Dave’s Top 25 Ballot (’16-’17): Week 10

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Well, let me start by apologizing for those who like to read these blogs for not getting you one the last few weeks. I had other obligations or items on my plate the last few weeks that didn’t allow me the time to post. I have also been under the weather dealing with a cold and exhaustion (notice, Hoopsville was canceled Sunday) which hasn’t helped.

Many of you might be curious how I voted, so let’s start there:

Week 8 Week 9
1 Babson Babson
2 Whitman Whitman
3 Rochester Ramapo
4 Chris. Newport Rochester
5 Denison Chris. Newport
6 Ramapo UW-River Falls
7 Whitworth Denison
8 UW-River Falls Washington Univ.
9 Tufts Tufts
10 New Jersey City New Jersey City
11 Salisbury Amherst
12 Amherst Whitworth
13 Washington Univ. Hope
14 Hope Salisbury
15 Marietta Marietta
16 St. Norbert St. Norbert
17 Hardin-Simmons Guilford
18 Guilford Middlebury
19 UW-Eau Claire North Park
20 Augustana Hardin-Simmons
21 Middlebury Ripon
22 Wesleyan Wesleyan
23 North Park Oswego State
24 Benedictine Benedictine
25 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Neumann
Dropped Out Endicott (#14), Neumann (#25) UW-Eau Claire (#19), Augustana (#20), Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (#25)

As you can see, movement in a few different places. I toyed with some teams in and out despite maybe not losing. I also made some serious shifts to those who seem to be struggling especially in conference play.

While things have been a little less volatile in the Top 25 – if not the entire division – it doesn’t make things easier. I think there is a significant cap in the area of 7-15. I am not comfortable with a number of teams where I have them ranked. Many are too high. However, I have to put someone in those slots. I have to fill in the holes. So teams are going to rise further up than I want them, but I don’t have anyone better to put in those slots.

This week as was the same. Teams in spots I am not convinced are deserving of that ranking, but I can explain that with those individual teams. So without further delay, here is my ballot for this week’s D3hoops.com Top 25:

1 – Babson (Unchanged)
I’ve got nothing to add here. I think they are the best in the country being led by arguably the best player in the country. Haven’t changed my mind all season.

2 – Whitman (Unchanged)
I’ll be honest, I am nervous now. The Blue nearly lost to Linfield. I had said on Hoopsville recently that I thought the past weekend could easily be overlooked by Whitman after beating Whitworth for the second weekend. However, I thought they would have struggled with Pacific though their struggles with Linfield maybe makes more sense. The Blues can’t overlook even the weakest of opponents. Teams this high in the rankings don’t do that.

3 – Rochester (Up 1)
I didn’t like the Yellowjackets prior weekend in the UAA and was nervous with the immediate turn around against the same opponents it would not end well. Rochester actually put their foot down. I’ve been worried they might fade like they did last season, but maybe that isn’t going to happen. That said, EPIC showdown with Washington University this weekend that could determine the conference automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, but Rochester cannot overlook Chicago this weekend as well.

Despite CNU’s success, Dave is wondering what’s been going on with Marcus Carter. Courtesy: CNU Athletics

4 – Christopher Newport (Up 1)
The Captains look strong, but I would feel a lot more confident if their All-American Marcus Carter was having an All-American type season. My concern is he hasn’t looked nearly as strong this year and that could turn into a liability moving forward especially if the Captains hope to get back to Salem.

5 – Ramapo (Down 2)
Maybe I got a little too overzealous moving the Roadrunners to No. 3 overall last week. I liked what I was seeing. They were controlling their opponents in a usually tough NJAC. And while the NJAC hasn’t been as strong this year, I didn’t expect Ramapo to struggle against TCNJ this past week. Oops. Ramapo is a very good team, but they can’t allow dings like they experienced this past week. I was willing to move them further down the poll, but they ran into an area where a lot of losses had taken place and moving them behind teams below them didn’t work – they aren’t worse than those teams.

