Maine’s Titanic finally sinks

Head Coach Ted Woodward's tenure comes to an end.

April 22nd, 2014 by Sam Perkins
Maine head coach Ted Woodward was bought out after 10 years at the helm.

Maine head coach Ted Woodward was bought out after 10 years at the helm.

With less than two minutes remaining, Vermont head coach Mike Lonergan stood silent on the sideline of his cozy home confines of Patrick Gymnasium; his shoulders slumped for split second.

For the previous 38 or so minutes on Jan. 18, 2011, Lonergan’s Catamounts had run their vaunted, methodical – and often unstoppable against America East rivals — flex-offense to no avail and visiting Maine had never trailed. Lonergan ran every gamut and gap in his arsenal – switching up his defenses, going from man, to basic zone, to 1-3-1 and a trapping full court press – and Maine just kept coming.

Powered by Troy Barnies, a 6-foot-7-inch athletic and relentless ball of energy, junior deadeye Gerald McLemore, who could light it up from anywhere, sophomore small forward Murphy Burnatowski, 6-feet-6-inches and 230-pounds of brimming talent and bruising athleticism, and 6-foot-8-inch 270-pound freshman battering ram Alasdair Fraser, combined with a supporting cast of skilled role players like off-guard Terrance Mitchell, shot blocking 6’9” pogo-stick Mike Allison, rugged 6’7” 240 pound senior Sean McNally, junkyard dog Malachi Peay and a pair of creative point guards in Raheem Singleton and Andrew Rodgers, Maine had as deep and talented a roster as anyone.

During the non-conference, the Black Bears knocked off a pair of high-majors in Penn State and UMass, each by double figures, then opened up the America East slate by running out to a 4-1 mark, including a dismantling of Boston University.

And now, they were taking it to the premier program in the conference in Vermont.

Every time Vermont made a run, Maine answered right back, and now, as the clock ticked down towards a minute left, Lonergan looked across half court to the opposing bench and locked eyes with his Black Bears’ counterpart Ted Woodward. Lonergan smiled, shrugged, and nodded in approval.

The message seemed crystal clear: This is your year.

The final buzzer sounded and the Black Bears, led by 14 points apiece from Barnies, McLemore and Singleton, left the court with a dominant 72-58 win over the defending America East Tournament champions.

Four days later, Maine clubbed defending regular season champion Stony Brook 70-59, then walloped bitter rival New Hampshire 64-50 in a game that was never close.

On January 29, after a nine-hour bus ride through a snowstorm – a trip in which anything that could go wrong seemed to go wrong — the Black Bears battled tired legs and fell behind Binghamton by 20-points in the second half, only to come roaring back for a 77-74 road win, and a place all alone atop the America East standings at 8-1 in league play

This was their year.

And then it wasn’t

On April 12, 1912, the state of the art RMS Titanic, the largest ship in the world at the time, set out Southampton, England, on its inaugural north Atlantic voyage. After making port in Cherbourg, France, the massive luxury liner hit the open ocean, headed for New York.

She never made it.

On the night of April 14, the Titanic was heading through the north Atlantic Ocean when it received warnings of dangerous ice flows and ice begs lying ahead from no fewer than six ships. Nevertheless, the crew continued full speed ahead. At 11:40 p.m., the Titanic struck an iceberg, damaging plates, popping rivets, and opening gashes along its starboard side and the ship began to rapidly sink.

One-hundred and two years later to the day of the Titanic striking that fateful iceberg, Maine head coach Ted Woodward was bought out of the remaining two years of his contract.

The Titanic only lasted four days on water and took just two hours and forty minutes to sink. Woodward’s time at the helm of the Black Bears ship lasted 10 years. (more…)

Scott Eatherton is never satisfied

Despite exploding onto the scene as a double-double machine in his first season of eligibility, the Husky's 6'8

April 18th, 2014 by Zolan Kanno-Youngs
In his first season at Northeastern, center Scott Eatherton finished fifth in the nation in double-doubles. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins

In his first season at Northeastern, center Scott Eatherton finished fifth in the nation in double-doubles. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins

Scott Eatherton is in a familiar place with a familiar sense of discontent.

The place is Cabot Gymnasium, the only court the Hershey-native shot a basketball on during the 2012-13 season as a result of transfer legislation. Just like that year, the only sounds that can be heard in the hollow gym are the center working out with his heavy ball and directions from an assistant coach.

