Sunday, February 15, 2009

Finishing What We Started

Today's trip to the ARC at Valparaiso is stop 4 of 4 in this little jaunt around the Horizon League. With what's happened in the league this week...specifically in northeast Ohio...we've got plenty to talk about leading up to today's Valpo vs. UIC match-up, which tips at 4:00pm ET / 3:00pm CT.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Home Sweet Home...If Only For One Night

Making our way back to HQ in Indianapolis...but this journey isn't over yet!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

LIVE From Downtown Cleveland!

We're back for more. You ready?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

LIVE From Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood (...or Park)

Ahhh...Chicago. Corrupt politics, deep dish pizza, and Ramblers basketball!

Horizon League Road Trip

Get your motor runnin'... Head out on the highway. 

THE Damon Lewis and myself will be leaving in a few hours for Chicago. We are heading to the Wright State-Loyola game. As always we are looking for you to give us things to talk about and keep us going. The live blog will start early in the afternoon so get in there and start telling us what you'd like to hear us discuss or questions you'd like to hear answered. We saw all of you Wright State fans show up on Saturday, now we'd like to see you guys show up for the blog! Look for the live blog to be posted in the next couple of hours. We look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Look Back...And a Look Ahead


A full slate of games on Saturday produced some exciting results. I'll start with the last game first as Green Bay defended its home court in front of 7,980 Phoenix fans at the Resch Center. First off, a big salute to the Green Bay faithful getting out on a Saturday night in full force. The 72-68 win looked all too familiar to some other Horizon League teams as Green Bay used its veteran grit and a good amount of free throws to win at home. Milwaukee didn't exactly execute to perfection in the last 35 seconds as coach Jeter had to call a timeout with the clock winding down. Jeter drew up a pick and roll with backside action, trying to get Tone Boyle a good look off a screen at the top of the key. Boyle got some contact but didn't get the whistle and the Phoenix 'escaped' and got some breathing room in second place, now two games up on Milwaukee.
Coach Jeter started James "Big Lumber " Eayrs for the first time all season and he didn't disappoint as he went for 22 and 9 but fouled out in the waning moments trying to grab a rebound. Anthony Hill only getting 7 minutes is a head-scratcher as well because Green Bay can be bodied down low.

Road trip note: We (Damon and I) will get another good look at Milwaukee as they face Cleveland State on the road this Thursday. As always, we'll be live blogging so spread the word. Big Lumber vs. J'Nathan Bullock is a heavyweight bout I'd pay to see.

Cleveland State has now won four in a row and they're on a crash course with Milwaukee for the third-place spot in the HL tournament. That is important because it would mean you would avoid the home team, and number 1 seed, in the tournament until the championship game. The Vikings scored 51 points in the second half and 83 total at Loyola while only going 2-7 from the three-point line.


Coach McCallum and the Titans picked up their second league victory on Saturday with a 56-55 "W" over Valparaiso. Consider me on the Ray McCallum bandwagon. The Titans play a tough, smart style that I believe is really going to translate to more wins next season when the talent level increases. They're not a good perimeter shooting team, so instead of banging their heads against a wall they shot three 3-pt. FGs Saturday. Chris Hayes has been the guy that has stepped up the past couple of weeks. The 6-9 senior is averaging 14.8 pts. and 6.5 rebs. in his last four games. Perhaps the most encouraging statistic from Saturday's game is that the offensively challenged Titans found a way to win with their leading scorer, junior Thomas Kennedy, going 1-8 from the field.

Penguin Power...?!

Youngstown State is now 5-8 in conference and showing some life. If they can maintain their position in the league standings they would host a first round league game. The Penguins 8 wins, with 6 games to play, gives them a chance to have a double-digit win total for just the second time in the last 8 years.