6 – UW-River Falls (Unchanged)
Despite the fact the Falcons took their first WIAC loss of the season to Oshkosh, I didn’t move them. The main reason is I didn’t have any where further down to put them. The second reason is I would have been shocked to see any team go undefeated in the WIAC. I do think the loss to Oshkosh is a little concerning considering how UWRF has been handling the rest of their conference schedule. However, Oshkosh is a good team and certainly capable of getting that win. The biggest surprise was it was on the Falcons’ home court.

Dave isn’t that sold on WashU, but this weekend’s clash with Rochester will help him answer questions for both teams. Courtesy: WashU Athletics

7 – Washington Univ. (Up 1)
Now we enter the area I am not comfortable with in terms of where teams are ranked. I know a lot of people are impressed with WashU… I am not blown away with them. I feel they are a 10-15 ranked team who is certainly having a good season. My concerns were made clear in their game at Case Western Reserve when the Bears basically blew a 16-point lead with a CRWU team that just wasn’t close to 100%. The odd part is WashU had a number of missing players the second time around with CRWU and the game was over early (correction, I have this confused with the Case missing players against Chicago; I apologize). Big match-up coming against Rochester with Emory lurking as well. I will be watching this weekend’s games closely.

8 – Amherst (Up 2)
No surprise the Lord Jeffs got past Tufts this weekend. And Amherst has done nothing but win since they lost to Wesleyan and Trinity a few weekends prior, but this is another team that right now I feel more comfortable between 10-15. The conference has exposed some flaws and I am just not as sold on the purple As as I used to be – heck, I wasn’t even that sold when they were in the 2-slot on my ballot. Maybe chalk all of this up to how crazy parity has become that there aren’t any bad losses anymore.

9 – Whitworth (Up 3)
Their loss to Whitman basically sealed the fact to me that the Pirates are the same dominating force we have grown accustom to, so their ranking in the Top 10 is an uneasy one. I like them closer to 15, but had to move them up to 9. They had a far more solid weekend than Whitman, but maybe realizing they can’t control the conference has taken some of the pressure off. This just isn’t as strong a squad as I am used to, so a Top 10 ranking seems strange to me.

Hope cracks into the D3hoops.com Top 25 despite the fact Dave has them tenth on his ballot.

10 – Hope (Up 3)
I may be higher on the Dutchmen than others. There is something about this squad I like. I can’t put an exact finger on it, but the fact they are staying above the fray in the rest of the MIAA may have something to do with it. Who knows. Again, maybe not a Top 10 squad, but I like what I see.

11 – Marietta (Up 3)
The Pioneers seem to be getting their swagger back, but I am not convinced they have solved the problems that plagued them in the middle of the season. The recent win over John Carroll gave me hope they found some answers, but I still think they can be exposed by team who has quality players inside. I don’t love Marietta this high right now until I see how they finish the season, but here is where I have to put them.

12 – St. Norbert (Up 4)
The Green Knights did a nice job to avenge their lone conference loss in … years. I think they are a quality team, but not sure they aren’t more like 15th or 16th in the country. That said, they are proving to be a tough out and once again control how the MWC will be determined this season.

Middlebury could turn out to be the most dangerous team in the NESCAC.

13 – Middlebury (Up 5)
The Panthers have quietly been assassins. They have been rolling over teams that leading up to the game looked like they might be formidable. Just look at the recent game against Hamliton! I wasn’t really buying in to Middlebury earlier this season, but they actually might be the most dangerous team in the NESCAC. Forget Tufts and Amherst or even Trinity, Middlebury could control this conference before things are settled.

14 – Salisbury (Unchanged)
I wasn’t as aggressive with the Seagulls because I think they are playing with fire. This is a team that sometimes plays too close to their opponent’s level than they should. York (Pa.) beat them earlier this season and Salisbury barely got past them the second time on the Seagulls home floor. I just don’t think they know how to put teams away and that will mean teams hanging around and maybe knocking Salisbury off one or two more times this season (not counting a third game with CNU). I would feel far more comfortable if Salisbury actually blew the doors off more of their opponents like they are capable of doing.

