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The SportsTalk Shop: College Basketball Updates

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In the last several blog entries, we’ve examined a plethora of winter sports news in the RCN-TV coverage areas dealing with professional and scholastic sports.  This week, I’d like to highlight some exciting accomplishments among the collegiate teams in action right now.

First, I had a chance to talk with American University’s Head Basketball Coach Mike Brennan about a series of standout moments in his current season—from several last-second, game-winning contests, both in and out of the Patriot League, to his team meeting baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr. as well as other highlights in his current season.

Some of American’s highlights this year include Pee Wee Gardner scoring two last second, game-winning baskets in consecutive games.  Gardner’s late-game heroics earned him Patriot League Player of the Week honors this past week.   The Eagles also posted several non-conference wins including an overtime defeat against La Salle, and nearly beating my alma mater, Temple, in its opening game of the season.  It won’t be an easy week as the defending Patriot League champ has to play four of its next five games on the road, including tough ones against Navy,  Holy Cross, and the team currently in first place in the league, Colgate.   The Raiders jumped out to their best start in decades this season and have been very tough playing at home this winter.

Currently Brennan’s squad finds itself just one game out of first place, and just ahead of two other teams in our viewing area, Lehigh and Lafayette.  Speaking of the Mountain Hawks and Leopards, they also have some impressive wins this year.  Lafayette has posted wins against Princeton, Penn, NJIT, Loyola Maryland and Boston—a team that lost to American in last year’s league championship.  Lehigh barely squeaked by the Leopards when the two teams met last weekend and has tough opponents coming up against Bucknell and Army over the next week.

On the women’s side, Lafayette’s Emily Homan was recently selected as one of 30 women’s basketball candidates for the Senior CLASS Award. The senior forward leads the Leopards and is second in the Patriot League in scoring, averaging nearly 18 points per game.  Lehigh’s Kerry Kinek, who had an outstanding scholastic career at Allentown Central Catholic, continues to have an outstanding junior campaign, and is among her team’s leaders in points, three-points, blocks, three-point and free throw shooting percentages and rebounding.

I had the tremendous honor of watching another player in high school, Darrun Hilliard, who continues to lead a Villanova team that’s currently ranked fourth in the nation.  Hilliard leads the team in points and three-pointers and is second in a bunch of other statistical categories.  Nova is coming off a tough loss to another team in the RCN viewing area, Georgetown, 78-58.  The win puts the Hoyas one win ahead of the Wildcats in the Big East Standings, and should make for an interesting rematch when the two teams square off against each other once again in early February in Philadelphia.

Kara Bonenberger, another outstanding athlete RCN viewers had a chance to see play at Northampton HS, has gone on to a stellar career at Penn (currently 9-5 in the Ivy League).  She’s been part of an “Iron-5” that has started every game so far this year and is among her team’s leaders in points, rebounds and field goal percentage.  Bonenberger, a senior co-captain who has earned many rewards during her collegiate career, leads a team that’s looking to defend its Ivy League title.  Penn’s recent highlights include wins over Temple, NJIT and Richmond but still have more than half its league schedule still to play.

Other Big 5 notes include my Owls pulling off a big win against a Kansas team ranked tenth in the nation at the time they played.  Following three consecutive league losses, Temple has bounced back with a win over USF and has several big contests coming up over the next several weeks if they want to improve their seeding for the American Conference playoffs.  The Owls will face all the teams currently in front of them in the standings, with UConn and Cincinnati coming to the Liacouras Center and Temple having to travel to play SMU and Memphis on the road.

St. Joe’s and LaSalle have struggled to stay above .500 and find themselves several games back of the top spot in the Atlantic-10.  However, another team in our area, George Washington, has jumped out to an amazing start and finds itself with just one league loss entering a big ball game against VCU.   The Colonials are led by Patricio Garino, Kethan Savage and Kevin Larsen—all scoring in double figures for GW this season.

What other college teams in the RCN-TV viewing area would you like to see us highlight here on the “SportsTalk Shop” or on our live Thursday night “SportsTalk” show?  Which players in our coverage area deserve some extra mention or should receive a shout-out?  We always welcome your comments, suggestions and opinions!  Email us at any time at RCNSportsTalk@rcn.com and check back for more updates on teams and athletes in the RCN viewing area!