And while Eatherton’s first real season with the Huskies resulted in him leading the team in scoring, field goals-made, rebounds, leading the CAA in blocked shots and even landed him a spot on the National All-Defensive team, he once again enters Cabot knowing that he and the team have something to prove.

“Right after the season we didn’t really have a good understanding about where we were going and I feel like now the team does,” Eatherton said. “We know what we want to do next year so I feel like we’ve had three weeks of good workouts and good lifts and we’re moving in the right direction…I had a lot of time to watch March Madness and just think about that and it really just made me miss playing and it was kind of like motivation to get ready for next year.”

The team’s mediocre record (11-21, 7-9) and early semi-final exit to the eventual CAA champion Delaware, did not reflect the career numbers Eatherton put up on a consistent basis. His 15.9 ppg, 10.2 rpg and 1.8 bpg (all career highs) earned him CAA defensive player of the year, a spot on the CAA All-tournament team and a finalist spot for National Defensive Player of the Year (eventually won by Louisiana Lafayette’s Elfrid Payton).

Eatherton, who finished fifth in the nation in double-doubles, even caught the attention of a NU basketball hall of famer Dan Callahan (class of ’95), who holds the NU record for most rebounds in a season (364), ranks second all-time in school history with 1,007, and is regarded as the greatest rebounder in Northeastern history.

“[Some of my friends around the program] were like ‘they finally found another you: a big, white rebounder,’” Callahan laughed. “But honestly, I think he (Eatherton) is a lot more advanced and can do a lot more with the ball than me on offense: He’s got a great touch, finishes with both hands, can shoot the ball all the way out to the 3-point line. I just dunked the ball and knocked people over.” (more…)

Tell us how you really feel: Sam Perkins sounds off on Maine Basketball

April 14th, 2014 by Sam Perkins

Sam Perkins has long been a recurring guest and America East men’s basketball insider on the Downtown with Rich Kimball show, hosted on ESPN 92.9 FM The Ticket in Maine. Following the latest exodus in Orono — the departures of four players; the team’s leading scorer, dynamic playmaker and rising-senior Xavier Pollard; the top athlete and third-leading scorer in rising junior Dimitry Akanda-Coronel; top-assist man and 6’5″ sophomore point guard Shaun Lawton; and Maine native and recruited walk-on Mitch Worcester — Perkins returned to the Maine airwaves during the 5 p.m. rush hour on Friday, April 11, to discuss the continued downward trajectory of Black Bears men’s basketball.

Perkins pulled no punches in his blunt assessment: The program has become the worst in the league and an embarrassment, it falls squarely on the shoulders of head coach Ted Woodward and it is time (and has been time for several years now) for a change at the top of the program.

Give it a listen:

Among Perkins’ talking points:

-The notion that Maine simply can not recruit and does not have the talent to compete in the America East is complete bunk: in recent years, Maine has fielded America East All-Conference players Troy Barnies (1st Team), Gerald McLemore (All-League honors in all four years at Maine); Alasdair Fraser (All-Conference honors all three years at the program); Justin Edwards (All-Conference honors both years in Maine); Murphy Burnatowski (an All-Rookie selection at Maine and two time Patriot League All-Conference Second Team selection after transferring to Colgate); Pollard (America East Third Team All-Conference selection this past year); along with the high flying Akanda-Coronel and very talented players like Mike Allison and a host of international players. (more…)

Austin’s Odyssey: Basketball, Bedford, and the bond between father and son

American's Austin Carroll

April 10th, 2014 by Sam Perkins
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Austin Carroll won a Patriot League championship just 15 miles from where he grew up. His journey there was anything but a straight line or an easy road. OBW Photo / Andrew Hubbard

Standing behind the visitors’ bench in the cavernous Agganis Arena, Austin Carroll and found his father, John. The pair wrapped their arms around each other, locking in an embrace.

For several seconds – seemingly an eternity – they said nothing.

Then, they began to weep. A short, slow stream of silent sobs at first, which quickly grew louder and longer — their embrace growing tighter as their shoulders rose and fell like waves crashing against the breakers during a storm.

Finally, the dam burst wide open behind a torrential tidal wave of tears.

Around them, Carroll’s American University teammates and their blue-clad supports – family and friends – danced a wild dance of unbridled joy.