15 – Guilford (Up 2)
The ODAC is not something to write home about this season. Competitive, sure, but not top notch. That said, Guilford is quietly having a pretty impressive season. The loss to Hampdon-Sydney did more than concern me, but the Quakers are back in control of the ODAC which could have a lot of ramifications later. The biggest trick, Guilford cannot rest on their laurels. There is an argument that only one team from the ODAC will make the NCAA tournament this year no matter how things turn out (I don’t agree, but the argument is a good one). Guilford has to not trip up between now and February 26.

16 – New Jersey City (Down 6)
What the Gothic Knights did this past week is exactly what I said they and others in the NJAC can’t afford to do this season. Prior to seeing the SOS numbers last week, I thought NJAC was in good shape to have two teams in the NCAA tournament. But the recent SOS numbers (not from the NCAA, but pretty accurate) tell a different story. With numbers that low, a team like NJCU cannot lose to a team like Rowan. I don’t care how good people say teams in the NJAC are, the top teams have to keep beating the teams behind them or this is once again going to be a one-bid conference especially in a year where the middle and bottom haven’t ended up being as good as expected. The loss to Rowan could ended up being bad for many reasons besides me losing confidence that the Gothic Knights were underappreciated… not to mention a squad with such a good defense gives up 90+ in the loss. Not good. Not good at all.

Brian Sortino and Oswego State are once again proving to be a dangerous second-half team. Courtesy: Oswego State Athletics

17 – Oswego State (Up 5)
Tell me if you have heard this story before? Oswego State has some questionable results early in the season, people forget about them, and they come storming back in the second half of the season. The Lakers now have control of the SUNYAC thanks to their recent win over Brockport. However, I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. This team is full of talent, but there are teams that tend to leave me wanting more and Oswego has been one of those teams… will they do it again?

18 – Denison (Down 11)
Ouch. Losers of three straight and seeing their two-game advantage in the NCAC disappear completely the Big Red now find themselves a game back of Wooster and Ohio Wesleyan with losses to those two in this stretch. Not good. Denison, I feel, has been a very good team who has taken advantage of Ohio Wesleyan’s disastrous start to the season and a below-par-Wooster squad. However, they had gotten to February still playing terrific basketball. This is the worse time possible for a meltdown. I hope Denison is able to figure things out, because they are also dealing with a shockingly low SOS which means these losses could ended up costing them a chance at returning to the NCAA tournament.

19 – Tufts (Down 10)
Normally a single loss to a conference foe, especially a very good one like Amherst, wouldn’t drop a team ten spots. However, Tufts is having to play with their most important player: Tom Palleschi. His presence inside makes the Jumbos a difficult team to play and beat. Without him, the squad has been exposed to the tune of three losses in four games. Will Palleschi return? Not sure. He might be back in two or so weeks… he might be done for the season. Sadly, the season may go down with their player. That is sad to say for a team that played above expectations last season and seemed to be above the NESCAC fray all season.

UW-Whitewater gets on Dave’s ballot for the first time this season. Are the Warhawks really that good this year? Courtesy: UW-Whitewater Athletics

20 – UW-Whitewater (Unranked)
This is the first time I am voting for the Warhawks and I don’t love the vote. Sorry. The out-of-conference schedule was nothing to be proud of and the three-game losing streak to start conference play was what I thought would happen – bringing UWW back to earth. However, they have gotten back to flying and have won seven straight with four of those being on the road. The toughest test will be this week at UW-Stevens Point and at UW-River Falls. After this week I will either be comfortable with Whitewater on my ballot or shaking my head as to why I chose them over someone else. Looking forward to seeing how this turns out.

21 – Swarthmore (Unranked)
As strange as this is going to sound, I was impressed with the Garnet’s overtime win at McDaniel. I saw the game in person and really liked what I saw from Swarthmore. McDaniel has a habit of playing to the level of it’s opponent which in this case meant playing a far better game than they have shown in the past, so I didn’t knock Swarthmore for having to go into overtime against the Green Terror – especially at McDaniel. The Garnet’s inside game is better than I expected, though their bigs may have to play a little quicker for them to be more dangerous in March.

