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Duke Lost??

By Bob DiCesare

Sometimes the participants are the last to know.

UConn seniors Shabazz Napier and Niels Giffey were fielding questions from the riser Friday afternoon when they were asked to comment on the uncertain nature of the NCAA Tournament, what with Louisville barely escaping and Duke getting beat. It went like this:

Giffey: Duke lost?
Napier Duke lost?
Moderator Paul Vecchio: Duke lost, yeah, to Mercer.
Napier: Oh, wow!
Vecchio: I like your focus. You haven't been paying attention.
Giffey: No, I haven't.
Napier: Wow! That's just how the tournament is. Just on any given day, Duke can lose. Louisville could have lost. Who did they play? Mercer?
Vecchio: Mercer.
Napier: That's a good team.

Villanova will need more accurate long-distance dialups to keep playing

283324 Villanova Milwauk#18
By John Vogl

Villanova and Connecticut took different roads to their pending matchup in the NCAA Tournament. UConn advanced with its three-point shooting. Villanova moved on despite it.

UConn earned an 89-81 overtime victory against Saint Joseph's on the strength of its 11-for-24 showing from beyond the arc. The Huskies' accuracy allowed them to stay close after Saint Joseph's came out firing.

Villanova, meanwhile, was just 4 for 23 from three-point land and missed its first 16 attempts. It resulted in a scare for the second-seeded Wildcats, who eventually pulled away for a 73-53 win over Milwaukee.

Villanova will need to shoot much better to drop the Huskies on Saturday in the third round of their East Regional.

"We've had some games like this," coach Jay Wright said today in First Niagara Center. "I think it's like baseball. If you're a .300 hitter, the numbers are going to play out and you're going to make shots.

"I know these guys are good shooters. After it's over and you win, I like it better because you get the confidence that we can win when we're not making shots."

Villanova (29-4) had a shooting percentage of .365 on three-pointers entering the tournament, but it was slowed by James Bell's 0-for-8 showing Thursday. He was 81 of 211 (38.4 percent) during the season.

"As a shooter, you're going to have good nights, and you're going to have bad nights," Bell said. "It's not about making the shots. It's about taking the right ones and recognizing you're open."

Jay Wright's first NCAA trip to Buffalo: 'We got hammered after the game'

 

612389 NCAA scull 06#8
Jay Wright, coach from Villanova, says he loves Buffalo. (Photo by Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)


By Tim Graham

Hey, Buffalo. Meet your new favorite college basketball coach.

He's Jay Wright from Villanova, and he loves your town.

Wright this afternoon reminisced about his first time in Buffalo, where his 14th-seeded Hofstra squad faced third-seeded Oklahoma State in the 2000 NCAA tournament.

"We got hammered," Wright said. "We were happy to be here. We got hammered, and we got hammered after the game.

"We were so happy to be here."

Hofstra returned to the NCAA tournament again in 2001, helping Wright get the Villanova job that spring.

Villanova has gone to the tourney nine of the past 10 years, but Buffalo will always hold a special place in Wright's heart.

"My wife and I were riding over on the bus yesterday, and it was the exact same snowy, lake-effect day," Wright said. "It was St. Patrick's Day. We got hammered in this building by Oklahoma State. ... I heard Doug Gottlieb talking on TV yesterday about somebody's shooting. He couldn't make a foul shot in that game.

"We had Speedy Claxton at Hofstra. He was a great guard. They were big and physical. They had a two guard [Norm Richardson] who went to the NBA. He came off a ball screen early and ran over to me at the bench and his finger was [dislocated]. I was, like, 'Oh, we're dead now.' They re-set it, but they hammered us.

"I think Bobby Knight played his last game with Indiana here, too, that same night. It was amazing."

If UConn's Calhoun steps back into coaching, he can expect a resume from Napier

By John Vogl

During a conversation with Jim Calhoun the other day, the Connecticut coaching legend made it sound like he was ready to come back to the sidelines after two seasons away. Today, ESPN linked him to the opening at Boston College.

The Huskies wouldn't be surprised if Calhoun left his job as a university special assistant to return to coaching.

