Posted: Mar 20, 2019
The NCAA East regionals are complete and congratulations to Saint Anselm and Saint Anselm! The duo pulled the double dip and are headed to their respective Elite Eights. In this edition of McCaffrey’s Musings, we wrap up the regionals and the 2019 campaign.
While the season isn’t over for the Hawk ladies, they entered the 2019 NCAA East Regional 0-6 (0-3 Bentley, 0-2 Stonehill, 0-1 Le Moyne) against the field and seeded 7th. Would you believe the Hawks avenged all the earlier defeats and over the four days were the team that most deserved the trip to Columbus? One thing was clear after broadcasting the regional: teams that didn’t play strong schedules didn’t perform to expectations. The third-seeded Jefferson Rams had the talent, but were never able to overcome the brilliant Trisha Brown of Stonehill, who has only lost one game as head coach in the first round and won eight opening contests in a row. You’ll have better luck beating the IRS than Brown when she has over a week to prepare. Le Moyne convincingly handled the Saint Thomas Aquinas Spartans, who did not defeat a team in the NCAA tournament that garnered an at-large bid. The host and top-seeded University of the Sciences squeaked past the New York Institute of Technology before falling to Le Moyne. The star of the regional was McKayla Roberts of the Dolphins, who was the Most Outstanding Player from the runners-up. The junior became the first player from a team that didn’t cut down the nets in the regional to be so honored. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around her not winning NE10 Player of the Year as she averaged 26 points in the regional, including a career-high 35 in the Final. The story was the Hawks, who held opponents to 50.6 points a game in the three-game run and in so doing became the first seed lower than a three to advance out of the East Region to an Elite 8. Good on you, Corey Boilard and company. You’ve won your first regional championship in four tries. Do the region proud in Ohio!
I picked four of the eight teams that made the women's regional in our preseason podcast for the second straight year (I’ll try and do better next fall) and missed two picks in the first round for the first time ever. It wasn’t exactly the perfect bracket I achieved last year but if you were outside of Manchester and picked St. A’s, you should play the Powerball! And that, folks, is why they play the games!
The men’s regional culminated in Keith Dickson’s group advancing to Evansville. Senior Tim Guers brilliantly finished off the region’s best and was dubbed the Most Outstanding Player. For the second straight year, I picked the 7-seed, this time Dominican, to pull an upset and was right. Tobin Anderson and his sixth-seeded St. Thomas Aquinas Spartans came from 19 down and stunned defending regional champ Le Moyne. What a contrast in coaching styles and play between the energetic Anderson and the calm Patrick Beilein. Anderson makes coffee nervous. New Haven held off a Daemen club that seemed to hit a wall late in the year. The seeds that won in the first round were exactly the same on both the men’s and won women’s sides (1,4,6,7). The semifinal round was filled with controversy as an obvious foul was missed against the Spartans as they were mired in a tie game with Dominican with about one second left. The referees swallowed the whistle in mystifying fashion. The Chargers would have had to make a free throw but what’s right is right and that was wrong. The non-call helped STAC win in OT, and sent home their Rockland County neighbor in heartbreaking fashion. The other semifinal also had a borderline call to end the game. There was no doubt of contact against the Hawks as New Haven attempted a final shot and once against no whistle. I can pass on the second call despite the contact of Guers on the hand of Roy Kane, Jr. Was it a foul? Yes. Was it as blatant as nearly taking the arm off the shooter from Dominican? No. The final wasn’t a game as STAC’s run ended thanks to the team of Destiny: Saint Anselm! Good Luck in Indiana!
A few more notes, if you please: I picked six of the men's eight teams (in October’s Podcast) and was so close to getting seven of eight if Bridgeport had won the ECC Final. Credit Molloy for hanging tough in the first round in Manchester. I didn’t select them, but the Lions gave the Hawks quite a scare. I also was 2-2 in predictions on the men’s side, which erased my unblemished bracket from last year. It’s not an exact science and I won’t quit while I’m ahead (or behind)!
A few more tidbits before we sign off. On behalf of announcers everywhere, I’d like to apologize to Saint Thomas Aquinas College. The broadcasters continued to call them Saint Thomas in the men’s regional while I was on the air at the women’s and would never call them that name that they despise. It was nice to meet a lot of the fans of the Musings in Philadelphia, as it was an honor to call my first ever on the women’s side after eight on the men’s. I just wish I could have worked it with Steve Zerdelian. Steve is the gold standard of regional knowledge when it comes to women’s basketball and even brought his revered historical regional notebook for me to use. I hope I did the regional justice and still wish for a chance to join the best picture-painter in the region on a regional at some point. And with that, the 2018-2019 Musings wraps up for the final time. Until next year, Happy Hooping everyone!