Saturday, January 15, 2011

Hofstra Bloggers and Thoughts about ODU- Hofstra

I followed along with the Mid Majority Chat Block yesterday before a work matter interrupted me late in the day.  Someone named Joe asked if the Mid Majority, aka Kyle Whelliston, could officially gives Charles Jenkins a nickname and he suggested "The Takeover".    Here's what Kyle wrote back.

"Whoa, that's pretty awesome. I think it should always be displayed in a fake science fiction typeface from a "300 fonts for $5" DVD, too. We'll have to get consensus on this, and the Hofstra bloggers will have to weigh in, but I'm on board with this."
When I first read this,  immediately I noticed "Hofstra bloggers", as in plural.  Now if you are one of the few, the proud, the readers of the site, you know I often reference Jerry Beach, aka Mr. Defiantly Dutch.  To me, he's always been THE Hofstra Blogger.  But Kyle said bloggers, and knowing Kyle well, he certainly meant "bloggers", plural.

Well, there's only one other blogger I know that writes about Hofstra...yours truly.  And yes, I write about every Hofstra basketball game.  But I never considered myself a "Hofstra blogger".   This site, the College Hardwood, has always been more than just Hofstra.   The College Hardwood is also about covering other local men's teams like Iona.   A lot of articles on here feature the Iona women's team as well.  Then there's coverage of early season tournaments, like the Preseason NIT Tipoff and the 2K Classic (which still is not a tournament).   Finally, there's occasionally an article about other teams I like (and if you check the aforementioned chat block, you will see a comment from me about my favorite WCC team).

But when it comes down to it, impartial as I try to be, I am first and foremost a Hofstra fan.  I cover every Hofstra home game since I sit in section 111, Row D, seat 10.  There of course have been many road trips I have gone on to see the Pride, er Flying Dutchmen (sorry Jerry) play.   And of course, the many CAA Tournaments that I have gone too, where my first allegiance is hoping to see Hofstra win.

So when it comes down to it, yeah, I am a Hofstra men's basketball blogger.  And there is nothing wrong with it.   As for Jenkins nickname, I like "The Takeover."  But if you read this site regularly, you know my nickname for Jenkins is "The Force of Nature", because you can't stop a force of nature.  And no player and no team that I have seen has ever really stopped Jenkins, especially this season.

As for the Old Dominion - Hofstra game, my feelings are a lot like Beach's feelings right now.  In fact, we were IMing on Facebook Wednesday night.  We were also tweeting back forth "Blaine Taylor as Lou Brown" quotes.  Let's face it, Blaine Taylor, the coach of "The Ground and Pound of College Basketball", who I admire greatly as a coach, looks a lot like Lou Brown, the Cleveland Indians manager from the first two "Major League" movies (James Gammon, the actor who played Lou Brown, may you rest in peace).

As much as a mid January sixth game in conference can be, this is an extremely important game for both teams.   Already after the loss to Drexel, there has been a lot of press about Old Dominion perhaps losing their at large bid hopes due to conference record, which I think is ridiculous at this moment.   However,  the fact is that if the Monarchs lose to the Pride today, they will be 3-3 in conference, three games in back of Hofstra, and Hofstra has the tiebreaker (since the teams only play this one time for the season).

For Hofstra, it's a statement game.  They can go to 6-0 in conference and have sole possession of first place through one third of the CAA season.  The next three games in their schedule, though not easy, are all winnable - home to UNCW, at William and Mary, home to James Madison.   The Pride with a win over the Monarchs and a favorable slate over the next ten days could set themselves up for a first round bye in the CAA Tournament.  And CAA Tournament history has shown how important that is.

As for the game itself - here are the key factors for each team.

Old Dominion - First, they must shoot better than they did against Drexel.  The nationally televised game on the U showed the Monarchs weakness.  They are not a very good shooting team.  And when they face a team that can rebound as equally as well, as the Dragons can and did, their offense is neutralized. The Monarchs live off of offensive rebounds and when they don't get those, they are in trouble.  Better shooting obviously lessens that need for offensive rebounding.

Second, they have to get the Hofstra bigs in foul trouble.  The Pride are only three deep in the frontcourt (seldom used Paul Bilbo getting helped off the court late in the Towson game puts his status in doubt).   They will try their best to get Frank Hassell and Keyon Carter to go right at Greg Washington, who is foul prone.

Finally, the Monarchs have to limit Hofstra's ball movement.  The Pride's key to success over the last four games has been their ability to pass the ball around and find the open man.  It's no longer just Jenkins as Hofstra now regularly has three to five players in double figures.   If ODU can limit it Hofstra's offense to force Jenkins to play a one man show, then they are in good shape.  The Monarchs certainly won't stop Jenkins but if they can force Hofstra to funnel their offense through him solely, then they have a good chance of winning.

Hofstra - There are three keys for their success against ODU.  First, they have to get Jenkins involved early.  At times this season, the Pride have not got Jenkins involved and dug holes for themselves as a result (see their games against Florida Atlantic and Iona as examples).  Hofstra can not afford to be down double digits early against Old Dominion (yes Drexel did comeback, but expecting ODU to shoot like they did in the second half against the Dragons again is high unlikely).

Second, ball possession will be key.  And there are three elements to that.  a) Crash the boards on the defensive end.  Make ODU pay for missing their first shot and send all hands on deck.  Limit the second chance opportunities.  b)  Move the ball around as they have in their past four games.  Make sure it's a balanced attack and that not everything is funneling through Jenkins.  c) Keep up the excellent turnover margin and assist to turnover ratio.  Hofstra is among the CAA leaders in both categories.  If Hofstra holds onto the ball better than ODU, it will negate for the most part the rebounding advantage the Monarchs will likely have.

Finally, third, keep the game close.  If the game is close at the end, it favors Hofstra.  The Pride lead the CAA in free throw shooting and Old Dominion is towards the bottom in the category.  Free throw shooting and ball possession are the two key factors in close games.  Those are Hofstra's strong points.

How will it all turnout?  Who knows, but it should be a good game.  If you don't have plans, I suggest heading to the Mack Complex in Hempstead for two great hours of live college basketball.

By the way, I also tweet at @gmoore21566.  And if you follow me on Twitter, you will notice I tweet much more on college basketball than just Hofstra.  See you at the Mack and if not follow me on Twitter!

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