22 – Neumann (Up 3)
I am not blown away with Neumann, but they keep winning especially as the target gets bigger and bigger. I can’t figure out their personnel changes in the second semester, but they keep winning. One-loss overall and playing in the CSAC makes it hard to stand out, but I had been told at the beginning of the season to keep an eye on Neumann and so far watching them has been good enough to get them ranked… even move them up this week. I had actually sold them when they had a couple of close games they shouldn’t have had in conference, but I am also willing to give them the benefit of the doubt at this point.

St. Thomas is back in the conversation and in control of the MIAC race after a less-than-Tommies start to the season.

23 – St. Thomas (Unranked)
Well, the Tommies are back. After a near-disastrous start that had them in the middle of the MIAC pack, St. Thomas has regained control of the conference and seem to be playing on a different level. Who knows what Coach John Tauer has psychologically down with his program, but it has worked! Great turn around that I just couldn’t keep unranked any more. The finish to the season is not going to be easy, but with two wins over both Bethel and St. John’s already in the Tommies’ pocket, UST is in the driver’s seat once again.

24 – Benedictine (Unchanged)
I don’t have much to say here. The Eagles have been stuck in the 24-slot for weeks with me. Their first conference loss didn’t give me much hope, but they also continue to show they may be as good as last year’s team. No, I am not ranking them accordingly because I feel there may be some smoke and mirrors, but in the meantime I keep watching with no reason to move them up … or down.

25 – Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (Unranked)
CMS and Neumann have been in and out of my ballot for a few weeks. They are both 1-loss teams I can’t figure out. CMS first got on the ballot when they easily handled their first above .500 squads of the season. They came off when they barely got passed Caltech. They continue to win and a one-loss team looks better than some of the three, four, five, even six-loss teams. Not sure where CMS is going to go this season should they make the NCAA tournament, but here’s hoping they show how good they seem to be instead of it just being the usual beat-down of West Coast teams.

Dropped Out:

North Park’s Juwan Henry has missed the last few games for the Vikings who have now lost three of their last six.

North Park (Previously #19):
Injuries and losses are revealing the North Park team I thought we were going to see. They have two preseason All-Americans (only two to have that this year), but one appears out with an injury and the rest of the supporting casts doesn’t seem able to produce like they have in the first-half of the season. The Vikings are 3-3 in their last 6 and 6-4 since the New Year. Not that impressive anymore.

Hardin-Simmon (Previously #20):
I have really liked the Cowboys, but two losses in a row (before a win to stop the bleeding) did not impress me. They have some of the best talent in the country, but they may have just set-up the “win-or-go-home” scenario for the conference playoffs. Not sure how HSU gets in the NCAA tournament unless they win out – though, we haven’t seen the first regional rankings to better understand their situation.

Ripon (Previously #21):
Just when I buy in to the Ty Sabin-led squad, they lose two in a row. I wasn’t surprised when St. Norbert beat them, though the 17-point spread was eyebrow-raising, but to then follow that with a loss to Lake Forest was disappointing. The giveth and they taketh away.

Wesleyan (Previously #22):
The Cardinals are a team I have said was worth watching in what is the deepest and craziest NESCAC we have seen in quite some time, but they are in the same boat as others in terms of not losing games they shouldn’t. Williams nipped Wesleyan in the only game the Cardinals had last week! That speaks louder to me – just one game and lose it – than anything else. There was no other game to distract the team – just one – and they lost. Wesleyan is still dangerous, but not as fearful as beforehand.

There you have it. Another week down. Couple more to go and we will be talking about who is in and out of the NCAA tournament. I will hopefully have time get you those ballots as they are filed each week.

Don’t forget to tune into Hoopsville the rest of the season! We will be on air for a special Regional Rankings show on Wednesday afternoon along with our usual Thursday and Sunday night coverage starting at 7PM those nights.

Other ballots:
Week 7
Week 5
Week 4
Week 2
Week 1

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The Amalfi coast

By Chrishawn Orange
Augustana men’s basketball

My day to write and it began with a wake-up call at 7:30 a.m. from assistant coach Jordan Delp. He told me in the most monotone voice I’ve ever heard “wake up”.