Butler Flexing its Muscle

Butler walked into a sold-out Nutter Center and dominated from the tip. It was really a sight to see. At one point in the first half, I believe the score was 19-2, Damon and I just looked at each other in disbelief. We both predicted a Raider victory and thought the game was going to be a back-and-forth battle. We couldn't have been more wrong. Driving through New Castle, IN on our way back to Indianapolis I think Zach Hahn (New Castle native) hit four more threes. Troy Tabler, Will Graham, and N'Gai Evans made as many shots as THESE GUYS. Green Bay is going to need some help from Cleveland State or Milwaukee to make up that last game in the league standings. This game could haunt Green Bay for a long time.

Road Trip Note Pt. II

Look out Horizon League, here we come! Damon and myself will be hitting the road this week because we just can't get enough of the Horizon League.

Tuesday: We will be at Loyola for their home game against Wright State (8pm ET / 7pm CT).

Thursday: Traveling to Cleveland for the Milwaukee @ Cleveland State game (7pm ET / 6pm CT).

Friday: Back to Indianapolis for UIC-Butler, Part II (7pm ET / 6pm CT).

Sunday: UIC @ Valpo (4pm ET / 3pm CT), be there or be square. WE WILL.

That's it. Four games in six days. Live blogging the entire time.

*If you live in any of these cities please let us know what we need to do, where we need to eat, and where all of you will be in preparation for all this basketball.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Beginning of an Exciting Journey

For starters...HLN Live-Blog, this Saturday LIVE from the Nutter Center for Wright State vs. Butler. Raiders up, be loud, and we'll show the rest of the HL how you support the green and gold. For those of you who can't make it to the Nutt (we're speaking to you, Butler fans...and anyone else around the HL for that matter), join us here throughout the afternoon and evening for HL analysis, pre-game features and interviews from both sides of the Wright State / Butler matchup, in-game commentary from myself and Adam (complete with YOUR thoughts and comments), and some post-game soundbytes as well. I've always enjoyed my experiences at the Nutter Center, and suspect that this trip will be no different.

It's also worth noting that next week's Horizon League men's basketball schedule is a little out of the ordinary, with games being played on Tuesday-Thursday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday. I'm happy to report that Adam and I will be traveling to games, at the very least, on 4 of those 5 nights. The final schedule is still coming together, but get ready Horizon League week we're coming to Y-O-U.

For now...we'll see you right here on Saturday!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Phoenix Rising

With roughly seven games to go for each team in league play there is a level of excitement back for the stretch run in the Horizon League. Green Bay's victory over league-leading Butler on Monday night changes everything. The senior-led Phoenix took advantage of all their opportunities and did an excellent job of not giving Butler anything to use as momentum. You can stare at the box score until you're blue in the face and watch the game several times over but the game was decided by turnovers. 16-4. The Phoenix 'out Butlered' Butler. They made almost all of their free throws, Troy Cotton hit a back-breaking jump shot toward the end of the game, and they were the more composed team in the second half when they made their run. Green Bay is now only 1/2 game back in the league standings.

What does this mean to the rest of the league?

Green Bay has given the rest of the league hope. No matter what anyone tells you, people around the league were getting worried about this Bulldog team being head and shoulders above everybody else. The thing is...they're not. It shouldn't have taken this loss, or a below-average effort against Valpo at home, or even a close call against Detroit. The league is deep this year. REALLY deep. There are no fewer than five teams in the Horizon League that I think could win a first round game in the NCAA tournament.

The Green Bay victory also gives Milwaukee and Wright State, and Cleveland State some hope. They all have one game with Butler left on their schedule and two of them, UWM, WSU, are at home. Milwaukee's schedule has five road games left but they are in control of their path for a top two seed in the HL tournament.

Cleveland State's victory over Wright State can't be overlooked either. The Vikings were in desperate need, and still are, of getting some league wins for a potential run in the tournament. Cedric Jackson's up and down play is really making it tough for them to string together some wins but the talent is there and Norris Cole is certainly stepping up his game.

Lastly, Ryan Tillema is in the lead in the clubhouse for player of the year. He's now leading the league in scoring and is coming off the bench! His ability to get to the free throw line on Monday really made the difference for the Phoenix.