Sunday, November 22, 2009

This Past Week in the CAA

Sorry that I have not posted a lot of articles lately. With my mom in the hospital this past week, I have spent most of my time there. So, I hope to make up for it with a long article about the past week in the CAA.

As noted in my live blog updates, Hofstra hosted Farmingdale State Friday night at the Mack Center as their first home game of the season. It was also the fourth game in a week for the Pride, which started at Kansas last Friday, then two games at UConn; a win over Yale on Monday and a close loss to #12 UConn on Tuesday (more on that in a little bit) and culminating with a 39 point win over Farmingdale State, 87-49.

As noted in my Friday live updates, 2009 Haggerty Award Winner and First Team All CAA member Charles Jenkins landed awkwardly on the floor after being fouled by Farmingdale States' Mike Campbell. Jenkins stayed on the floor for a few minutes and had to be helped off the court. He appeared on the bench in the second half and was somewhat woozy. He should be ready for the Monday night NIT consolation bracket game vs. Elon. Nathaniel Lester scored 21 points, Yves Jules scored 12 points, Chaz Williams had 11 points and 9 assists and Miklos Szabo had a double double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Hofstra used a 32-10 run to turn a three point game into a a 53-28 halftime lead. The Pride would cruise from there.

It was a very wild week for the CAA as several of the member teams played high profile games on ESPN, a couple of which were against ranked opponents.

The CAA played a part in three featured games during Tuesday's 24 hours of college basketball on ESPN, which my former subordinate at work used to pronounce as "S-PIN", one of the many reasons I don't talk to her anymore. :-) All three teams gave solid performances on the road but couldn't get the job done.

First, it was an 8am wakeup call for the Dragons of Drexel as they took on the Purple Eagles of Niagara. Drexel held high scoring Niagara to 34 percent shooting from the field but too much Bilal Benn (19 points and 14 rebounds) and Purple Eagle free throw shooting (25 of 31 from the line) slayed the Dragons at the end. Niagara won Gerald Colds led Drexel with 18 points while Niagara's Rob Garrison scored 20 points to lead all scorers.

Then Siena, one of the darlings of the NCAA Tournament the last two years, used a 18-3 run to start the second half to come from behind to defeat Northeastern 59-53. The Huskies got off to a 20-6 lead, but the Saints scored 12 straight points over six minutes, helped by four Huskie turnovers and four missed shots to cut the lead to 20-18 before Northeastern stretched the lead back out to six, 26-20 at halftime. Then the Saints went on that big second half run and Northeastern would never get closer than five points the rest of the way. Edwin Ubiles led Siena and all scorers with 26 points, while Matt Janning led Northeastern with 14 points.

Then came the evening Preseason NIT matchup, Hofstra vs. #13 UConn. Little did everyone know that this would become one of the best games of the day. UConn would storm out early to a 19-9 lead, which was still ten at 26-16 with 5:36 left before the Pride cut the lead to seven, 30-23 at the half. Hofstra had struggled shooting in the first half, shooting 9 of 40 with Charles Jenkins shooting an abysmal 2 of 10 with only four points. Yet they were only down seven to the Huskies. My friend Grant Hayden e-mailed me saying if they hit just a few of those missed layups, they would be ahead.

Grant was channeling Nostradamus because the Pride would get red hot from the outside in the second half. With UConn up 40-33 with 14:35 left, Hofstra would go on a 21-5 run over the next five minutes, capped by a three pointer by Cornelius Vines to put the Pride up 54-45 with 9:10 left in the game. Vines would have two three pointers in that run, as would Halil Kanacevic and Jenkins had one of his own as well. My friend Tony Terentieff was at the game and he said "It's raining threes here".

The Huskies would come back thanks mainly to Jerome Dyson, Kemba Walker and Stanley Robinson. Tyson's tip in with 4:14 left gave UConn a 63-62 lead, one they would never relinquish. This was due in part to a bad charge call on Charles Jenkins that would have potentially given Hofstra the lead with 1:58 left. The replay clearly showed that the UConn player did not have position and was still sliding his feet when Jenkins went into him. The score remained 65-64 UConn and the Pride would never get any closer. In fact Dyson would score the next nine points for UConn as the Huskies held on for a 76-67 win over a game Hofstra squad.

Dyson had 23 points for the Huskies, while Walker chipped in with 16 and Robinson with 15. Jenkins had 21 of his 25 points in the second half while Vines had 18 on six three pointers and Kanacevic had 8 points and 10 rebounds.

Then on Wednesday both VCU and Delaware lost by double digits. At least in the VCU game, the Rams were up at halftime at Western Michigan 42-35. However, VCU shot poorly in the second half (30 percent for the game) and scored only 25 points in the second half while Western Michigan scored 48 points as the Broncos went onto win 83-67. Bradford Burgess led the Rams with 16 points by going 8 of 8 from the charity stripe. Meanwhile Delaware got clocked at home by Bucknell 82-66. Down 20-18, the Bison went on a 16-4 run to go up 14 at the half and never looked back. Jawan Carter led the Fighting Blue Hens with 17 points.

