Charlotte Observer 4/4/12: St. Joe’s ends Charlotte’s season

Posted April 13, 2012 by Aaron Bracy
Categories: Uncategorized

Hawks end 49ers’ season

By Aaron Bracy

PHILADELPHIA Charlotte couldn’t work its defensive magic a second time at Saint Joseph’s.

The 49ers forced the Hawks into one of their worst offensive performances of the season in Charlotte’s regular-season win on Hawk Hill in early January, but couldn’t do it with the stakes a little higher this time around.

Carl Jones scored 23 points and fifth-seeded St. Joseph’s shot 54.7 percent from the field and 47.6 percent from the arc in an 80-64 victory against No. 12 seed Charlotte in the first round of the Atlantic 10 tournament at Hagan Arena.

The Hawks (20-12) advance to Friday’s quarterfinals in Atlantic City, N.J., while Charlotte (13-17) ends its season for the fourth straight year without a postseason tournament.

“Defensively we had some lapses on the ball screens and they got a lot of transition buckets,” said Charlotte senior Javarris Barnett, who had nine points in his final game. “Our effort down the stretch, one or two plays here or there would’ve went our way, I think it would’ve been a closer game. St. Joe’s outplayed us, props to them. They’re a good team.”

St. Joseph’s, which shot 2-for-21 in the 57-52 defeat Jan. 7, got 18 points from Langston Galloway. In the first matchup, the Hawks’ backcourt of Jones and Galloway combined for 20 points and nine turnovers. This time they had 41 points and one turnover.

“Their two key guys got going tonight,” Charlotte coach Alan Major said. “Their ‘A’ students got ‘A’s, that’s probably the biggest difference.”

The 49ers never led but closed St. Joseph’s 52-38 advantage with 13 minutes, 47 seconds left to 63-60 on Victor Nickerson’s 3-pointer with 6:59 to play.

But the Hawks scored four straight to gain a comfortable seven-point edge and then put the game away with consecutive three-point plays by Jones and Galloway, the latter upping the lead to 75-64 with 1:21 left.

“Every time we’d make a push, one of those two guys would be right there to make a play,” Major said.

Chris Braswell had 20 points and seven rebounds to lead the 49ers, who also got 12 points from DeMario Mayfield.

Barnett, the lone senior in the starting lineup, said the loss was like several this season.

“The little things that help you win,” he said of what was lacking at times. “In those close games we couldn’t do it and that ultimately hurt us in those close games.”

Major is optimistic that the 49ers can turn things around.

“We’re not that far off,” he said. “It’s not about talent and being good enough, it’s about little things that separate us. I’m very excited about it. We’ll have a lot of developmental time and that to me is the exciting thing.”



Posted December 28, 2010 by Aaron Bracy
Categories: Uncategorized

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Posted December 28, 2010 by Aaron Bracy
Categories: Uncategorized

Hope you can join me:

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Committee slights Temple

Posted March 15, 2010 by Aaron Bracy
Categories: 1, College Hoops

A five seed? Really? Not only that, but Temple has to play a tough Cornell team in the first round.

Maybe it won’t matter in the end, but the Owls deserved better. Like Seth Davis said, a No. 4 seed at worst, and a No. 3 seed at best.

Big night in Philly college hoops

Posted January 21, 2009 by Aaron Bracy
Categories: 1

Four Philly teams take the court tonight, with Villanova at UConn highlighting the slate of three games. Saint Joseph’s hosts Duquesne at the Palestra while Penn travels up Broad Street to play La Salle.


Here’s a capsule look at the three games:


No. 20 Villanova (14-3, 2-2 Big East) at No. 3 UConn (16-1, 5-1), 7 p.m.



Radio: ESPN-950 AM

Preview: The Wildcats will have their hands full with UConn, which places five players in double figures. The balanced Huskies are led by Jeff Adrien’s 14.5 ppg. Sharpshooter A.J. Price (10.8 ppg) hits 43 percent of his shots from the arc. Dante Cunningham averages 17.4 ppg and 7.4 rpg for the ’Cats, who also get 15.2 ppg from Scottie Reynolds.

Interesting stat: UConn has outrebounded all of its opponents this season.

Prediction: UConn 72, Nova 59


Duquesne (12-5, 3-1 Atlantic 10) at St. Joe’s (9-7, 3-0), 7 p.m.

TV: None

Radio: WNTP-990 AM

Preview: The Hawks had a bumpy nonconference record, but have put together four straight wins – including all three in A-10 play. Ahmad Nivins averages a double-double for SJU, with 19.6 ppg and 11.0 rpg. The Hawks have won eight in a row in Philly over the Dukes. DU is improved this year, although the Dukes’ record is a little misleading because they are not in the top 100 in RPI. DU’s leading scorer Aaron Jackson (17.8 ppg) is questionable with a bruised tailbone.

