Posts Tagged With: Men’s basketball

Taking a look around the region: Shaw

Who are they?

Shaw University (located in Raleigh, North Carolina) is currently the No. 9 team in the National Association of Basketball Coaches Division II poll. This is the highest ranking in the history of the men’s basketball program at Shaw. Last week SU raised its record to 21-2 and continued its 17-game win streak.  Shaw is 13-0 in the CIAA and 7-0 in the Southern Division.  With its win over Johnson C. Smith on Feb. 13, the Bears clinched the division title.

Stars to watch

Shaw averages 79 points per contest and are led by a senior duo of Malik Alvin and Tony Smith. Alvin averages close to 21 ppg, which is good enough for 16th nationally.  As a team, Shaw is currently sixth in Division II in field goal percentage, hitting 52.5 percent of their shots. Dishing the ball out to Alvin is point guard Smith. Smith is 12th in the nation in assists with six per game. He is also a force on the defensive end, bringing down a team-high 142 rebounds.

Last time against the Hilltoppers

The last time these two teams met was a year ago in an Atlantic Region semifinal with West Liberty defeating Shaw, 98-93. Both teams started the game even as WLU held a one-point lead at the half, 48-47. But the Hilltoppers were able to pull away, little by little, as the Bears never had a second half lead.

Should WLU keep an eye out for them?

Absolutely. Shaw is not the No. 9 team in the nation for nothing. This team has the capability to keep up with the Hilltopper on offense. It will be WLU’s defense that win’s this matchup if the two should face off in the tournament.

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Taking a look around the region

The NCAA Divison II Regional men’s basketball rankings were released on Wednesday with West Liberty holding the number one spot in the Atlantic Region. The region is made up of teams from the WVIAC, CIAA, and PSAC.

Here’s a look at how the rest of the region plays out:

NCAA Division II Atlantic Region Rankings
(Through games of Sunday, Feb. 12)
1. West Liberty (22-1, 21-1)
2. Shaw (NC) (20-2, 19-2)
3. Charleston (19-5, 19-4)
4. Alderson-Broaddus (17-5, 17-5)
5. Bowie State (MD) (19-4, 18-4)
6. Indiana, Pa. (18-4, 17-4)
7. Winston-Salem State (NC) (17-5, 15-5)
8. Wheeling Jesuit (16-7, 16-7)
9. W.Va. Wesleyan (15-6, 15-6)
10. Mercyhurst (PA) (15-7, 15-7)
From now untill the NCAA Division II Atlantic Regional tournament begins on March 9, I will preview other teams in the region and tell how they may fair against the Hilltoppers.
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The good, the bad and the ugly

There are many things to take away from the No. 2-ranked Hilltoppers 84-73 victory against West Virginia State on Thursday.

First, the good.

With the win, West Liberty (24-1, 19-0) is now the only school in Division II to have one loss. No. 1 Bellarmine was upset by No. 11 Southern Indiana 75-72 on Thursday. That means that if WLU can win its game against Glenville State on Saturday (which it should do with flying colors), the Hilltoppers should be the No. 1 team in nation when the polls are released Tuesday morning. West Liberty held down the No. 1 spot for several weeks last season as a senior-laden lineup reeled off 33 straight wins.

Now, the bad.

Thursday night’s victory came with a price. Junior forward Chris Morrow  fell heavily to the court after a flagrant foul by WVSU’s Robbie Lewis with only a few minuets left to play. Morrow remained on the court while being treated by the Hilltopper training staff before being helped off the floor. He watched the final few seconds from the sidelines with ice packs on his right shoulder and left knee. Athletic Director Jim Watson said he couldn’t release information on the injury in detail but reports that Morrow is day-to-day.

Finally, the ugly.

West Liberty came into the game shooting 51% from the floor but only connected on 44% of their shots on Thursday. This let the Yellow Jackets (12-11, 10-9) hang around for the whole game.  The two teams were tied at 43 when the halftime buzzer sounded and neither team lead by more than double figures untill within the final four minuets of the game. The Hilltoppers were able to turn a 72-68 lead into a 83-68 by hitting 11-of-13 from the charity stripe.

WLU, the nation’s leader in free throw percentage, maybe got a little bit lucky with this win. The game was defiantly closer than what the score dictates and the Hilltoppers must realize that there is a target on their back. They have to bring the same energy and intensity to ever game and not just judge a team by their record. On any given Sunday? How about on any given Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday?  West Liberty is a better team then that and they know it. Now they must prove in when they welcome Glenville State (6-17, 5-14) to the ASRC on Saturday.

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Hilltoppers Three-Peat

The No. 2-ranked West Liberty men’s basketball team won its third straight WVIAC Title on Monday night with a 107-73 victory against second place Alderson-Broaddus.

The Hilltoppers (23-1, 18-0) topped the century mark for the tenth time in the last 11 games and shot better than 50 percent from the floor for the 15th time this year. With the win, WLU also extended the nation’s longest winning streak to 21 games.

For a team that lost four 1,000-point scorers due to graduation, the odds seemed to have been against West Liberty to pull the three-peat, especially with two weeks of the regular season left to play.

“It’s shocking to win a conference championship this early,” said Coach Jim Crutchfield. “It’s surprising; it’s something I didn’t think was going to happen with losing a lot of players from last year’s team, but these guys have really stepped up with a great level of intensity. We’re savoring a West Virginia Conference Championship.”

With the loss of Corey Pelle, John Wolosinczuk, Jordan Fortney and Barry Shetzer, many coaches around the WVIAC thought that the Hilltoppers would have a rebuilding year, giving their teams a chance to take the conference. Cruthfield had other plans.

“I know people were saying and thinking we might be down a little bit this year and I hate to disappoint them but we’re playing pretty good.”

Pretty good? How about pretty damn good.

West Liberty once again leads the nation in scoring, averaging over 103 points per contest. WLU also boasts a winning margin of 22.5, a stat which has not gone unnoticed with fellow conference coaches.

“We don’t have a lot of variety of styles of play,” said Crutchfield. “We basically play one way. We play man-to-man defense and we run and jump when the opportunity occurs. When these guys get in, they play our defense. It’s not like I’m going to send them in and say hey you need to play someone else’s’ defense here because we want to be politically correct about this and not hurt people’s feelings. We just play a game.”

So does Crutchfield sense a level of disappointment from his fellow coaches?

“Well, possibly, but I’m not that sensitive of a guy. It’s not like I’m losing sleep over it or anything.”

The Hilltoppers will be in action on Thursday as the team travels to Institute, WV to face West Virginia State. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m.

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