THP #39: KenPom Hell

December 3, 2022 – Worcester, Massachusetts
Holy Cross vs Central Connecticut State
Men’s Basketball

I have no desire to see the best sports. The best sports are boring. I don’t need to see the most talented players or fastest plays.

I want great television. Theater that would make Broadway blush. I want a show.

Modern sports frustrate me with the endless, ruthless quest to be correct. It takes the theatrical spectacle out of it all.

Replay is a pest that does nothing but erase millions of collective minutes from our lives and push the games I love further down the hole of becoming more equation than entertainment event.

Sports are contested by humans and humans mess up. It happens. It sucks when it goes against your team but it happens. It’s the glob of paint on a beautiful canvas. Sure, it’s a wart that sticks out but it makes the whole the whole.

Just because we have the tech to “get everything right” doesn’t mean we should, especially because they don’t even get it right all the time. No one knows what a catch is in football anymore, hockey has gotten marred by plays getting called back by minutes-old offsides, and out-of-bounds plays in this fair sport have gotten down to the microscopic level to see who it went off last.

The spectacle I fell in love with gets punted aside in the misguided quest to optimize everything to hell because of the thought that correct = good. I don’t want everything to be pinpoint correct. I want it to be fun. To be frustrating. To tell a story and make a memory. That’s what sports are to me.

And now here’s your moment with Bella

The Good Eats

Are donuts breakfast or dessert? For that matter, is it correctly spelled as donuts or doughnuts?

No matter your thoughts on the matter, we can all agree that donuts are delicious wonderful treats of heavenly goodness. And man, am I lucky to have high-quality donuts right here in town at Rocco’s.

It’s a tiny shop. It’s really just a small space to stand, a register, a merch shelf, and a large kitchen. There are two other locations in nearby Millbury and Westborough, both of which aren’t much bigger.

The thing with Rocco’s is that when the donuts are gone for the day they’re gone. There’s no second batch coming and no back room keeping them warm. I’ve walked in two hours before close to be told all the donuts are gone.

Today though I was lucky because I was able to get a whole meal in one shot. It was a maple bacon donut for the proper meal (because bacon is meat and meat must mean its a meal) and a classic chocolate frosted to close the show. These donuts are thick and beefy and amazing.

And I got to pull out my milk cup. It’s a cup. Only for milk. Why? I don’t know; life just worked out that way. Maybe because it’s from a minor league baseball giveaway in 1997 so I try not to beat it up too much.

Are donuts baked goods? They’re fried, at least the good ones are, but I’d still consider them within the baked good universe. Cake donuts aren’t donuts. They are wheel-shaped cake. Nothing wrong with being wheel-shaped cake, but fuck outta here with your donut nonsense.

If you’re passing through Central Massachusetts in the morning stop by Rocco’s and get a donut: a really, really good donut.

The Game

It’s got a mouthful of a name: The Hart Center At The Luth Athletic Complex. We’ll just call it the Hart Center, and it is as wide-ranging a building as I’ve seen in New England.

For starters, there’s a statue of basketball legend Bob Cousy illuminated on the walk into the building.

And inside there is every bit of Holy Cross athletics. There’s the pool and the rowing tank and a gym excusively used for volleyball matches. Across from the basketball arena is the hockey rink.

Every team’s offices are in the building as are locker rooms for everything from hoops and hockey to lacrosse and track. Oh, and there’s a full indoor football field within the building too.

When you walk in the lobby is big and bright and welcoming, always a good thing to have.

And the Hart itself is one of my favorite arenas in all of New England. With the ability to cram 4,000 people in it’s not too big, not too small, just right for basketball.

And the Crusaders have a long history of success on the court. It’s one of only 16 schools to have won an NCAA championship and an NIT title. The banners hang proudly on opposite sides of the arena.

Even in the 21st century, Holy Cross has found great success in the sport. Both the men and women have won multiple Patriot League titles since 2000 but only one (men in 2016) since 2007.

The game itself? Well, it was something. The Crusaders played host to Central Connecticut State in a game featuring #350 in the KenPom rankings hosting #340.

Still though, these are D1 athletes, and CCSU showed it early.

It was back and forth early as neither team could get more than five or six ahead. Play was energetic and the vibes were strong from both teams.

Led by eight points from Gerrale Gates, the Crusaders went into halftime up a bucket.

Holy Cross being the Crusaders, the last Crusaders in Division I, means they don’t sell concessions. They sell…..

