Friday, February 26, 2010

Of Senior Day, streaks and the four for 10

Back in my day, Senior Day was called Completed Athletic Eligibility Day. And I played while tying an onion to my belt, which was the style of the time...

I was going to pick the Flying Dutchmen to win big against Georgia State tomorrow even before the snowstorm made getting here quite the hassle for the Panthers (the rumor earlier this afternoon was they would fly into Washington D.C. and then bus to Long Island if necessary) and even before crack basketball SID Jeremy Kniffin unearthed the factoid of the year regarding Hofstra and Senior Day.

According to Kniffin’s game notes, the Dutchmen have won their last 12 Senior Day games since a loss to Vermont on Feb. 25, 1996. I’m not saying that was a long time ago, but Cornelius Vines and Miklos Szabo were nine years old, the Dutchmen seniors were mostly Butch van Breda Kolff recruits and Jay Wright somehow forgot to put me into the game at the old Physical Fitness Center.

The Dutchmen are not unbeaten in the home finale over that span: Tom Pecora’s first team lost to Towson Feb. 25, 2002, but that squad had no seniors.

So yeah: Recent and ancient history alike suggests a resounding win for the Dutchmen, who can continue perhaps the greatest second half run in CAA history by beating the Panthers to finish 10-8 in the CAA after a 2-7 start.

Georgia State gave Old Dominion quite a scare in Atlanta on Tuesday, but the Panthers have lost their last seven CAA road games, their last nine road games overall and have never won in Hempstead. Plus, figure the Dutchmen’s five veterans will be eager to inflict some Senior Day damage upon Georgia State, which thrashed the Dutchmen 76-55 on its Senior Day a year and one day ago.

Look for Our Man Corny to continue his remarkable resurgence—I mean, honestly, has there ever been anyone better suited for the Senior Day stage than Vines?—while Greg Washington or Chaz Williams once again flirts with a triple-double and Charles Jenkins makes one last push for CAA Player of the Year with another 20-plus point effort.

You should be there, because any good sports fan should be a sucker for the pageantry and poignancy of Senior Day. But if you’re not at the Arena, follow along with me on Twitter, where I will try to come up with more Pecora-themed Airplane! references than Litos (whose game previews today are absolutely hilarious must-reads, here’s hoping he continues prognosticating even if he doesn’t end up as the head coach at UNCW).


A quick look at the games tomorrow involving the four teams vying for the eighth through 11th seeds tomorrow and a guess at who will end up facing the Dutchmen in the 7 vs. 10 game next Friday at 6 p.m.:

8) Georgia State (5-12). @Hofstra. Duh, you know what we’re picking there.

9) UNC Wilmington (5-12): W&M. A good friend of mine who—ahem—“dabbles” in gambling asked me, on a scale of 1 to 10, how much I liked Drexel against UNC Wilmington on Wednesday. “27,” I said. I know nothing. Drexel’s second-half fades are becoming pretty troublesome, but that was a nice win for a UNCW program that has really fallen on hard times. I don’t see history repeating itself Saturday, but who would have imagined William & Mary laying an egg against Towson with the chance to win the no. 2 seed at stake?

10) Towson (5-12): UD. Towson will honor its 1990 East Coast Conference championship team before the game as those of us old enough to remember when Towson and Delaware were Hofstra’s annual tormenters bellow about how our backs ache. Fun fact: If Towson wins, the Tigers will have gone 5-4 in the second half, making them just the third CAA team since 2001-02 to start 2-7 or worse and post a winning record in the second half. Does anyone know the second team to do so? Anyone?

11) James Madison (4-13): Drexel. Pegged this as an upset last week, and I’m not changing my tune now. JMU is going to be one scary team next year, or maybe even next week.

If everything goes like I predict (ha!), then Towson will be alone in eighth while Georgia State, UNC Wilmington and James Madison will tie for ninth. If that’s the case, Georgia State is the nine seed based on its 3-1 record against the other 5-13 teams, UNCW is 10th based on its 2-1 record and JMU is 11th based on its 0-3 record. Having spent all this time projecting this means it almost surely won’t happen, so just enjoy all the tiebreaking lunacy and stop back Monday as we begin our week-long preview of the CAA Tournament.

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