The final buzzer had sounded; echoing over the plush, largely empty chairbacks of the massive arena. Triple-zeros flashed on the jumbotron. The final score of the Patriot League Championship Game, American 55 Boston University 36, was now forever etched in the history books. Carroll and his teammates were headed to the NCAA Tournament.

Yet as his teammates moved their celebration to center court, surrounded by coeds and classmates, Carroll and his father continued their bear hug.

“We’ve just been through a lot, I attribute everything in my basketball career mostly to him and it was a special moment,” Carroll said later.

Been through a lot – that’s putting it mildly.

Carroll had once been a premier prep school prospects, ranked nationally by ESPN above the likes of current Boston Celtic Phil Pressey. He’d signed to play in the old Big East – the best conference and biggest stage in all of college hoops — as a blue-chipper.

Now he was an end of the rotation reserve, toiling in obscurity for an unknown mid-major. Along the way, he’d blown out his knee twice and become the whipping boy of one of the most tyrannical coaches in college basketball.

He’d never been happier than he was sharing that embrace with his father.

“The NCAA Tournament is your number one goal growing up as a kid and to have the opportunity to go is unbelievable,” he exclaimed. “Icing on the cake – it’s all worth it. Absolutely, it was all worth it,” Carroll emphasized. (more…)

State of Terrier nation: BU in tough spot following loss of key players

April 3rd, 2014 by Sam Perkins
BU sophomore Maurice Watson Jr. is turning his back on the BU program. OBW Photo / Andrew Hubbard

BU sophomore Maurice Watson Jr. is turning his back on the BU program. OBW Photo / Andrew Hubbard

By Chris Dela Rosa

For a team that has been heading in the right direction since the summer of 2012, the breaking news that three Boston University men’s basketball veterans would be transferring before the 2014-15 has left a dark cloud hanging over the long stretch of campus that runs down Commonwealth Avenue.

After a barrage of tweets, it was confirmed that sophomore guard Maurice Watson Jr., the team’s best player and the epicenter of the Terriers’ offense, would be departing to chase the dream to play basketball at the highest level of college hoops (whether it is his dream or his father’s remains the subject of debate).

Also leaving the team is junior forward Malik Thomas, and junior James Kennedy.

“Those guys chose to leave and we support them. I think the guys on the team support them and we wish them the best,” said Jones on Wednesday night.

Looking ahead, in the wake of Watson’s departure, coupled with the graduation of seniors D.J. Irving, Dom Morris and Travis Robinson, gaping hole is left in the BU basketball program as a whole.

For the last two seasons, the focal point for the basketball team has been Watson, with the entire BU offense predicated on the dynamic point guard’s ability to get into the lane off the dribble, and either finish acrobatically around the rim, or dish the rock to an open teammate. No one finished off more of Watson’s dishes than Irving, a dynamic point guard and penetrator in his own right, and Morris, a bruising bull around the rim. Robinson’s ability to stretch the floor by knocking down open threes, and his defensive presence on the wing, were also key factors for the Terriers.

With the early departures of Watson and Thomas, combined with the graduation of Irving, Morris and Robinson, the Terriers lose more than 67 percent of their scoring, 84 percent of their assists and 58 percent of their rebounds. (more…)

Maurice Watson Jr., Malik Thomas and James Kennedy leave BU

April 2nd, 2014 by Sam Perkins
Maurice Watson Jr. OBW File Photo / Sam Perkins

Maurice Watson Jr. OBW File Photo / Sam Perkins

On Wednesday, March 12, the top-seeded Boston University Terriers hosted American University at the sparkling and spacious Agganis Arena in the Patriot League Championship Game.

The stage was set for BU to punch its ticket back to The Big Dance and the bright spotlight of the NCAA Tournament. But the Terriers didn’t show up, getting embarrassed 55-36 on their home court.

A month and a half later, the Terriers suffered a far, far bigger loss.

On Wednesday, April 2, it was announced that Maurice Watson Jr., arguably the most talented – and certainly most dynamic – player in the Patriot League and the Terriers’ heart, soul, and engine powering its offense, was leaving the program to transfer to a higher level, higher-profile program.

As a sophomore, Watson Jr. led the Patriot League and ranked fourth in the nation in assists at 7.1 per game. Watson’s 17 assists in a Patriot League semi final win over Army set BU and Patriot League post season records. The sub 5’9” guard also leading the Terriers in scoring (13.3 ppg), steals (2.1 spg) and minutes (31.2 mpg), while ranking fourth in field goal percentage (49.5 percent) and rebounds (3.6 rpg).