Back to basketball, and let’s talk about Gates a bit. He’s the star of this Holy Cross team and has had a Quixotic journey through college basketball. The Charlotte native played his first two years at the University of New Orleans where he averaged 8.4 points over 61 games for the Privateers.

He transferred to Worcester going into the 2020-2021 season and has been an awards machine. Third-Team All-Patriot League that year and second-team last season.

He’s well on his way to joining the 1,000-point club for the Crusaders and plays like this help.

The jumper put Holy Cross up four with 13 minutes to play. We’ll see Gerrale more in a bit.

The second half saw the Crusaders maintain a lead but only a slim one. It never got bigger than six as the Blue Devils kept finding answers but couldn’t turn the corner.

Of course, at one point in this game, the KenPom-ness of it all would show itself and show itself it did with this sequence midway through the second half.

Caleb Kenney had just four points for the home team, but this nifty layup extended the lead back to half a dozen and brought the bench to its feet.

But the Devils persevered, and Kellen Amos was the engine. The junior from Houston came to life in the second half, and this big three cut the gap to three with six minutes to play.

The final few minutes of the game were beautiful chaos. Both teams desperately wanted to get that first D1 win and played with an energy above and beyond what I’d expect from early December basketball.

Amos kept upping his play. He had 16 of his 20 points in the second half. This jumper cut the gap to a single point.

But I did say we’d check back in with Gates. And the possession after Amos made that jumper the North Carolinian stepped up and did what top guys do: make big shots.

Gates’ bucket gave the team some breathing room but the game was still up for grabs. In the final 90 seconds though, the Crusaders put it to bed. Kenney capped it with his final points of the game.

Holy Cross 61, Central Connecticut State 55. Final.
Player of the Game – Gerrale Gates: 22 points, 10-17 shooting, 7 rebounds
Time of Game – 1:40:43

This was such a fun time. Both teams brought it hard, and the crowd was deep into the action. And a 100-minute game? Hell yeah.

I love supporting the local teams. Sure, I could make the drive down to UConn, but why? Supporting the local teams makes me feel closer to my home city and part of something bigger than just a hoops game. Sometimes the cool thing is right under your nose and it was for me on a cold Saturday night.

Oh, and the on-court kids game was a delight too.

Not sure what’s better: TV timeout kids basketball contests of little kid hockey on the ice at intermission.

But yeah, up next is the big 4-0, and trust me, it gets weird. Thanks for reading. Here’s one for the road.

THP #36: A Little Slice Of Home

November 18, 2022 – Worcester, Massachusetts
WPI vs Tufts
Women’s Basketball

My daughter is coming soon. I need an adult.

But I am the adult. It’s so weird to think that I will soon be the one looked at for advice and guidance and to provide a steady hand in tough times. I’m confident I can handle the challenges as they come. It still doesn’t change the fact that I don’t feel like the adult in the room, and my wife feels the same way.

I still feel like a kid. Every time I get off a work call I do something silly to wash my mouth out of having to be professional. All-hands Zoom meeting at work? No thanks. Babbling at and scratching the dog? Yes, please.

The thing is that I don’t need to sell myself out as a father. I’m still gonna be that guy and I’m going to keep loving being that guy. Will things change as a parent? Yes. Will I change myself fundamentally? No.

Something that’s frustrated me as my wife’s pregnancy has progressed is all the bad attempts at humor/life advice I’ve gotten from older family.

“Oh you think you’re tired now….”

“Just you wait. Once she’s born your life is never your own again.”

“Everything’s going to change and it won’t be like it is now.”

Of course it won’t stay exactly the same. My life is going to be better. I get to live the charmed life I’ve been lucky enough to have so far AND have a kickass daughter to bring into the world too.

All of that shitty advice is all cloaked in this sense of negativity and that hurts to hear. I’m still gonna be here blogging. I’m still going to play Wordle at night with my wife. We’re still going to go apple picking in the fall.

Now I can bring Claire to games with me and show her the New England that I love. And now we can help grow her vocabulary with Wordle. And my wife is going to love helping Claire pick her first apples.

My life is still wholly mine and it will become much richer once my daughter is born. I don’t think parenting is going to be that hard. Try. Show up. Be present. Listen. Don’t lie to your kid. Do those five things and everything else falls into place.

Damn, maybe I am ready to be the adult in the room.

Even with a daughter on the way, there’s always time for a moment with Bella.

The Good Eats

Worcester is an excellent food town. There are so many great places to get a bite and few are better than the Miss Worcester Diner. Located at the intersection of Quinsigamond Ave and Southbridge Street, the diner is an icon of the city and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.

