Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Oh, relax kids, I’ve got a gut feeling this year’s Uter is around here somewhere

Adrian Uter transferred to Hofstra, Uter is a foreign exchange student from Germany at Springfield Elementary. Good enough for me!

First things first: Be patient and forgive me over the next few days if posts are brief and/or sporadic. The wife and I are traveling out-of-state on short notice today and I’m not sure if we’ll be able to listen to/watch the game tonight or how much time we’ll have to post over the next couple days. Hopefully everything returns to some semblance of normalcy soon and we can get back to giving the word count a good workout.

As for tonight against Drexel, Tom Pecora’s comments Monday about transfers Cornelius Vines, Tony Dennison and Miklos Szabo—“Your transition period is over”—reminded me of Bill Parcells’ famous saying about rookies and the increased expectations and responsibilities that will greet them in the NFL: “You’re not on scholarship anymore.”

Except, well, Vines, Dennison and Szabo are on scholarship. But Pecora’s sentiment is the same as the one espoused by Parcells: No more talk about inexperience, no more chalking up early season struggles to the adaptation process. The training wheels are off. You can’t run with the big dogs if you stay on the porch. Place your own cliché here, baby. (That is the most extreme of inside jokes, by the way)

As of the first tip in Philly, the regular season is more than halfway over (of course, with the Flying Dutchmen destined to win all three CAA tournament games and six NCAA Tournament games, the actual midway point of the season won’t arrive until a week from Saturday at James Madison). I imagine Pecora isn’t too displeased with Vines, who is one of only two players to start every game and whose non-stop motor and unflappability as a shooter are valuable traits.

But it’s time for Dennison and Szabo to begin chipping in like Pecora envisioned when he brought them to Hempstead—Szabo more so than Dennison, the latter of whom isn’t a pure point guard and isn’t shooting well enough to get more than a handful of minutes in relief. The Dutchmen, though, can really use Szabo to add to their front court depth, especially with Greg Washington slumping and Dane Johnson having played 30 minutes in a game just once.

When discussing the transfers last week, Pecora mentioned Adrian Uter—who, like Szabo and Dennison, transferred to Hofstra from Broward CC in Florida—as someone who experienced his share of initial struggles in moving from a JUCO to Division I. And Uter’s final stats in 2004-05 (6.2 points, 5.2 rebounds. 19.1 minutes per game) are quite comparable to Szabo’s stats through his first 14 games (3.9 points. 5.8 rebounds. 18.9 minutes per game). Szabo missed the Dutchmen’s first two games while serving an NCAA suspension for playing with professionals in his native Hungary.

There are also some notable similarities in how Uter and Szabo performed through 14 games. Each had had one double-double, two games in which they recorded 10 or more rebounds and four games in which they played 30 or more minutes.

But overall, Uter made a bigger and more immediate impact than Szabo. With Wendell Gibson missing the first half of the season recovering from knee surgery, Uter started 13 of the Dutchmen’s first 14 games, during which he averaged 7.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 25.2 minutes per game. Uter scored in double digits six times and pulled down seven or more rebounds six times.

Szabo has scored 10 or more points twice and had seven or more rebounds four times. In addition, his 30-minute performances, though, all occurred within his first five games.

Uter started the Dutchmen’s 15th, 16th and 17th games before giving way to Gibson, who started the final 13. Uter’s numbers over the final 16 games of the season dropped precipitously: He averaged 5.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and 13.9 minutes per contest over that span.

For the Dutchmen to end this season the same place they ended the 2004-05—or better—they’ll need Szabo to finish this season the way Uter began it four years ago. And there’s no better time than tonight for that emergence to begin (how’s that for a segue?).

Szabo is the pick to click and the guess here is Greg Johnson, who scored a career-high 15 points at Drexel 362 days ago, plays another 38 to 40 minutes and enjoys another impressive game at the point. Perhaps a few days away from the gym and a return to Philly and the scene of his most impressive game last season (21 points, seven rebounds and six steals) allows Charles Jenkins to further shake his slump.

Another interesting thing to watch: How many passes the Dutchmen make per possession now that Johnson is re-entrenched as the point guard. Jon Wagner, who is chronicling the Dutchmen and Jenkins in particular this season for the Queens Ledger, has been steadfast in his belief that the more the Dutchmen move the ball, the better the offense performs, as he notes in this very interesting post.

In addition, you’ve also got to figure a defense that has suffocated opposing guards during conference play won’t allow Scott Rodgers to go off like he did 11 days ago.

With sizzling Northeastern coming to Hempstead Saturday, this would be a fine time to steal a roadie. And a win in the not-so-cozy confines of the DAC would also line up with the trends in a series that summarizes the unpredictability of the CAA. The Dutchmen are just 2-6 at home against Drexel in the Pecora Era—pretty remarkable for a team that is 65-27 overall at the Arena in that span—but they’ve won three straight in Philly to lift their record at the DAC to 3-4.

The unexpected, after all, is expected. How’s that for a new twist on an old cliché?

Email Jerry at And join the Defiantly Dutch group at Facebook today!

No comments: