Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Green's five takeaways from Loyola-Chicago's 75-62 win over Niagara

Photo Credit: Geno Green

By: Geno Green
Twitter: @TheGenoGreen

After an eight-game home winning streak was snapped in a 60-58 loss to Furman on Nov. 9, Loyola-Chicago bounced back in style with a 75-62 win over Niagara on Wednesday night. Here are my five takeaways from Gentile Arena.

1) Slow motion:

It is not normal when a game begins with an administrative technical foul, but Niagara would be called for one before the opening tip. The result would be a missed free throw attempt from Clayton Custer.

Ramblers coach Porter Moser settled Custer down and encouraged him to shrug it off as a full game was still in play.

“I wanted him to feel loose as I said to him that it was just a bonus free throw,” Moser said. “It was 40 minutes of play still and it was a missed point, so I joked with him and did not want to dwell on it.”

The miss served as a harbinger for early shooting woes as Loyola-Chicago went 6:00 until without a basket. Kruwtig’s layup in the post snapped the drought, but Niagara remained ahead at 15-12 with 11:49 left in the opening half.

2) Disciplinary action:

The bread and butter of the Ramblers’ run to the Final Four last season was their ability to keep turnovers to a minimum, but the first two games of this campaign have been the opposite.

After 14 turnovers each against UMKC and Furman, Loyola-Chicago clamped down with 10 turnovers and shared the wealth with 16 assists against Niagara. Ramblers forward Aher Uguak wants the reduction of mistakes to be consistent once more and not a one-game deal.

“I feel like we can still clean the turnovers up and has been a point of emphasis in practice to drive the ball in the paint,” Uguak said.

3) The Krutwig factor:

In need of a consistent presence on both ends, Cameron Krutwig filled the void with a double-double (18 points and 11 rebounds). The sophomore started the 19-5 run in the latter stages of the first half with back-to-back layups in the post.

Krutwig’s improved athleticism was on full display with an incredible spin move and a flawless turn to the rim for a layup which gave Loyola its biggest lead at 44-29 at the 18:02 mark in the second half.

“It felt good to get back out there after last Friday and play the way we played tonight. We focused on offense given it wasn’t up to par last week and today it showed,” Krutwig said.

4) New Mexico transfer making the little plays:

Despite a 15-point game, sophomore Aher Uguak executed a play that did not appear in the scoring column. Ahead by single digits in the early portion of the second half, Krutwig missed the free throw for the conventional three-point play, but the 6-foot-7 sophomore made a timely play. Uguak slapped of the ball back to Krutwig for the layup, which completed a four-point possession for Loyola-Chicago.

“I was screaming from the bench and loved that play. After that, Krutwig drove it to the rim for the basket. Those are the little things,” Moser said.

Uguak sat out the previous two seasons and is still looking find his identity in his third game.

“I met with [Aher] after the Furman game and told him to have some fun,” Moser said. “He just sat out two years and looked so tight and almost unhappy. I told him that you got to smile and let your defense and all of the little things dictate everything.”

Uguak’s hustle play gave the Ramblers their first double-digit lead of the night at 39-29, but would make an impact on the next offensive possession with a conventional three-point play to further the lead to 13.

5) Paint dominance:

The Ramblers pounded the paint and wore the Purple Eagles down as the game progressed with 50 compared to the latter’s 18.

After finishing with 28 points in the paint against Niagara, Moser wanted to see Loyola get back to getting precise touches inside.

“I like how it was an emphasis for us to get it in the paint,” Moser said. “We had 50 points in the paint tonight and drove to the rim, instead of settling.”

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Projecting the New Year's Six and beyond for Nov. 13

By: Geno Green
Twitter: @TheGenoGreen

Welcome to the 11th New Year's Six projections of the 2018 college football season.

The projections will be based off the CSO Mock CFP Committee rankings on a weekly basis.

Here are the 11th set of projections for this season:

Orange Bowl (CFP Semifinal), Dec. 29:

1) Alabama vs 4) Michigan

Cotton Bowl (CFP Semifinal), Dec. 29:

2) Clemson vs 3) Notre Dame

Peach Bowl, Dec. 29:

11) LSU vs 12) Syracuse

Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 1:

8) Central Florida vs 9) West Virginia

Rose Bowl, Jan. 1:

7) Washington State vs 10) Ohio State 

Sugar Bowl, Jan. 1:

5) Georgia vs 6) Oklahoma 

Other notable bowls:

Alamo Bowl, Dec. 28:

14) Texas vs 17) Washington

Citrus Bowl, Jan. 1:

15) Penn State vs) 16) Florida

CSO Mock College Football Playoff committee Top 25 for Nov. 13

Photo Credit: Dustin Satloff- Getty Images

By: Geno Green
Twitter: @TheGenoGreen

Thanks to the mock selection committee for coming through and making the 11th edition of the rankings possible this season.