We headed down to breakfast, which was pretty good. They had croissants with lemon powder on them and it was the best croissant I’ve ever had. From there we lined up in a single file line and started our morning walk down to our bus, so we could visit one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world – the Amalfi Coast. On the busiest street in Sorrento, because of the people heading to work, our bus driver was making tight turns and not at a low speed.

Traveling on the bus we were able to see some breathtaking views. The kind that look like they belong on a post card. Seeing views we have never seen before and at some points it almost looked fake because of how beautiful they were. With no sun out there was a calm fog on the water and it made the scenery look very majestic.

When I looked out onto Mediterranean Sea I couldn’t tell where the water ended and where the clouds began and it was truly unbelievable. Driving to Amalfi Coast we ran into some major traffic congestion. At one point we almost crashed into another bus and the locals around the area helped us maneuver out and we made it to Amalfi Coast in one piece.

There was bumper-to-bumper traffic and we were barely moving. With all of the houses on the mountain it created a vertical city. This was remarkable because in city of Positano all of the houses are on a cliff. It’s crazy to see how people built a city on a mountain and with the limited technology they had it still is maintained today. We maintained a positive attitude, despite the slow going, because of all of the picturesque views we saw along the way.

When we arrived at the Amalfi Coast, we split up into groups. I enjoyed my day at Amalfi Coast with fellow sophomores Nolan Ebel (Regis Jesuit HS, Englewood, Colo.) and Pierson Wofford (Springfield Lutheran HS, Springfield, Ill.) and Nolan’s parents. We all went out to lunch at an authentic Italian restaurant. There I had an unusual dish that I wasn’t sure, if the combination went together until I ate it. It was ham and cantaloupe and it was incredible.

After lunch I met up with my roommate Dylan Sortillo (Bettendorf HS, Bettendorf, Iowa) and we went down to the coast-line to take the famous picture we always see other people take. The kind when they are in the water and the beautiful building are in the back.

We headed back to Sorrento where we finished our day doing some shopping. This is where Coach Delp made his first purchase of the trip and bought his mom a bottle of olive oil.

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Last day in Spain, remarkable sights and a win!

By Dylan Sortillo
Augustana men’s basketball

Today was an unbelievably eventful day filled with breathtaking sights and good times.

First we started off the day with a phenomenal breakfast provided by the hotel, then embarked on our journey to our first stop, Montserrat. This religious site is one of the most popular of the religious pilgrimage sites in all of Spain. This in itself is cool because of the vast history behind it so we were all extremely excited. Excitement grew from most of the guys as we whirled and winded on a narrow two-lane road in an enormous bus nearly 4000 feet into the sky, providing an amazing view we’ll never forget.

Once we arrived at the Monesserat we split up into our own groups. Some guys, including myself, and even some guys terrified of heights conquered their fears and hiked even further up the side of the mountain to check out the layout. Others checked out a museum that included paintings from world famous artists such as Pablo Pacasso, Salvador Dali, and Claudia Monet. After, our free time we collectively gathered in the Chapel and took in the moment.

Next we hopped on the bus and headed to our next destination, Sitges, the beautiful beach coastal village on the Mediterranean Sea. Many of the premier athletes and famous people of Spain reside there so you can imagine the quality of the village and the beach. We enjoyed our fun in the sun on the beach and the majestic waters and waves of the Mediterranean. Some (Brandon Schattner) spent a little too much time in the sun and got a nice sunburn.

After an authentic Spanish lunch, we headed back to our hotel to prepare for our nighttime game versus a premier Spanish opponent AET Boet Mataro. The program was recently bumped up to level one professional team, the highest league in Spain, so we knew we were going to have our hands full.

We ate a steak dinner at the hotel and celebrated sophomore Nic Uhlir’s 20th birthday, then headed to the stadium. We brought the energy from the start and jumped out to an early 10-point lead thanks to a hot start from senior Jacob Johnston. He even gave the “finger pistols” after a big three so you know he was feeling it.