The diner shares a lot with an old brick textile mill that opened in the 1870s. Today, the walls of the mill are covered in extensive, beautiful graffiti art.

The vibe of the diner starts with the front door which, like the rest of the place, is covered in stickers.

The stickers are from everything like bands and sports teams and colleges to random brands and trade unions and tourist stickers people have picked up on their travels. Every inch of the interior is covered in stickers including the ceiling.

It’s a tight, cozy place with the grill out in the open for everyone to see. I love places like that.

The wife and I scooted into a booth for breakfast and I went with something completely different: the Polynesian. My wife got an egg combo with french toast because she’s a high-class woman.

The Polynesian was eggs, toast, home fries, but instead of bacon or sausage it was Spam, which I had never had before. Oh, and I added a chocolate chip pancake like I always do, which was big and fluffy and amazing.

But the Polynesian, that was the real stuff.

Spam gets a bad rap. It’s great. It’s a spiced, emulsified ham that has a silky mouth feel and picks up a nice crunch when you sear it on a pan. It perfectly filled in the gaps of my eggs and home fries. The crunchy toast was the cherry on top. If you’re in Worcester, come here.

There’s a reason this is a staple of the city. The food is great and the vibe is even better. Don’t skip Miss Worcester when you come to Central Massachusetts.

Another food icon of Worcester is George’s Coney Island.

This hot dog joint is absolutely beloved around town. When we moved to Worcester multiple people kept telling me that we had to go here. As lovers of hot dogs, the missus and I finally made it.

Hot dogs have been served here since 1929 and inside the history oozes out of the walls.

You can see the line of the left of the photo; it’s always busy here.

One of the signatures of Coney Island is the endless amount of scratch graffiti chiseled into the walls and booths of the restuaurant.

They even sell merch at the counter including postcards and even a book documenting its history.

The main event of course was the hot dogs. I got all of their special dogs: the MRO (mustard, relish, onion), The Works (chili sauce, mustard, onion), and The Garden (MRO toppings plus ketchup).

One ding off the top was the inability order fries, only chips. I love fries with my dogs, but they had Wachusett chips which are local and high quality.

Here’s the thing though: the dogs themselves?

They were flabby steamed dogs that didn’t taste of much. The chili sauce was fine but nothing special. It just made me want to take the drive south to Providence and get some New York System. All the hype I got on this place and for me it was just a really nice neon sign lighting the way to a forgettable meal.

The Game

Worcester Polytechnic Institute was founded in 1865 by tinware manufacturer John Boynton and Ichabod Washburn, owner of the world’s biggest wire mill. Today, The Boynton is a popular watering hole for students just down the road from campus. Washburn also is the namesake of Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. Their teams are called the Ichabods.

Today, WPI has an undergraduate enrollment just over 4,000 and is one of the country’s preeminent scientific research institutions. U.S. News and World Report ranks it 66th academically in the country.

Athletically, the Engineers play in the plainly, yet charmingly, named New England Women’s And Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC), and basketball is the school’s marquee sport.

Despite being nicknamed the Engineers, the school’s mascot, as seen in the photo atop the piece, is Gompei the Goat. In 1891 the sophomore class stole a goat to use as a mascot. Gompei Kuwada tended to the goat because he was the only student with G.K. initials (same as goat keeper). The modern mascot was named in his honor.

And the home of WPI basketball is Harrington Auditorium.

It’s a beautiful old barn in the heart of campus. Inside it eschews the bells and whistles for a straight-up experience.

The entryway has a nice trophy case and that’s it. No table for snacks. No table to take tickets. Admission is free at WPI.

And the gym is spectacular. If walls could talk the stories they would tell of all the hardwood classics played in the Auditorium since it opened in 1968.

To get the bathroom and I vending machine I had to go underneath the stands and down a hallway through a door. It opened up into an area that overlooked the swimming pool and had a sign pointing you to a place that could only really happen at a place like WPI.

The Game

It was actually a doubleheader on this Friday night. The men opened against Maine-Farmington. The WPI men might be New England’s best chance of winning a national title this year. Preseason #8 in the country, the Engineers never trailed against the Beavers.

Sophomore forward John Adams was the national newcomer of the year last season and a preseason second-team All-American this year. It’s easy to see why.

What’s better than having an All-American on your team? Having two. John Lowther was preseason fourth-team and is just as in control on the inside.

This play by Adams and WPI was just really cool. The men beat Farmington, which had preseason third-team Terion Moss, 67-46.