"He has so much to give," UConn guard Shabazz Napier said in First Niagara Center. "If he feels like he wants to get back in coaching, then so be it. If he does, wherever he goes, I'm going to be a fan of that team.

"Hopefully, when I'm done with my career, he'll give me a job."

Calhoun has a history of putting friends in high places. He hired Kevin Ollie as an assistant, and his former player is now the Huskies' coach. Ollie could see himself challenging his mentor for victories.

"If that's what he wants to do, I'm going to be supporting him," said Ollie, who playfully suggested Calhoun doesn't really want to come back. "I know he's enjoying his vacations he's taking in January playing golf. I don't know if he wants to pass up on those.

"But if he wants to get back in the game, more power to him. He earns that right. He earns that respect."

Ennis reunites with CIA Bounce alum Pierre

By Rodney McKissic

It will be a reunion of sorts for Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis and Dayton sophomore forward Dyshawn Pierre, who were teammates with the Canadian-based AAU program CIA Bounce.

Both are coming off strong performances in their second round matchups on Thursday. In his first NCAA Tournament game, Ennis helped the Orange easily dispatch Western Michigan, 77-53, with 16 points and six assists.

In the Flyers 60-59 upset over Ohio State, Dayton trailed 57-55 when Pierre was fouled on a three-point attempt with 26 seconds left and calmly canned all three free throws. That proved to be the difference after each team exchanged baskets, including Vee Stanford’s winner.

“Dyshawn is one of those players where you have to watch him a couple of games to really appreciate how good he is,” Ennis said. “I’ve watched him go up against nearly everybody in that class and really go at them. He’s really an underrated player and one of their keys.”

Ennis played one summer with Pierre on Bounce, the program run by Tony McIntyre, Ennis’ father. He starred at Anderson Collegiate Vocational Institute in Whitby, Ont., where he registered over 3,500 points and nearly 1,800 rebounds.

“At first you look at him and his game is a little awkward but as you keep watching him you can see his mid-range game and finishing around the basket,” Ennis said. “Offensively, he has the full package but he does a great job.”

Ennis spoke with Pierre briefly today about Bounce alums still the NCAAs and making noise throughout college basketball. That includes Ennis’ brother, Dylan, from Villanova, Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins and Iowa State’s and Melvin Ejim and Naz Long.

“It will be a great day for Canada basketball to have two players on this level contributing and going at each other,” Ennis said. “It’s a big step for us to have this many players and having so many contributors not only playing on these teams but contributing throughout the country.”

While Dayton has been winning its close games, Syracuse has struggled

By Tim Graham

Sometimes, a team needs to learn how to win the close ones.

The Dayton Flyers have done that this season. In games decided by a single-digit margin, the Flyers have won six of their past seven, including Thursday's heart-stopping 60-59 victory over the Ohio State Buckeyes in First Niagara Center.

The Flyers likely need to keep it close if they want to score another upset. They'll play the Syracuse Orange downtown at 7:10 p.m. Saturday.

"You know, it's funny," Dayton forward Devin Oliver said this afternoon. "Last year, we lost about eight or nine games ... by, like, a total of 10 points or something crazy like that.

"So we went through it last year. We just happened to come out on the losing end of it."

Dayton was in six games decided by one or two points last season and lost all of them, once in overtime.

This season, Dayton went 2-2 in games decided by one point or two points, 1-1 in overtime (both games by three points) and 10-7 in games decided by single digits.

But the Flyers have been clutch since February. In the span of seven games -- all against Atlantic 10 opponents -- they won five by seven points or fewer. Their only single-digit loss in over two months was to the St. Joe's Hawks in the conference championship game.

Dayton guard Vee Sanford banked in a runner from 5 feet away with 3.8 seconds left to beat Ohio State on Thursday.

"It was a very big shot personally, but I'm kind of just getting that out of the way," Sanford said. "I want to focus on tomorrow. That's the main thing.

"It was a good win, but now it's Syracuse we've got to focus on."

Syracuse went 12-4 this season in games decided by a single-digit margin, but it lost four of its past five, a turbulent stretch that dates back to Feb. 19.

Live blog: Atlantic Hockey semifinals Canisius vs. Mercyhurst, 4 p.m.

