Heaven is a Playground: FIBA 2014 team preview — Puerto Rico

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Columnist Noah Perkins will be covering the 2014 FIBA World Cup for One-Bid Wonders. Leading up to the Aug. 30 tip-off, he will be previewing all 24 qualified teams.

Back when Jason Biggs and Ja-Rule were popular; when the preferred search engine of the masses was Alta Vista and the Dell Guy was part our collective consciousness; a little Puerto Rican kid was lighting up the local college basketball scene.

Of course, at the time, nobody in Boston actually considered Jose Juan Barea a legitimate NBA talent – shit, nobody in Boston even knew who he was.

Well, I should say nobody who didn’t pay attention to the tiny America East conference knew who he was; AE fans knew him he as “the asshole on Northeastern.”

One of my favorite Boston-centric sports moments happened during the 2003 America East Basketball tournament; I was there with a group of my buddies.

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It played out like this:

Friend: “Barea, you suck!”

Townie sitting behind us: “Hey kid, you wanna’ go ta’ cahlegge?” (*Editor’s note: That’s “go to college” in Boston-townie vernacular).

Friend: “Ummm, yea.”

Townie: “Then be mower creative; Barea doesn’t suck!”
(Editor’s note: that’s “more,” once again in townie vernacular.)

Friend (without missing a beat): “Barea, you’re a genital wart!”

From that day on I’ve always thought of JJB as The Genital Wart.

(Editors note: Barea went off for 38 in the America East quarterfinal, drilling the game-winning 3-pointer with 0.8 seconds left. The next day he melted down in a loss to Boston University, picking up a tech for slapping an opponent after getting called for a charge).

The universe is funny I suppose: Who would have thought 10 years later, said genital wart would be an NBA Champion, riding a seven-year NBA career, and the boyfriend of a former Miss Universe (or the ex-boyfriend of said former Miss Universe and current boyfriend of another former Miss Universe contestant, depending on what Spanish gossip column you read).

Just as Barea continues to ascend to highs previously not thought possible, Puerto Rican national teammate Renaldo Balkman has slummed it up in the basketball gutter. Continue reading “Heaven is a Playground: FIBA 2014 team preview — Puerto Rico”

“Goal is to get to the NCAA tournament,” says Northeastern new coach Chris Markwood

New Northeastern assistant coach Chris Markwood.
New Northeastern assistant coach Chris Markwood.

When Northeastern’s newest assistant coach says a team has what it takes to get to the NCAA tournament, one can trust he knows what he’s talking about.

During his three-year span as an assistant coach at University of Vermont, Chris Markwood helped to lead the Catamounts to 20-plus wins and the post-season every year as well as an NCAA tournament berth in 2011-12. After less than a week as an official member of coach Bill Coen’s staff, Markwood is reassured the Huskies have what it takes to make it to college basketball’s biggest stage.

“Everybody in here, their whole goal is to get to the NCAA tournament,” Markwood said. “You talk to any college coach, head coach or assistant, once your season actually ends and you start preparing for the next season, that’s the goal.

“I’ve been fortunate enough at Vermont to be able to experience that and we’ve had some very successful years up there and I foresee that happening here as well.”

Markwood gives Coen an experienced leader capable of relating to players, specifically guards. Coming off a season in which the Northeastern backcourt was at times passive, the former two-year starter is focused on developing the talent behind dominant forward Scott Eatherton.

“There’s a lot of talent within that perimeter, I’m just trying to hone in on those guys and tighten up their games and make them the best players they can be and if we can do that, we’re in real good shape,” Markwood said.

In fact, it was forward Quincy Ford, who often played at the perimeter before sitting out of most of last season with a back injury, who was one of the biggest factors in Markwood’s decision to come to the CAA.

“Just his skill-set and his size, for me, was intriguing and something I was anxious to see first hand,” Markwood said. “A guy who’s 6’7″-6’8″ who shoots the way he does and handles the ball the way he does, it seems like he’s really put in the time this summer.”

The America East veteran said another factor in the change was the chance to work under Coen, who has been letting him stay at his home while he searches for a new house.

“He’s a very highly respected coach,” Markwood said. “Within this region, I had heard a lot of really good things about him from people I know and I’ve crossed paths with him on the recruiting trail so it kind of started with that.

“He’s built a very strong program here. He won the league a couple years ago. Last year a major injury to a guy like [Quincy Ford] really hurt them but they’ve got all the pieces again and we’re really looking forward to a very strong year again.”
Coen expressed his enthusiasm for Markwood’s recruiting skill in a statement. Continue reading ““Goal is to get to the NCAA tournament,” says Northeastern new coach Chris Markwood”

Report: Vermont assistant Chris Markwood to Northeastern

In a story first reported by Hoopdirt.com, assistant coach Chris Markwood will leave the University of Vermont to join Bill Coen’s staff at Northeastern University. Hoopdirt cited a “great source” and OBW has since confirmed the hiring with multiple sources.

Markwood spent the past three seasons on head coach John Becker’s staff in Vermont, where he built a reputation as a players coach, a strong recruiter with a terrific basketball IQ, extremely hard working and seemingly universally well-liked member of the staff.

In his first season on the staff, Markwood helped Becker lead the Catamounts to the NCAA Tournament, and played a large role in recruiting and developing a core of players that would help the Catamounts return to the conference championship game a year later and win a regular season title the following season.

Prior to his time at Vermont, Markwood spent five seasons on the staff at his alma mater, the University of Maine. While on the Black Bear staff, Markwood worked with perimeter players, and played a large role in developing four America East All-Conference selections and two All-Rookie picks.

Perhaps not coincidentally, almost immediately after Markwood departed following the 2010-2011 season, the Black Bears program went completely off the tracks in a complete train wreck.

Prior to coach, Markwood spent his first two seasons of college basketball playing at Big East member Notre Dame, before transferring back to his home state for his final two years of eligibility. In two years at Maine, Markwood averaged 6.7 points and three assists per game in 45 contests, while providing lock-down defense and a strong locker room presence. As a senior captain, Markwood swished a heavily contested 3-pointer just before the buzzer of the 2005 America East quarterfinals, to lead sixth-seeded Maine a 47-45 win over third-seeded Boston University. It would prove to be the only America East Tournament win of then head coach Ted Woodward’s 10-year tenure.

Earlier this spring Markwood, a Portland native and the 2000 Maine Gatorade Player of the Year, interviewed for the vacated head coaching position at Maine, but did not make the list of finalists. At Northeastern, he will replace Antonio Reynolds-Dean who earlier this spring accepted a position at the College of Charleston.

Scott Eatherton is never satisfied

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.” Continue reading “Scott Eatherton is never satisfied”