The women closed the show against #11 ranked Tufts, and the Jumbos came to town anchored by junior preseason second-team All-American Maggie Russell.

But the Engineers went 19-5 last year and were ready for the Jumbos. And early on, it was a tit-for-tat kind of game.

Tufts got the better of it early and took a three-point lead after the first quarter.

But WPI was ready and battled back in the second quarter. The Engineers kept finding answers for the Jumbos.

Melanie Presseau’s bucket in the final minute gave the Engineers a five-point lead at intermission.

The third quarter started and the upset was clearly in the cards. The Engineers forced the issue and played their game at their pace and there was nothing Tufts could do.

This triple from Alice Kelly put the hosts up 11 points.

And the party kept going with Kelly at the center of it. She and the Engineers could do no wrong as the lead ballooned to 16 midway through the third.

And then the national title contenders showed up. Tufts chipped away at the deficit. Sixteen became a dozen because nine became five.

The Jumbos held WPI to just two points the final 5:46 of the third quarter and held the Engineers without a field goal for a stretch of 8:01.

Sarah Crossett cut the gap down to two early in the fourth.

But I did mention Maggie Russell, and she saved the best for last.

That jumper tied the game at 44.

She was immense for the Jumbos in the fourth quarter. She had a dozen points in the final eight minutes of the game and carried Tufts every step of the way. She wanted the ball, and she made moments every time she got it.

Her points kept the Jumbos apace with the Engineers and helped Tufts pull ahead in the final minute. But WPI still had a chance.

And look who got the key rebound. Russell would hit both of her free throws to open a three-point gap for Tufts. All the Jumbos had to do was defend for six seconds to pick up a signature road win.

Tufts 60, WPI 57. Final
Player Of The Game: Maggie Russell (Tufts) – 25 points, 8 rebounds
Time of Game – 1:34:59

The basketball was excellent at Harrington. However, the beating heart, the soul, of WPI basketball is the pep band.

I’ve seen a ton of pep bands over the years. Most are fine. Few are exceptional. The WPI band is either the best or second-best pep band I’ve seen in New England. The only other one that would even be in the conversation would be at Northeastern.

They provide fun color throughout the game and bring the energy and support for the home team, but when the horns go up their star shines the brightest.

A good hockey or basketball game is made infinitely better by a good band, and pep bands are basically non-existent at the D3 level. So to have one of the best here in Worcester is a real treat.

Thanks for reading. I know the pep band brought it in a big way, but I’ll still send you out with one for the road.

THP #29: Hometown Check-in

January 25, 2022 – Worcester, Massachusetts
Assumption vs Southern Connecticut State
Women’s Basketball

This was the first of four stops in my adopted hometown of Worcester. My wife and I moved into our house here in July, 2021. With keeping it local for this blog I wanted to look back at the first quarter of The Hoops Project thus far and take stock in what this project is and what I hope for it to become.

The Hoops Project started as a pie-in-the-sky idea in the summer of 2019. The idea, in my head, was to go see a game at all 120 four-year colleges in New England and write a travelogue-esque blog about each one.

It has since become a personal monastic journey into myself with basketball as the crux that drives it forward. Those early posts I thought I was very important by documenting these places and these schools. This blog is important to me, sure, and it’s a footnote of a footnote in the long history of college basketball in America at best.

I love this project. In a way I look at it as my first kid. I’ve had a long career in sports media. I had my first byline in 2008 at the age of 16. I’ve covered NCAA tournaments across all sorts of sports, the NHL, the NBA. I’ve seen all sorts of future pros back in their high school days. I’ve done some TV as well.

Almost all of it runs together. All the football and field hockey and lacrosse and soccer and hockey games have been great experiences; they’re just a jumbled mess of the last 14 years of my life to one degree or another.

With this, it is my own. I have two friends who give me some feedback in the process, but other than that it all comes from me for me. I’m grateful to be in a position to be able to do this. I feel more complete as me when I’m on the road going off to these far-flung places.

So far I’ve driven just roughly 4,500 miles (or just about the distance from my home in Worcester to Anchorage) and added another three miles by foot to get to this project to where it is today. And in all of that travel I’ve learned a few things about myself, basketball, and New England.

I’m more comfortable being alone at a game

Being a high school sports writer makes for many a lonely night on the road. However, when I have my notebook and my laptop I’m working. Like many others, when I’m working I just want to do work and go home.

However, I never would go to a game myself alone as a spectator. It felt wrong. A game should be experienced with a group, with others. But I learned to deeply love being invisible in the crowd.

