Friday, November 21, 2008

Just a little patience, yeah...

Axl Rose, so tired of waiting for the next Hofstra men's basketball game, finally decides to finish Chinese Democracy.

Our apologies (geez, that’s my second apology of the week, I’m already infinitely better than Vince Coleman) for being a bit sporadic with the posts this week. The eye of the storm has lulled us into a bit of a siesta. The eight days in between games for the Flying Dutchmen is the longest gap of the season...until, of course, they win the CAA’s automatic berth on March 9 and open the NCAA Tournament March 19 or 20. Oh yeah. I went there.

And I probably should have saved my watching-friends-rip-open-their-presents-on-Christmas-Eve analogy for this week, since everyone else in the CAA plays except Hofstra. In fact, there are more teams playing three times (James Madison, UNC-Wilmington, George Mason and Delaware) than teams only playing once (Northeastern, Towson and Old Dominion). So while fans of The Other Eleven get revved up about a spate of meaningful contests against nationally renowned opponents and Michael Litos makes a case for this as a season-defining weekend for the CAA, we get to pine for Monday and a game against a Division III foe and wonder why we can’t get a schedule like that.

But I’m not complaining. After watching Hofstra get hammered for the better part of two months last season, I’m willing to buy into the theory that going 8-3 or 9-2 and building confidence against a less-than-stellar non-conference slate is better than the Dutchmen absorbing multiple double-digit defeats against RPI-friendly competition. Plus, you know, we all learned in 2006 that it doesn’t really matter who you play out of conference. They’ll find a way to screw you anyway.

That said, next Saturday—and the first of five games in a 14-day span—can’t get here fast enough. I mean, for crying out loud, Guns n’ Roses will have released an album by the next time Hofstra plays.

Some other bits and bytes before the weekend:

—Prep for the Old Westbury game with Jeremy Kniffin’s excellent pre-game notes package.

—Forwards Paul Bilbo and David Imes and guards Yves Jules and Chaz Williams have long been discussed on the CAAZone message boards, and the quartet officially signed letters of intent Thursday to attend Hofstra next fall and play for the Flying Dutchmen. I’m not nearly tuned in enough to the high school scene around here to project how they’ll fare and I try to view recruiting classes with caution since can’t-miss recruiting classes almost always have multiple misses. Not a knock on the recruits, of course, just a fact of life in an unpredictable sport.

That said, congrats to the foursome. And whatever you guys do, don’t eat the Sbarro.

—Here’s an interesting story on Williams’ often-difficult path to Hofstra.

—The Flying Dutchwomen volleyball team pursues the seventh NCAA Tournament bid in program history when it participates in the CAA tourney this weekend at Northeastern. The Dutchwomen open with William & Mary, whom they defeated at Hofstra last Saturday, and would advance with a win to face top-seeded Northeastern in the semis Sunday. The championship match is Monday. The Dutchwomen won the CAA in 2006 and lost to Delaware in the final last year.

—Belated kudos, part I: With 19 freshmen or sophomores on the 25-man roster, even the most optimistic Hofstra wrestling fan had to foresee a rebuilding year and the likely end to the Flying Dutchmen’s streak of seven straight conference titles and 57 straight victories in conference play. Maybe not. The Dutchmen shocked seventh-ranked Penn State last Sunday, 18-15, and have moved into the national top 20 at 16. The wrestlers get another big test this weekend, when they face fifth-ranked Missouri Saturday before participating in the Missouri Open Sunday.

—Belated kudos, part II: The Flying Dutchmen football team finally told Seth Meyers where to cram it last Saturday with a thorough 42-14 win over Northeastern in front of friends, family and Sully Ray at Shuart Stadium. In fact, I think the presence of Sully Ray—who made his first appearance of the season but did not catch a T-shirt; too bad, there was no one within eight rows of us—was just what the Dutchmen needed to end that worst season ever talk. Nice of you to show up when it was needed, Sully. Sheesh.

It’s clear the season-ending back injury Bryan Savage suffered moments before kickoff at UConn nearly three months ago was a sign of things to come for the Dutchmen, who lost 11 players to season-ending injuries and never built any momentum on or off the field. Perfect weather and impressive crowds greeted the Dutchmen for games against Albany and Rhode Island in September, but any playoff hopes were extinguished during the four-game presidential debate road trip and three straight home games in monsoon-like conditions didn’t do much to lure anyone but the hardiest of the diehards. The combined attendance against Delaware, Richmond and Northeastern was 7,004—not much more than the Dutchmen drew against Rhode Island (6,111).

The Dutchmen close out the season Saturday against UMass, which was ranked in the top 15 as recently as two weeks ago but whose playoff aspirations disappeared with consecutive losses to Maine and New Hampshire. Not much to be gained on either side except experience, but 5-7 sure looks better than 4-8 and a win against UMass would allow Hofstra to finish third in the CAA North. Not much, but it’s something—and third place is where the Dutchmen were predicted to finish in August.

So let’s say Hofstra 26, UMass 20 in overtime. The game will be carried on YES at 2 p.m. No idea, though, if it’s followed by Dutchography: Carlos Garay.

Email Jerry at

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