Thursday brought another opportunity for a huge national upset and George Mason nearly pulled it off. The Patriots were taking on #6 Villanova and they took it to the Wildcats early. George Mason were up by 13 with 1o minutes left in the first half before taking a nine point halftime lead 37-28. However, Nova's 42-29 rebound advantage played a major part in their second half comeback. Isaiah Armwood's three pointer with 13 seconds left put the Wildcats up one. The Patriots could not get a shot off the rest of the game and Villanova won barely 69-68. Ryan Pearson led the Patriots with 14 points and 8 rebounds.

UNC Wilmington finally got off the schneid and won their first game in a big way. The Seahawks stunned the defending NIT champion Penn State 80-69 in the first round of the Charleston Classic. Chad Tomko scored 21 points, including four three pointers to lead UNCW. Wilmington was 10 of 16 from beyond the three point arc. William and Mary also got off the schneid, stunning a solid Richmond team 78-71 at Williamsburg. David Schneider had four of the Mary's thirteen three pointers and led the Tribe with 25 points. Finally ODU gave the CAA a 3-1 record on Thursday as they squashed another cupcake, a Seth Curry less Liberty squad 73-41 (Curry transferred to Duke after his freshman season at Liberty). Kevon Carter's 17 points, including 3 of 3 from beyond the arc, led the Monarchs.

Friday saw six CAA teams in non conference action, including the above mentioned Pride's slaughtering of Division III Farmingdale State. However, the Pride was the only CAA team to win Friday night. UNC Wilmington tried again for another upset in the Charleston Classic, going out to a 22-8 lead on Miami Fla. Alas the Hurricanes stormed back and downed the Seahawks 67-60. Tomko again led the Monarchs with 16 points. Georgia State lost their first round game in the Daytona Classic to Drake 67-58. Joe Dukes led the Panthers with 20 points on 6 of 13 shooting. However, the rest of Georgia State shot 14 of 48 from the field.

Drexel lost a typical low scoring Dragon slobberknocker fest, 58-56 at Rutgers. Gerald Colds
led the Dragons with 12 points, but his 4 of 14 shooting from the field was the example of Drexel's cold shooting on the night. The Dragons shot an abysmal 26 percent from the field, including 3 of 18 from beyond the arc. Meanwhile in the first round of the 2K Sports Classic in Miami, James Madison suffered their second pounding of the season, a 71-43 drubbing by a pretty good Murray State. The Dukes were ice cold from the field shooting 28 percent from the field, including 13 percent from beyond the arc. JMU was also equally cold from the line, shooting 8 of 14 from the charity stripe.

Finally George Mason suffered a letdown from their near miss of an upset vs. Villanova. A combination of cold shooting plus a very athletic Yellow Jacket team put the Patriots in a early second half hole, as Georgia Tech was up 43-23 with 15 minutes left. Georgia Tech held on a 70-62 win over Mason. Redshirt freshman forward Kevin Foster had 15 points and 9 rebounds to lead the Patriots.

Saturday brought much better results for the CAA, as the Colonial teams went 6-1 in their seven games. Georgia State knocked off Howard 57-33 in the Daytona Classic as Trey Hampton had a double double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. The Panthers outrebounded the Bison 41-24. It took two overtimes, but Delaware got their first win of the season, a 97-94 win over Penn. Jawan Carter had a career high 35 points, including 19 from the charity stripe for the Blue Hens. Towson suffered the only loss for the Colonial, losing at home in overtime 78-69 to Buffalo. Troy Franklin, Calvin "The Handful" Lee, Jarrel Smith and Josh Thornton combined for 61 of the 69 Tiger points.

Old Dominion finally had their first non cupcake win of the season, 70-62 over Marshall. Gerald Lee scored 22 points as the Monarchs shot 52 percent from the field, despite shooting 2 of 11 from beyond the arc. ODU is now 4-0 on the season. The Mary evened up their record at 2-2 on the season as they went 12 of 27 from beyond the arc in their 75-70 win at Manhattan. Danny Sumner, David Schneider and Quinn McDowell combined to score 57 of the 75 points in the win. Northeastern got a very solid non-conference win over the always good Aggies of Utah State 64-61. Matt Janning had 14 points for the Huskies.

Finally, after two near misses, the CAA finally got that signature win over a nationally ranked team. VCU at home knocked off #17 Oklahoma 82-69. Jay Gavin showed his three shooting process nailing four threes for 20 points to lead the Rams attack. Larry Sanders added 17 for VCU. The Rams got out to a 40-23 first half start and coasted the rest of the way. The Rams held the Sooners to 5 of 26 from beyond the arc.

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