice and his Hawks (7-3, 1-1 MAAC) continue to play the role of giant-killer as they have notched victories over UCLA, Notre Dame, USC and their latest victim, the Georgetown Hoyas.
Last Tuesday night at the Verizon Center, the Blue and White whipped the Hoyas, 83-68.
The Hawks were led by senior guard Deon Jones (Wilmington, DE) with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Rice’s bench has provided a boost of sorts to the team’s national profile with their animated and creative sideline, Sports Center-like, celebrations.

The Hawks will get another resume-building opportunity this Sunday with an in-state rivalry matchup against Rutgers.

Monmouth is having a phenomenal non-league season but the big question will be can they survive the rigors of the regular conference schedule, when the MAAC gets into full swing come January?
The tip at The RAC is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. and will be telecast on BTN Plus. The Hawks radio call is on Shore Sports Network (1160/1310am) with play-by-play by Eddy Occhipinti while Steve Bazaz provides the color.

A Big East rivalry that used to be

Last Sunday, the Red Storm downed long-time and former Big East rival Syracuse (7-3), 84-72, in what can be considered a mild upset and a potential, post-season resume-building win.
Federico Mussini (Reggio Emilia, Italy) led the way for the Red Storm with 17 points including five 3-pointers.

Coach Chris Mullin and the Johnnies are on a roll having won three-straight.
Durand Johnson (Baltimore, Md.) added 15 points along with seven rebounds and four assists.
Mullin has certainly elevated the level of play well beyond what most expected (including this writer) before the season started.

The body of work has been impressive in the first third of the season but judgement must be reserved until the Red Storm moves into the teeth of their Big East schedule.
They love to shoot the 3 and play a fun to watch brand of basketball!!!

Ivy League update

The Ivy League enters their annual cruise control mode over the holidays with a very light schedule.
Things will definitely heat up when the regular season starts in earnest on January 9 (Dartmouth vs. Harvard, Penn vs. Princeton).

Most recently, Columbia junior forward Luke Petrasek (East Northport, N.Y.) was named Ivy League Player of the Week as he helped the Lions to wins over Manhattan and NJIT.
Petrasek (26 points, 4 boards) nailed the game-winning three-pointer as Columbia beat the Jaspars on the road.

Against NJIT Petrasek rejected a career-best five shots to go with nine points and seven boards.
It was the second time this season Petrasek earned POTW honors.
Yale senior, Justin Sears, (Plainfield, N.J.) had an impressive week as he poured in 21 points (9 boards) against Illinois and 14 points against USC.

They finished!

The UCONN Huskies finally finished off a highly-regarded opponent as the whipped Ohio State (4-5), 75-55, at Gampel last Saturday.

Coach Kevin Ollie had his squad amped-up from the opening whistle as they overwhelmed the Buckeyes in the first half by taking a commanding, 45-24, lead at the intermission.

The Huskies will tune up for a huge road game against Shaka Smart and the Texas Longhorns (12/29) with UMass-Lowell (12/20) and Central Connecticut State (12/23).
Then comes the AAC!

Did you know?

Cornell faces Syracuse this Saturday, December 19, in the Carrier Dome.

The last time a Cornell team beat the ‘Cuse was in 1968 by the score of 81-67. I know, I was on the Barton Hall tartan floor for the Big Red in that one!

The double-doubles by Princeton juniors Henry Caruso, Pete Miller and Spencer Weisz at Lipscomb on December 12 marked the first time three Tiger players achieved double-doubles in the same game.


Monmouth’s win over Georgetown last week marked the first time a Hawk squad beat a Big East opponent.

Last week the Old Dominion University girls basketball team racked up the 1,000 win in their storied history.

ODU joined Tennessee, Louisiana Tech and James Madison in that elite group of women’s basketball programs.

Last Sunday’s game between the Johnnies and the ‘Cuse at MSG marked the 90th meeting in one of college hoops most competitive rivalries.


On Thursday the Connecticut Sun (WNBA) announced that they have hired Curt Miller as coach replacing Hall Of Famer Anne Donovan who resigned as coach at the end of last season. Miller has an extensive college coaching background at Indiana University and Bowling Green University.

Most recently, Miller served as an assistant for LA Sparks (WNBA).

The Sun is a strong franchise and has a very loyal and amazing fan base that is deserving of a winning team. Good luck Curt!


Have a great holiday season…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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