Monday, November 30, 2009

Bits and Bytes: Roy Williams will soon have to give a [hoot] about Hofstra!

Roy Williams is already fretting over the possibility of facing the Flying Dutchmen next November!

The turkey wasn’t even in the oven yet when it was time to look ahead to next Thanksgiving—or, more accurately, the weekend before next Thanksgiving, when the Flying Dutchmen will make it two straight prestigious preseason tournaments by participating in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Classic in San Juan.

The headline school in the eight-team field is North Carolina, which was my favorite college team before I came to my senses and arrived at Hofstra. As awesome as it was playing UConn this year, I think playing UNC might be even better. And don’t even get me going on the possibility—nay, the probability!—of the Dutchmen shocking the Tar Heels and Roy Williams ranting in the post-game press conference about how he doesn’t give a crap about the Pride vs. Flying Dutchmen debate.

A couple other quick bits and bytes while you polish off the remaining bits and bytes of the leftovers:

—A busy pre-Thanksgiving news week for the men’s basketball program, which announced the signings of small forward Marvin Dominique and highly touted Uniondale guard Devon McMillan to national letters of intent. Congrats to the two members of the Class of 2014 (good freaking God), and as always, don’t eat the Sbarro.

—Figure it’s about time I finally explain the 3 Stars of the Game concept. Even a non-puckhead like me recognizes it’s a hockey tradition, but I got the idea to bring it to the blog when a friend of mine from Boston, South Coast Today writer Jon Couture, used it as a daily—and, eventually, seasonal—measure of the Red Sox.

I loved the concept and was determined to shamelessly steal it for my own nefarious purposes, with one modification: He also dipped into negative stars, which was perfect there but which I will avoid here because these aren’t pros we're covering.

Hopefully the idea works as well here as it did at Jon’s blog. I’d recommend you check it out, but his newspaper’s blog network appears to be down. If you get a chance, though, check out his most recent column here.

—Some interesting discussion on the Any Given Saturday (I-AA football board) as well as the CAA Zone over whether Fordham or Stony Brook will replace Northeastern as the 12th football school in the CAA.

Of the two, Stony Brook would be a far better fit if the conference wants its football programs to be all-sports members (which is my hunch). Fordham is a better fit in terms of prestige, and the school wants to upgrade to full scholarship level in football even if it means bolting the Patriot League, but its men’s basketball program is in the midst of a two-decade funk, plays in a retro gym (and not the type of retro gym that inspires wordy prose) and would be a drain on the RPI.

I still think the CAA should hang tight at 11 teams for one season until Old Dominion joins in 2011 and then see if anyone steps aside before Georgia State joins in 2012. I would be surprised if Northeastern is the only school to pull its football program from the CAA.

—Should have mentioned this before Thanksgiving, but Tom Pecora deserves to be lauded for anticipating the clichéd lede from the writers sitting before him. I used to cover high school football in Connecticut, where most teams ended their regular seasons with a Thanksgiving morning game against their biggest rival.

Our paper covered two big rivalry games, and inevitably, someone—myself most certainly included—would take the bait and open his story with a turkey reference—i.e. “Joe Running Back’s turkey tasted a lot better last night after his 27-yard touchdown run with 20 seconds left gave Middle Of Nowhere High a 6-0 win over East Of Nowhere High.”

And so there I was last Tuesday night, old habits creeping up on me and filling my head with turkey-themed ledes, when Pecora closed his opening comments at his press conference by saying “…the turkey won’t taste as good.” I’m probably the only person in the room who thought that was awesomely ironic, but well, it was.

—Lastly, tonight’s game against Fairfield just gained a little bit of prestige with Mid-Majority declaring it the Game! Of! The! Night! So awesome. Check out Damon Lewis’ excellent and insightful preview here. I honestly don’t know how these guys develop such a mastery of 200-odd schools. I can barely do one and fake my way through another 11. Damon and Kyle deliver consistently fantastic work, and if you’ve got a few extra bucks laying around, please consider donating to the MM to ensure it can survive the season.

Here’s one really interesting thing to keep an eye on tonight: The performance of freshman Halil Kanacevic, who opened his career with a double-double at Kansas and was mighty impressive in the two NIT games in Connecticut. But Kanacevic’s numbers have dropped precipitously over the last three games—during which his points-rebounds have gone 8-7, 5-4 and 4-2—and I imagine he’s hitting the first of the rookie walls. I’ll bet the Thanksgiving break did wonders for him and will predict he places in the 3 Stars of the Game balloting.

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