I’m still a part of the energy and vibe of the crowd, and I can just do my own thing when I want. If I want to chat someone up I can. If I want to sit in a corner and just enjoy ball I can. It’s incredibly freeing to be able to enjoy a game exclusively on your own terms. I recommend everyone try it at least once. It’s the ultimate in relaxation.

Maine is fucking huge

New England is the area of the country with all the small states, but Maine is sneaky big and almost the size of the other five New England states combined.

Maine’s total area: 35,380 square miles
MA, NH, CT, RI, & VT combined: 36, 608 square miles

Maine is bigger than South Carolina and almost the same size as Indiana. That feels so wrong to say, but it’s the truth. My first trip was to Fort Kent, the town atop the East Coast and more north than Montreal and Quebec City.

At the time I was living just north of Boston and it was 420 miles each way to Fort Kent. For context, if I had driven south that same distance I would have ended in the suburbs between Baltimore and Washington.

Traveling the Pine Tree State is no joke. I love The Great State of Maine.

I’ve become a keen follower of higher ed in the region.

The engine that drives this project is college basketball. There needs to be colleges with teams to travel to. Since the project started a handful of schools have closed up shop, and the initial 120 has dwindled to 114. Small colleges like Pine Manor and Becker and Southern Vermont and Newbury are all gone to the universe now.

My current philosophy is to hit as many small private schools as I can as soon as I can. Boston College and UConn will be there in 10-20 years. Will small schools like Rivier or Eastern Nazarene still exist in that time? Who knows? That’s why I’m chasing them now so I’m not regretting missing a school like I did with Pine Manor and Becker.

My white whales

There are two things I’m desperately trying to see on this journey. The first is a buzzer beater at the horn to win a game. I came damn close once before, but the shot didn’t end the game. I’d just love to be able to document one buzzer beater for this series.

The other is a game that goes under 80 minutes in length. While I wasn’t officially timing it like I do now, the game at Fitchburg State went 81 minutes and would have gone under if the losing coach hadn’t called a timeout with less than a minute to go.

It’s so coveted because it takes very specific circumstances to occur. I’ve seen plenty of games go under 90 minutes, but to have those last 10 off is ridiculously difficult.

It needs to be a D2 or D3 game without commercial breaks. The game needs to be close enough to keep the starters in for most of it but spread out just enough so that the end of the game doesn’t become a calvalcade of timeouts and fouls. The refs need to keep the whistles to a minimum and free throws need to almost be non-existent.

It’s such a perfect storm of circumstances to occur that I’ve become enamored by the concept of it. One day. Hopefully.

And with that, here’s your moment with Bella.

The Good Eats

Worcester is a great food town. And in the three future stops in town I’ll be exploring it all from a nationally-ranked diner, to one of the best hot dogs in New England. But today, it was chain eating.

D’Angelo/Papa Gino’s (two parts of one larger company) is a New England-specific chain offering pizza and sandwiches. It’s one of my favorite places to get a sandwich, and the pizza is solid too.

I love fast food too much and always enjoy trying chains around the country when I travel. Zaxby’s and Raising Cane’s are my favorites, although the later does exist in Boston, but ask someone for a New England fast food chain and the answer you’ll almost always get is Dunkin Donuts.

I don’t drink coffee and I like good donuts and muffins so I don’t patronize Dunks all that much. However, D’Angelo makes damn good sandwiches that are vastly superior to Subway or a place like Firehouse.

Considering it was a combo restaurant I got a little of each. It was a slice of cheese and a Korean barbecue steak sandwich.

It’s a good slice. Of all the chain pizza places this is the one I would always take, hands down. Unlike the other pizza papa, it tastes like good pizza and not a cardboard box.

As a sports writer, when you’re a high-level game (D1 college, pros, lower division NCAA tournaments) there’s always some sort of meal for the media and the arena staff. Some are catered. Some are just sandwiches from a local shop. All are passable to excellent. The only time I’ve ever forgone the free meal was when it was Papa John’s pizza. Had it once, never again. Would rather pay than eat it for free.

The sandwich rules. Sirloin, American cheese, cilantro, Sriracha cole slaw, and a spicy Korean BBQ sauce on a toasted sub roll. It’s just so damn good that I can’t recommend it enough. With the chips and drink it is, in my opinion, a perfect meal.

The Campus

Assumption University (Assumption College until 2020) is one of four colleges inside Worcester limits and the lone school with Division II sports.