But, of course they battled back and even took the lead in the fourth quarter with physical play and impressive European-ball movement. Thanks to solid contributions by everyone, including the energy from the bench and our fans we hung tough and gave ourselves an opportunity to win. Down the final stretch sophomores Pierson Wofford and Chrishawn Orange stepped up big and we were able to pull off a huge 74-73 victory. This was an ultimate grind-it-out game and was really big in bringing us together as a team.

Tonight we will go to bed happy and gear up for our flight to Naples, Italy in the morning.

Overall, our time in Spain was wonderful to us and we even came out with two HUGE wins.

Go Vikes!

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Game day in Barcelona and then a visit to Sagrada Familia

By Jacob Johnston,
Augustana men’s basketball

Today was game day and the Augustana men’s basketball team is now 1-0 at the start of our European expedition.

We had an early start to our morning, with a great breakfast at our hotel, and then made our way to the gym for our first contest at 9:15 a.m..

Our opponent, the European Basketball Academy, had five Americans, so it wasn’t that much different than playing back in the United States. However, how the referees called the game was a pretty big adjustment for us. All you have to do is  ask junior Dylan Sortillo and sophomore Pierson Wofford as they got hit with a few travelling calls throughout the game.

The referees are much more strict on players footwork, which resulted in a lot of turnovers for us. Regardless, we played hard and together and came through with the win with the final score being 84-73.

After our game concluded, we headed back to our hotel to clean up, and then we had some free time to explore the area. With this time we went to local restaurants for lunch, and then went to the beach. The guys really enjoyed the beach and Mediterranean Sea is beautiful.

Following a couple of hours of viewing the city, we got back on the bus to downtown Barcelona for some site-seeing.

Our first stop was at Guell Park, located on the side of a mountain in Barcelona. Here we learned about famous architect Antoni Gaudi. Gaudi designed many of the houses of the affluent families in Spain and he lived and designed parts of Guell Park in the ladder years of his life. Gaudi’s focal points in his work were religion, nature, and function, and his work is very unique, so seeing it in the park was very interesting.

Once we finished touring the park, we went downtown to see the Sagrada Família which is an enormous church that Gaudi and other architects worked on. The structure is still being worked on today even though construction began in 1882, and by 2026 it will be completed and will be the tallest structure of Catholic worship in all of Europe. Sagrada Família was so large and unique that words and pictures don’t really do it justice, it was truly breathtaking.

This was our last stop for the day and we went back to the hotel afterward for dinner. That concluded day three of our journey and will continue tomorrow with a day of site-seeing and a game against another professional Spanish team, AE Boet Mataro.

Go Vikes!

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Going shopping but looking for food

By Jacob Johnston,
Augustana men’s basketball

After a long day of traveling on Friday night, the Augustana men’s basketball team finally set foot in Spain. We spent all Friday night flying over the Atlantic Ocean on our way from Chicago to Madrid. Once we landed in Madrid, we quickly got on another plane to take a short flight to Barcelona.

After arriving in Barcelona we wasted no time and found our tour guide Han who took us to Las Ramblas via bus.

Las Ramblas is arguably the most famous shopping location in all of Catalonia (the state in northeast Spain in which Barcelona resides). This shopping location runs from the center of Barcelona all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. Though this is a great place for tourists to shop, the number one thing on all of our minds was getting food in our respective stomachs.

We split up into smaller groups to look for any restaurant that looked appealing to us and got lunch. This was our first time trying authentic Spanish food, so we tried to get dishes we’d never had before. They ranged from squid, to lamb, to seafood paella (a rice based dish with a variety of different types of seafood). Following our lunches, we walked around Las Ramblas more seeing thousands of people and numerous shops.

After Las Ramblas, it was finally time to check into our hotel located in Castelldefels, which is basically a suburb of Barcelona. We didn’t spend much time at the hotel though, as we had a practice scheduled in the city of Cornella.

This practice was in preparation for tomorrow’s game scheduled for 9:15 a.m. against the European Basketball Academy. The academy is comprised of 19-22 year old players from Spain, Eastern Europe, and the United States. The players in this academy are trying to get professional basketball jobs in Spain, so they will surely be tough competition. It will be an early night for us so we can compete at the highest level in the game tomorrow morning and hopefully come out with a win.

Go Vikes!