Biggest jump: Cincinnati (18) NR

Biggest falls: Kentucky (20) (-8) and Boston College (22) -8

          Team                                Points           Last Week    

1) Alabama (10) 10-0      250              1

2) Clemson 10-0             240               2

3) Notre Dame 10-0       229                3

4) Michigan 9-1             218                4

5) Georgia 9-1               208                5

6) Oklahoma 9-1            198                6

7) Washington State 9-1 184              11 (+4)

8) UCF 9-0                     179               7 (-1)

9) West Virginia 8-1        178               8 (-1)

10) Ohio State 9-1           172              8 (-2)

11) LSU 8-2                     148              10 (-1)

12) Syracuse 8-2             136              13 (+1)

13) Utah State 9-1          107               15 (+2)

14) Texas 7-3                  100               18 (+4)

15) Penn State 7-3           89                21 (+6)

16) Florida 7-3                86                20 (+4)

17) Washington 7-3         85                19 (+2)

18) Cincinnati 9-1           76                NR

19) Iowa State 6-3           71                 23 (+4) 

20) Kentucky 7-3             62                 12 (-8)

21) Utah 7-3                    43                 NR

22) Boston College 7-3    39                 14 (-8)

23) Army 8-2                    28                 NR

24) UAB 9-1                     27                 NR

25) Buffalo 9-1                 19                 NR

Dropped out:

Fresno State (16), NC State (22), Auburn (24), Michigan State (24)

Others receiving votes:

Boise State 18, South Florida 13, Wisconsin 13, Northwestern 10, Auburn 10, Mississippi State 7, Troy 7, Michigan State 7, Duke 2, Fresno State 1

Sunday, November 11, 2018

No. 3 Notre Dame 42, Florida State 13: Irish dominate from start to finish on senior night

Photo Credit: Joe Robbins- Getty Images

By: Jon Opiela
Twitter: @jonopiela24

NOTRE DAME, Ind.— The No. 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10-0) continued their perfect season on Saturday night under the lights of Notre Dame Stadium by defeating Florida State (4-6, 2-5 ACC) 42-13.  In their final game in South Bend, the Fighting Irish recognized their seniors before the start of the game.

Notre Dame dominated the first half offensively, carrying a 32-6 lead into halftime.  Miles Boykin opened the scoring with a three-yard touchdown reception from Brandon Wimbush, just 1:15 into the first quarter. The short drive was set up by an interception from Nick Coleman on Deondre Francois’ first pass attempt of the evening. Boykin’s touchdown reception marked his sixth consecutive game with a touchdown, becoming the first Notre Dame wide receiver to do so since Will Fuller V did so in 2014.

Alize Mack hauled in two touchdown receptions for Notre Dame in the half as well. Mack finished the contest with three receptions, two of which were touchdowns.

The storyline of the week out of South Bend was that quarterback Ian Book would be unable to play in Saturday night’s contest, leaving Brandon Wimbush to start. Wimbush led the Irish offense for the first three weeks of the season, including the teams 24-17 victory over Michigan. Wimbush stepped up to the plate and showed why he had been Notre Dame’s quarterback throughout the entire 2017 campaign as well as the beginning of the 2018 season.  Wimbush tied his career high with three passing touchdowns and added 130 yards through the air.

While Kelly would not name Book the starter for the Syracuse game, all signs point to Book moving back to QB1, if healthy.

“We still have competition. I mean, let’s get this thing going. I mean, I want front page news. Let’s get this,” Kelly joked. “We want controversy. We want a full-blown quarterback controversy.”

Brutal playing conditions may have played a part in Florida State’s sluggish start to the contest.  With a temperature of just 27 degrees at the opening kickoff, it was the third-coldest game in Notre Dame Stadium since 1980. Despite the awful conditions, the contest marked the 268th consecutive sellout of Notre Dame Stadium, dating back to 1974.

Florida State responded by opening the second half with a seven-yard touchdown run by Cam Akers.  Stanford Samuels intercepted Wimbush on Notre Dame’s first drive of the half, setting the Seminoles up with fantastic field position.

Notre Dame’s defense came up with a superb goal-line stand late in the third quarter, eliminating a Florida State scoring threat. The Seminoles began with first-and-goal from the one-yard line before the Irish defense smothered the threat.

Florida State came into the contest with one of the top run defenses in the country, allowing just 111.1 yards of rushing per game coming into the contest. Notre Dame torched the Florida State defense en route to 365 yards on the ground. Dexter Williams contributed with 202 yards on 20 carries, including touchdown runs of 58 and 32 yards.

“I think we’re seeing the effects of a back that is coming into his own and getting an opportunity now later in his career certainly, but seeing things, learning things and tapping into his potential,” Kelly said on Williams. “Notre Dame is the beneficiary, and he will be too.”

Heading into the final two weeks of the regular season, Notre Dame is clicking on all cylinders and producing in all three aspects of the game – offense, defense, and special teams. If Notre Dame can continue at this pace, they should continue to win out for the remainder of the regular season.

Looking Ahead:

Next week, Notre Dame will head to Yankee Stadium in New York City to take on No. 13 Syracuse (8-2, 5-2 ACC) in the “Shamrock Series” game on Nov. 17. Despite the game being played closer to Syracuse’s campus, Notre Dame will be the home team. Florida State returns home to Doak Campbell Stadium to take on No. 17 Boston College.