In short, Watson was not simply the Terriers’ best player, but one of the most talented players to set foot in Case Gym and the Agganis Arena in a very, very long time.

And now he is gone.

The news first broke on Twitter Wednesday morning. Before Watson Jr., had publicly commented, his father, Maurice Watson Sr., had already given an interview with City of Basketball Love (for the complete article, read here).

“We appreciate our time at BU,” Watson, Sr., told CoBL. “He had a wonderful career playing in the Patriot League, playing in the America East. But we feel now that he needs to take his basketball ability and play on a bigger stage.”

While his father consistently used the word “we” when quoted in the article, it is worth noting that, according to multiple sources among the Philadelphia basketball scene, Watson Sr., is the man pulling the strings – and making all the decisions — in regards to his son’s career. (more…)

OBW announces the addition of two writers to staff, expansion of conference coverage for 2014-2015

April 1st, 2014 by Sam Perkins

One-Bid Wonders is thrilled to announce the addition of Christopher Dela Rosa and the return of Zolan V. Kanno-Youngs in an expanded capacity for the 2014-2015 college basketball season. Both Dela Rosa and Kanno-Youngs will write for the website in a full-time capacity, allowing OBW to greatly expand its umbrella of mid-major coverage.

A rising junior at Boston University, Dela Rosa will serve as OBW’s Patriot League featured writer, spearheading One-Bid Wonders’ first season of full coverage of the PL, providing game stories, features, perspectives pieces and weekly Power Rankings.

During his first two years in college, Dela Rosa worked for the Daily Free Press, the highly acclaimed BU student newspaper, serving as the BU’s men’s basketball beat writer, covering the day-in, day-out grind of the college hoops season. Dela Rosa got his start in sports writing as a sophomore in high school with Bleacher Report in 2010, writing about anything from the New York Jets, New York Yankees, and Brooklyn Nets (formerly the New Jersey Nets), and spent more than a year as a New York Jets featured columnist.

Fresh off his “middler” year, Kanno-Youngs is heading into his junior (fourth) year at Northeastern University and is fresh off a semester abroad in South Africa, where he wrote for the South Africa Cape Times. Prior to his semester overseas, Kanno-Youngs served as a contributor to One-Bid Wonders, covering Northeastern University men’s basketball in a smaller capacity. For the 2014-2015 season, Kanno-Youngs will move to a full-time role as OBW’s Colonial Athletic Association featured writer, allowing the website to expand to cover CAA hoops.

As the site’s CAA writer, Kanno-Youngs will provide game coverage, write features and columns, and contribute to the inaugural OBW CAA Power Rankings. Kanno-Youngs has previously served as a sports correspondent for The Boston Globe, and covered Northeastern men’s basketball in both print, for the Huntington News, and on the radio for wrbbsports.

Dela Rosa and Kanno-Youngs join a One-Bid Wonders staff that includes OBW Editor in Chief Sam Perkins, co-Creator and lead statistician Matt Whitrock, Heaven is a Playground Columnist Noah Perkins, Ivy League featured writer Martin Kessler and America East featured writer Doric Sam, along with contributor Josiah Bonsey.

With Dela Rosa and Kanno-Youngs joining Kessler and Sam, OBW will have a feature writer covering each of the America East, Ivy League, Patriot League and Colonial Athletic Association for the 2014-2015 seasons, providing in-depth coverage across all four league’s for the entire season.

The addition of two extremely talented young writers will not only allow OBW to expand its swath of coverage, but will also allow Sam Perkins to return to his bread-and-butter of human interest feature writing across all four conferences, and allow Whitrock to dive back into his statistical analysis.

Heaven is a Playground: Escape From New York

Noah Perkins channels his inner Snake Plissken

March 29th, 2014 by Noah Perkins

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Exhale and release: I made it.

Seven months is not a long time, but in this city — the city that intimidated me to the point of not wanting to leave my house most days — time might have well have been some abstract concept: The type of philosophy taught to obnoxious 21-year-olds deluded into thinking they know the difference between book smarts and street smarts — seniors in college who think their fancy degrees mean something. I graduated Magna Cum Laude, but in this city, high honors means “go fuck yourself,” and if you’re one of those rich kids whose (white) privilege allows you to actually enjoy everything New York offers, then fuck you – yeah, I’m talking to you Lena Dunham.

Without a trust fund, living here is hell, but it’s the type of misery that molds you into a semi-worthwhile person.

