I’ve said it for a while, and I’ve never been as determined to see it happen as I am right now. Hofstra must raise a “122” banner at the Arena in honor of Jay Wright and the number of wins he recorded as Flying Dutchmen head coach.
Actually, make it 123, because none of the victories he recorded from 1994 through 2001 were as pivotal or meaningful as the one he recorded yesterday, when Wright scored a win for Hofstra fans everywhere as Villanova beat George Mason, 69-68.
No, you know what, check that. Name the whole damn Arena after him. Someday, the Flying Dutchmen can play on Tom Pecora Floor at Jay’s Gym.
I was implored by someone more mature than me (long list, that) to root for Mason for the betterment of the league. And now that there are no players left from the 2006 team, I’ll be the first to admit I shouldn’t punish these Patriots players for the transgressions of their predecessors. Plus, I’ve exchanged Tweets with Mason blogger Ryan Kish, who seems like a great guy. And he’s just hammering George Washington fans for trying to turn the Mason-GW game next month into some kind of blood feud, so I’m not sure I want to end up on his bad side.
But still…no. I can’t do it. Not as long as those two are still there. Speaking of them, it seems like Jim Larranaga didn’t cover himself in glory during the final minute yesterday as Mason blew a four-point lead. Can you smell the Schadenfreude from here?
Anyway, it’s very, very early, but both Hofstra and Mason have acquitted themselves quite well against Big East powers. So let me be the first to ponder it: Can you imagine if they’re the last two teams standing on the first Monday in March? I’m honestly not sure I can handle the stress of that—the payoff/punishment gap is too great to ponder. Oh but the payoff…
Still 107 days until we get there. In the meantime, here are a few Bits and Bytes you prepare for tonight’s home opener against Farmingdale:
—Kansas-Yale-UConn-Farmingdale. I don’t think anyone’s ever opened the season with that kind of RPI yo-yo. I’m sure Tom Pecora spent the last few days warning the Dutchmen not to overlook Farmingdale, which reached the Division III Elite Eight last year. The young Dutchmen looked pretty mature Tuesday, but today is a similarly pivotal test of where they are in their development. Beat Farmingdale soundly and it’ll be a good sign this squad has a finely honed focus. I’ll predict that things go well enough so that Matt Grogan becomes the first Dutchmen walk-on to score in almost four years.
—More on the uniqueness of the Dutchmen’s early season schedule: They are the only team in the country to have played two Top 25 teams…at least until this afternoon, when those bums from Mason play Georgia Tech. Damn you for stealing Hofstra’s thunder!
—Returning from a road trip to Kansas and UConn to host Farmingdale might make the home opener feel a bit anticlimactic, but I’m looking forward to it as much as ever. The home opener is kind of like the first day of school: You become re-acquainted with your surroundings, get to see the summertime improvements that were made, see who looks different in the fall than in the spring (where oh where have the cornrows gone, Life With Corny and Nathaniel Lester?), reconnect with your good friends and settle into a fun and familiar routine.
You also get to, if you’re me, beat up Sully Ray in the scrum for a free T-shirt. I don’t think I ever officially revealed last year’s standings, so let’s do it here, shall we:
Sully Ray 1
Score one for the doughy over the athletic!!
—Tonight’s game is free, a concept that still blows my freaking mind, so the perfect price coupled with the buzz surrounding the Dutchmen means there’s no excuse for the crowd to number less than 3,000. Doesn’t mean I expect the crowd to exceed 3,000, of course.
—Fun fact: Tonight is the Dutchmen’s first Friday home game of the Tom Pecora/CAA era. The America East used to regularly play a Friday-Sunday schedule and the 2000-01 Dutchmen recorded Friday home victories over New Hampshire, Northeastern and Vermont during the 18-game winning streak that finally ended against UCLA in the NCAA Tournament.
—I’ll once again be live Tweeting tonight’s game, so if you’re not following me yet, what are you waiting for?! Check out all the instant analysis at http://twitter.com/defiantlydutch. My guess is the recap will wait until Monday, because it’s been a long and hectic week here—I actually spent a day in Connecticut dealing with car trouble, hence the lack of a post Thursday—but who knows, I might bang something out late tonight. Regardless, be back here all next week for coverage of the Preseason NIT consolation games Monday and Tuesday.
—And next week, I swear, I’ll explain the 3 Stars concept…but in the meantime, I realize I forgot to unveil the 3 Stars Tuesday. So without further ado…
3 STARS OF THE GAME (vs. UConn 11/17)
3: Charles Jenkins
2: Cornelius Vines
1: Nathaniel Lester
Charles Jenkins 6
Nathaniel Lester 4
Halil Kanacevic 4
Cornelius Vines 2
Chaz Williams 2