Dayton's Orange "insider" says he has no secrets on solving SU zone

By Mark Gaughan

The University of Dayton basketball coaching staff has an "insider" to help it prepare for Saturday's meeting with Syracuse University.

Dayton aide Allen Griffin spent four years playing under Jim Boeheim at Syracuse and was a starting guard for two of his seasons. Griffin said he has no great secret to solving Syracuse's vaunted zone.

"You can’t make up a secret for 7-foot, 6-11 and 6-8," Miller said before his team's practice session today at First Niagara Center. "We’ve just got to be aggressive and confident against the zone."

Miller maintains a close relationship with Boeheim, as well as Syracuse assistants Mike Hopkins and Adrian Autry.

ll send Julie some text messages throughout the year. I talk to Adrian every day, pretty much. ... Coach Hopkins is probably the mentor for me in this business. Whenever I run into a jam or a situation, I make sure that I call him and get his advice."

Boeheim said he still considers Griffin an Orangeman.

"I know he’s got under -- someplace on him -- he’s got something orange," Boeheim said. "It’s not going to be in view. He’s a great kid, a great Syracuse, as good as we’ve ever had."

Syracuse defense is no laughing matter for Dayton

By Tim Graham

A reporter asked Dayton basketball coach Archie Miller what kind of challenge Syracuse poses.

"Ha!" Miller blurted out.

Syracuse is a perennial power. It was ranked No. 1 in the country just a month ago. Jim Boeheim won his 948th game Thursday in First Niagara Center.

Dayton, meanwhile, is trying to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1984 after upsetting Ohio State. To do so, it must stun Syracuse here Saturday.

Miller looks like he could be Boeheim's paperboy. But he did deliver more than a visceral laugh when considering Syracuse.

"When people look at Syracuse they will start talking about the zone," Miller said of Syracuse's 2-3 defensive scheme. "But their concepts revolve around talent and speed and length.

"On both ends of the floor they take advantage of all spots."

Syracuse opponents averaged 59.3 points a game. Opponents made 41 percent of their shots this season. Syracuse averaged four more rebounds and nearly four more steals per game.

Syracuse easily beat Western Michigan, 77-53, on Thursday. Western Michigan shot 34.7 percent from the field. Syracuse had a 41-25 edge in rebounds and blocked six shots.

Dayton advanced despite a sloppy offense because Ohio State happened to be sloppier.

"We're going to have to be very sharp on offense," Miller said. "Obviously, going against something we haven't seen before is going to feel funny, but I think if we just stick with it and play our game ...

"The ball's got to move. We have to move and move quick. That's going to be a big part of the game. If it's a half-court game for us or we're standing around, it's not going to work well."

Carr earns All-America hockey honors at Buffalo State

by Amy Moritz
 
Big news for Buffalo State men's hockey as senior Kevin Carr became just the second player to earn All-America honors.
 
Carr was named to the All-America Third Team by the American Hockey Coaches Association of America.
 
The goaltender played in every game for the Bengals this season, posting a school-record .929 save percentage along with a 2.57 goals against average. His 10 wins helped Buffalo State reach the SUNYAC semifinals for the third-straigh year. Not an easy get when you consider two SUNYAC schools -- Oswego and Geneseo -- are in the Division III Frozen Four.
 
In all, Carr set 10 program records for the Bengals, including career marks for saves (3,225), save percentage (.921), wins (45) and shutouts (9).
 
Carr, who is scheduled to earn his bachelor's degree this May in health and wellness, signed a pro contract and is playing with the  Peoria Rivermen of the Southern Professional Hockey League.
 
Todd Nowicki was Buffalo State’s only other All-American when he earned second team honors in 2001-02 after scoring 23 goals and 46 points.
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About Campus Watch

Bob Dicesare

Bob DiCesare

Western New York native Bob DiCesare covers UB football, Big 4 basketball and writes an occasional column. He still holds a grudge against Chris Ford who, he's convinced, cost St. Bonaventure the 1970 NCAA basketball championship.

@TBNDicesare | bdicesare@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has covered colleges for The Buffalo News since 1999. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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