Founded in 1904 by the Augustinians of the Assumption, the college was located in North Worcester and educated mainly local men of French-Canadian descent.

The famous Worcester tornado of 1953 ripped through and destroyed a good chunk of the campus, and the college moved to its current location on the west side of town in 1956. The old campus is now home to Quinsigamond Community College.

With an undergraduate enrollment just under 2,000, it’s a small and cozy campus. Tsotsis Family Academic Center

Tsotsis Family Academic Center

Emmanuel D’Alzon Library
Richard J. and Sophia Catrambone Health Sciences Building
Chapel of The Holy Spirit

Two types of campuses always strike me as quintessential New England: The small, ivory towers liberal arts school and the small Catholic college. Assumption definitely falls into the latter with a mix of mid-50s brick architecture and newer, glassy modern buildings.

I liked it and definitely want to be back. The football field is named after famous alum, and noted Southerner, Brian Kelly. The school has a lovely charm tucked away in a residential section of the city. Yes, Worcester has 200,000 people but Assumption is anything but a “city” school.

The Game

Separated by a campus road, the Plourde Recreation Center and Laska Gymnasium are the beating heart of Greyhounds athletics and wellness. The Plourde is home to the swim team and houses fitness rooms, boxing and fitness classes, and is the place for the student body to workout.

Laska Gym, named for longtime basketball coach Andrew Laska, is the beating heart of the athletic program. Home to offices, locker rooms, and the gymnasium, Greyhound sports are powered by Laska.

Laska Gymnasium

And they have a helluva logo.

The gym itself is unique in that it’s one of the few lower-division facilities in the region with seating on all four sides. Everything is bright and the school colors of blue & white.

A quirk of the gym are placards adorning the walls on either side with the names of fellow Northeast-10 conference members. However, they need an update. As you can see below, UMass-Lowell is still on the wall despite having transitioned up to Division 1 almost a decage ago.

Merrimack, which went D1 in 2019, was on a placard on the opposite side of the gym paired with LeMoyne.

The game itself featured a cross-division matchup with the Hounds hosting the SCSU Owls. Southern Connecticut came ready to play with Jessica Fressle, who ranked in the top-60 nationally in both points and rebounds per game.

And SCSU came ready to go.

Early on, the Greyhounds opened up a seven-point lead thanks to strong shooting and good ball movement. But thanks to seven points from Fressle, the Owls were able to close the gap to one point by the end of the first quarter.

This Katie Williamson bucket early in the second quarter cut it to 18-16 Assumption.

But then, like greyhounds tend to do, Assumption raced away. Assumption scored 11 points in the next 1:48 to open a 13-point lead. Lauren Hammersley had a pair of triples. Meghan Cramb had a three. And just like that, the rout was on.

The lead stayed in the teens all the way to halftime. Assumption kept finding ways to score, and the Owls couldn’t figure out the best way to adjust to the Greyhounds. Hammersley had 11 of her 14 points for Assumption in the second quarter.

Any chance of a comeback after halftime was extinguished almost immediately. Assumption scored the first 10 points out of the break to take a 50-25 lead.

And that was it. The rest of the game was maintenance from Assumption. The Owls never cut the deficit to less than 20, and Assumption led by as many as 30 points in the fourth quarter.

Even with an excellent 16-point, 14-rebound performance from Fressle, Southern Connecticut could do nothing except do themselves in. The Owls turned the ball over 23 times and shot just 32.1 percent from the field.

Assumption had 17 assists, SCSU had 6. Assumption had 32 points off the bench, SCSU had one. Assumption had 20 offensive rebounds, SCSU had 13.

It was all Greyhounds all day as they rolled in a rout.

Assumption 76, Southern Connecticut State 48. Final.
Time of game: 1:36:16
Player of the game: Marina Callahan (Assumption) – 14 pts, 10 rbd, 5 ast, 2 blk

I certainly enjoyed the short drive to this one, and Division II basketball is the four-leaf clover of New England. With so few programs it’s always a treat to see and experience. The Greyhound women have a long history of success.

Earlier this season Kerry Phayre, now in her 26th season, notched her 400th win as coach of Assumption. She’s made multiple NCAA tournaments and has kept Assumption in the thick of the Northeast-10 hunt for years.

I love supporting schools like this. I love getting out to the D2 and D3 campuses and shining a light on them. Duke and Ohio State and UCLA will get plenty of publicity, but your local small school won’t. Go support them. You’ll be glad you did.

Thanks for reading. Here’s one for the road, and it’s one I listen to every time I’m traveling for The Hoops Project.