Interesting stat: DU put up 102 points in a 102-88 win over SJU last February.

Prediction: St. Joe’s 65, DU 60


Penn at La Salle (9-7), 7 p.m.

TV: None

Radio: WXPN-88.5 FM

Preview: A young Penn squad that has struggled this season travels to Tom Gola Arena. The 4-8 Quakers start two sophs and two frosh, along with senior Brennan Votel. Soph Tyler Bernardini paces the Quakers with 13.8 ppg, while soph Jack Eggleston (10.3 ppg) and Votel (10.7) also top double figures. Rodney Green scores a team-best 15.4 ppg for the athletic Explorers, who trail the all-time series 38-23.

Interesting stat: Penn has had just one game this season where the final margin hasn’t been in double-digits.

Prediction: La Salle 79, Penn 52


That’s all for now


A familiar feeling for Birds fans

Posted January 19, 2009 by Aaron Bracy
Categories: Eagles

Tags: , , ,

Learning how to deal with disappointment is part of learning how to be an Eagles fan, something my 1-year-old son found out today.


(OK, maybe he didn’t know what was going on, but I’ll tell him about it in a few years.)


Sunday’s 32-25 loss to Arizona was disappointing, but not surprising.


I’m 32 years old and have never seen a title for the Birds. My fondest memories of the Birds growing up are of Buddy Ryan’s Gang Green machine – and they never even won a playoff game despite a defense that always ranked among the NFL’s best.


The dominant Eagles teams of the early 2000s under Andy Reid should have won a Super Bowl or two or three, but only played in one and we all know the outcome there.


I, like many pundits, figured the Eagles would cakewalk past the Cardinals, not the least of which because they are the, you know, Cardinals.


But somehow the men in red managed to disappoint us all again. That’s OK because we know the feeling. It’s part of bleeding green, right?


Here are some thoughts on the Eagles’ fourth NFC title loss (frown) in their last five visits:


–Donovan McNabb played a decent game at QB, but he continued his frustrating track record of not being able to take the team on a winning (or, in this case, tying) drive. All of the great ones did it (and some not so great, see Eli Manning in 2008 Super Bowl), but McNabb doesn’t come up large in big spots.


The Birds trailed by 7 with 2:53 left and needed McNabb to take them 80 yards for the tying score. He got the Cards’ 47, but that was it. Certainly it’s not all on McNabb’s shoulders, but you have to find a way to get it done if you want to be great and he didn’t – and hasn’t in the past.


–Did someone forget to tell the Birds’ defense the start time? Brian Dawkins’ bunch didn’t show up until after halftime. By then, it was 24-6 in favor of the hosts. Then, whether it was halftime adjustments or whatever, the Eagles came out flying after the break and shut the Cards down in the second half – until it most mattered.


Down 1 with 10:45 left, Cards QB Kurt Warner marched Arizona 72 yards on 14 plays, chewing up 7:52 of the clock to put the hosts back in front. The defense looked like its old, first-half self on that drive.


When the Eagles really needed a big play to hold the Cards to a field goal, no one stepped up and Tim Hightower scored on a perfectly executed screen pass from 8 yards out.


–The Eagles caught a huge break when the refs ruled that Victor Abiamiri muffed the kickoff and the ball touched out of bounds, giving the Birds the ball on their own 43 with 3:06 left in the first half.


The Cards tried to challenge but were denied because the ball was ruled out. Replays showed that the ball never touched the sideline, and also were inconclusive whether Abiamiri even touched the ball.


It didn’t end up mattering, but it was a break nonetheless – something you can point out to Birds fans who feel the refs are always against the Eagles.


–On that same play, was Troy Aikman saying the Cards intentionally kicked the ball short to attempt to recover it? The noise level in my parents’ house got raised at the time so I didn’t hear him clearly, but I thought that’s what he said.


I would guess that the Cards were just trying a pooch kick to prevent any kind of long return.


Here are some more random thoughts after watching the game…


–DeSean Jackson is good; Greg Lewis is not.


–Ridiculous penalty by Quintin Demps. Deserves a fine.


–Chris Myers is useless as a sideline reporter. Pam Oliver is OK.


–Brian Westbrook looked old and slow. Correll Buckhalter still has some jump.


–Hank Baskett can block … but can’t catch.


–Kevin Curtis is better than I thought.


–Awful hold by Rocca on Akers’ missed extra point.


–Larry Fitzgerald is a beast … but Sheldon Brown and Demps need to be better in coverage.


–Kurt Warner is tough.


