Saturday, December 3, 2011

James Madison vs. Hofstra Preview

As noted in my previous post, it's the first day of CAA conference play.  Outside of VCU and UNCW, all ten other teams are playing against each other today.  And in Hempstead, we have a rematch of the classic overtime thriller from last season where Hofstra rallied in regulation against James Madison and won in overtime 92-90.  When the Pride joined the CAA in the 2001-02 season, the Dukes won the first three games in the series.  Since then, Hofstra has won twelve straight.   Here are seven things to look for in today's game.
  1. Expect a High Scoring, Close Game - First you have JMU who leads the CAA in scoring and is next to last in scoring defense.  Second, you have Hofstra who is third in the CAA in FG percentage at 44.3, but is also next to last in the CAA in FG percentage defense at 46.6 percent.  The Pride are allowing a stunning 54.6 percent of two point field goals attempted.

    Third, when the Dukes and the Pride get together at the Mack Center, there is a history of high scoring, overtime games.  There have been three overtime games in the past six years where the winning team, Hofstra, has scored in the 90's; the aforementioned game from January, a 99-96 double overtime game in February 2009 and the all time gem, a 95-88 triple overtime game in February 2005.
  2. JMU Star Transfer Part Deux - Matt Brady has lots of success with transfers.  First Denzel Bowles, now A.J. Davis. Davis, a transfer from Wyoming, is averaging 22 points per game. Hofstra's best player, Mike Moore will likely be responsible for guarding Davis.  Should be an interesting matchup.
  3. Rise and Fire - Two of the top three point field goal shooting teams in the CAA play today.  The Dukes hit as many three pointers, ten, as the Pride attempt in a game (sixty nine three point attempts in seven games).  James Madison leads the CAA, shooting nearly 47 percent from the field, while Hofstra is second at 43.5 percent.  The Dukes have four of the top ten three point percentage shooters in the Colonial; Davis at a ridiculous 59 percent, Humpty Hitchens at 51.7 percent , Andrey Semenov and Julius Wells.

    Mike Moore is third in the CAA in three point FG percentage, shooting 48.4 percent (15 of 31). But, as noted by John Templon earlier this week, Hofstra should try attempting more three point attempts.  In fact, the Pride are averaging seven less attempts per game than last season. Hofstra is actually very good at defending the three, allowing only 32 percent of three point field goals attempted.
  4. Charity Begins at the Line - As mentioned in my CAA Notes from earlier today, Hofstra is averaging twenty nine free throw attempts per game, more than double what Drexel averages per game.  The Pride have 204 free throw attempts.  Georgia State is next with 161 free throw attempts.  When you are hitting seventy percent of those attempts, you tend to stay in games.

    Meanwhile, James Madison is only ninth in the CAA in free throw attempts, with one hundred less attempts than Hofstra. This may be due in large part to their three point shooting prowess.  The advantage goes to Hofstra in this category.
  5. Paging Nathaniel Lester - In two games vs. LIU and Rhode Island, Lester scored a total of fifty five points.  In his other five games combined, Lester has scored a total of forty five points. Though he is averaging a respectable 14.3 points per game, he is struggling from the field, shooting 36 percent from the field and 21 percent from beyond the arc.  In fact, after going 3 of 4 from three against LIU, he has missed his last ten three point attempts.  Against Florida Atlantic and Boston University, in the two games combined, he only hit one field goal in twenty two attempts.  Simply put, Lester has to be more consistent.
  6. Ball Possession - James Madison is first in the CAA in assists, averaging 14.2 per game with Hitchens leading the CAA at 6.0 assists per game, as well as assists to turnovers per game at 2.1.  Hofstra's Dwan McMillan is third at 4.0 assists per game and fifth with .6 assists to turnovers per game.  The problem is Steve Mejia is the starting point guard for the Pride and he is not in the top fourteen in either category in the CAA.  In fact, Hofstra is tenth in the CAA in assists per game at 9.9.  Advantage James Madison.
  7. Pride Must Avoid a Shooting Drought - The Pride had two substantial leads in their games vs. Florida Atlantic and Boston University.  In both games, they went cold from the field in the second half and lost both games.  Against the Owls, after being up 36-27, the Pride shot 3 of 18 from the field over an eleven minute period in the second half.  Against the Terriers, after being up 52-45 with ten minutes left, the Pride shot 2 of 15 from the field for the rest of the game.  They can't afford that against the Dukes.
How willl this game turnout?   Well, using lines from TV shows and movies: 
  • If Hofstra Coach Mo Cassara yells "THEM DUKES! THEM DUKES!" like Boss Hogg from "The Dukes of Hazzard", it's a good day for James Madison.  
  • If  James Madison Coach Matt Brady yells "Come on Julius, get in front of the damn ball! Don't give me this "ol√©" bulls___" like Lou Brown from "Major League", then it's a good day for Hofstra.
Either way, expect a very close, high scoring game.  History often repeats itself in this series.

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