What tangible skills do I offer society? I graduated college in 2012, which means I know how to do a lot of things on the internet; my attention span is a flat 20 minutes; I think I am super special; I want constant praise and validation despite the fact I have accomplished next to nothing in my life.

I’m not even putting myself down; I’m just giving an honest assessment of nearly everyone born between 1986 and 1994.

Thanks to this squalid hellhole, I can put real things on a resume, people contact me on Linkedin and I get called back for interviews. When I turned down grad school to move here someone said “New York is an education onto itself,” and they were right: I feel like I have learned more in the past seven months than I did in five years of college.

Where did you want to go after graduation: New York or L.A.?

The people who went the Angeleno path by in large disgust me: I get it, you watched a lot of Entourage and have transformed yourself into a total caricature.

New York City, though, with it’s brutal weather, inordinate cost of living and Christina Aguilera-stank quality of life builds character.You have to actually interact with reality here – in Los Angeles it’s urban sprawl and gated communities. In L.A.,The rich never leave their cars and are afforded the luxury of ignoring those in the caste below them. In New York City, where 8 million people live on top of one another, the impossibility of owning a car forces Wall Street to overlap with Brownsville.

What’s life in the Big Apple like? Everywhere you go you get the feeling the city is hanging you upside down by your ankles and shaking out every nickel. My one bedroom with an outdoor porch, gym and swimming pool in downtown San Diego cost the same amount as my crap box of a studio in Brooklyn. (more…)

Clock strikes midnight on Crimson’s cinderella season

March 23rd, 2014 by Martin Kessler
Harvard's Siyani Chambers, right, is comforted by teammate Wesley Saunders late in the second half against Michigan State during the third round of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament in Spokane, Wash., Saturday, March 22, 2014. Michigan State won 80-73. ELAINE THOMPSON — AP Photo

Harvard’s Siyani Chambers, right, is comforted by teammate Wesley Saunders late in the second half against Michigan State during the third round of the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament in Spokane, Wash., Saturday, March 22, 2014. Michigan State won 80-73. ELAINE THOMPSON — AP Photo

The list of “what ifs” stretches about as far as Lavietes to Spokane.

What if Wesley Saunders had finished that layup with 50 seconds left to cut it to 73-71?

What if Michigan State had missed one more three-pointer in the second half?
What if Harvard had taken care of the ball in the first?

But, as hard as it may be, let’s stop there, take a step back, and remember how ridiculous it is that these questions are even worth considering.

Harvard’s opponent in the third round of the NCAA tournament was not a New Mexico team sans a scouting report or a Cincinnati team without an offense. No, this was Michigan State, a top 10-team with a Hall of Fame coach. (more…)

Don’t call it an upset: Harvard dunks Cincinnati 61-57

March 20th, 2014 by Martin Kessler
Harvard's Siyani Chambers, right, leaps into the arms of teammate Brandyn Curry after the team beat Cincinnati in the second round of the NCAA college basketball tournament in Spokane, Wash., Thursday, March 20, 2014. Harvard won 61-57. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Harvard’s Siyani Chambers, right, leaps into the arms of teammate Brandyn Curry after the team beat Cincinnati in the second round of the NCAA college basketball tournament in Spokane, Wash., Thursday, March 20, 2014. Harvard won 61-57. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

This one felt different.

Cincinnati had fair warning—heck, from the moment the matchup was set the prognosticators were calling it. This was the 5-12 upset.

Even the president knew.

This time, there would be no “sneaking up.” This time, there would be someone within a stone’s throw of Laurent Rivard.

This time, there would be two teams, playing to decide who was better. And after 40 minutes it was clear: this was no upset—twelve-seeded Harvard was the better team, besting Cincinnati 61-57.

‘‘I’ve heard this before where there really aren’t upsets anymore,’’ said Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker. ‘‘There may be some surprises, but I just think when you’re looking at seeds and if you’re playing this time of year, you’re probably a pretty good basketball team.’’

Harvard led by seven at halftime and then it led the entire second half. Cincinnati had its chances to swing the momentum, but in the end, the Bearcats couldn’t come up with the buckets they needed.

‘‘In my mind, today’s game was anything but an upset,’’ said Bearcats’ head coach Mick Cronin said. ‘‘They’ve got a great team. Tough draw for us. In my opinion, they’re one of the best teams we played all year.’’ (more…)