–Remember all the talk about the D-line’s resurgence? Maybe it got to their heads.


–FOX graphics needs an editor. It’s “McNabb” not “McBabb.”


–Brent Celek will soon make us all forget L.J. Smith.


Moving on…


The Sixers have put together a nice, little streak of seven straight wins – as Elton Brand still sits and watches.


I’ll be in the big house Monday to see how they fare against the Mavs.



That’s all for now.

Remembering a special Giants fan

Posted January 14, 2009 by Aaron Bracy
Categories: Misc.

(I thought a lot about my late grandfather, a huge Giants fan, this week. It’s been more than six years since he died and I still miss him very much. I am sharing this column that was published in the Courier-Post on Dec. 31, 2002.)


For the last two decades, a telephone call always came from Virginia after the Eagles played the Giants.

Sometimes it was to congratulate and other times to console, but never – ever – to boast.

The phone didn’t ring after Saturday’s 10-7 Giants’ overtime win over the Eagles. Even though I knew it wouldn’t, I hoped like heck it would.

My grandfather – the one Giants fan who I considered a friend – died nearly two months ago. This was the first Eagles-Giants game he wasn’t around.

Pop didn’t introduce me to sports, but he helped foster my love for the games. Rarely did a phone call, an e-mail or an in-person visit go by without a discussion about sports. And, usually, the topic was his beloved Giants and my beloved Eagles.

I wonder what he would have said to me after Saturday’s game, a not well-played but nonetheless exciting affair. “That was some ballgame by (Jeremy) Shockey and (Kerry) Collins,” he could have said.

But more likely, “That was an exciting game. That’s some team the Eagles have. I think they’re going to go far in the playoffs.”

That’s the kind of man he was. Not one to gloat, always one to respect the opponent and the game. What beautiful lessons I learned from him.

He was a true fan, one who sticks with his team when they’re winning – and when they’re losing. He told me once, “Aaron, all you can ask for as a fan is for your team to be competitive.”

It wasn’t about winning the Super Bowl to him (although the mounting in his office of the 1986 Giants’ championship team was one of his most prized possessions), it was about having the chance to win it – getting to the playoffs, putting a good team on the field. Not the win-it-all or nothing mentality that grips many of today’s sports fans, especially my colleagues in Philadelphia.

The last time I spoke to him, six days before his death, we talked, of course, about the Giants. He was so sick he could barely speak, but I asked what he thought of the Giants and he managed this: “I wish they would use Ron Dayne more,” he said in slurred speech.

He loved his team, for sure.

I won’t soon forget that conversation, as short as it was. It was my last one with him.

And, I won’t forget one of our last outings together, and the last one before he got really sick.

I called with the excitement of an 8-year-old to tell Pop the great news – I had landed a pair of tickets to the 2001 Eagles-Giants playoff game at Giants Stadium and I wanted him to come up from his home in Fairfax, Va. to attend with me.

“Oh Aaron I wish I could but I’m just not well,” he said, breaking my heart although I understood.

While driving home trying to figure out what to do with the tickets, the phone rang: “Aaron, this is going to be my last hurrah,” said Pop, changing his mind.

I couldn’t have been happier.

We looked into the handicap accommodations at Giants Stadium and found that Pop wouldn’t have to walk to our seats – which were just a few rows from the heavens. We arrived early and waited at the gates patiently, until finally a golf cart drove us to our seats over an hour before kickoff.

It’s a day I’ll never forget. Pop, at 81, acted like he was 7 that day. He was so happy, watching the Giants defeat the Eagles to advance to the NFC Championship Game. Truthfully, I was too. There would be many more games for me – and hopefully more chances for the Eagles – but not many more left for Pop, I knew.

The day was capped off with first-class treatment by the Giants. Not only were we driven to the exits, but the golf cart continued into the parking lot and all the way out to our car. It was first-class treatment by a first-class organization that was only fitting for a first-class fan.

Pop couldn’t have been happier.

As wonderful as the day was, it was frustrating for Pop, at times, because his view often was obstructed as the excited Giants fans in front of him stood and cheered during big plays and key moments. Pop couldn’t get up and down easily and he would ask the people in front of him to sit down so he too could see the action.

I smiled at the thought that he didn’t have to do that this time. He watched last Saturday’s big game unobstructed, just a little higher than before.

This time, from heaven.


Post script: After the story was published, I sent a copy to late Giants owner Wellington Mara. I received a very nice, hand-written note back, saying “Dear Aaron, Although I didn’t know your grandfather, I feel as though I did after reading your letter and the article about him. I feel a share in your loss. Sincerely, Well Mara.” Classy. Very classy!



That’s all for now.