Monday, June 28, 2010

Bits and Bytes: Of Coach C, Stevie B, Ethan P and would could have been for football in the NEC

Thanks to Mo Cassara's Tweets, Stevie B. is bigger than ever 20 years after his biggest hit!

Time flies when things are blissfully, wonderfully, abnormally normal. Why, we’re a mere three days away from Hofstra going an entire month without changing men’s basketball coaches! Alas, when it comes to players officially leaving the program, we’ll have to wait until July for a fresh start there.

June has come and almost gone and I’ve taken advantage of the relative quiet the last few weeks to put in some work at the paying job and prepare some summertime features that I’ll debut in the middle of July, after the wife and I return from vacation next week. But we’ll catch up on the bits and bytes of the last few weeks today and hopefully have a couple other interesting features for you this week before heading for some tropical goodness.

—According to the Twitters, the incoming freshmen basketball players at Hofstra moved in yesterday, just in time for the start of Summer Session II. Welcome guys. And stay awhile. No seriously. Please. For the love of all that is holy, stay awhile.

—Speaking of Twitter, if you’re on it and not following Mo Cassara (@Coach_Cassara), you’re doing yourself a disservice. It’s not everyday you find a men’s basketball coach with impeccable knowledge of and taste in late ‘80s dance pop. Stevie B, if you’re Googling yourself and stumble across this, I think there’s a post-game concert in your future!

Plus, it’s always nice to see a coach mature enough to handle a Twitter account. No names, of course!

—Speaking of Cassara, here’s a nice article about his ascension to the top job from his local paper in Watertown, NY. Included in the story is the news that the Flying Dutchmen will open next season by playing North Carolina in the Puerto Rico Classic. Prepare for the full fury of Dutch Nation (snort), UNC!

—Belated congratulations to Ethan Paquette, the former Flying Dutchmen first baseman who was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 35th round of this month’s draft and assigned to Pulaski (VA), the organization’s short-season affiliate in the Appalachian League. Paquette started five of the Mariners’ first six games at first base and went 2-for-2 off the bench Sunday. He’s hitting .263 (5-for-19) with three RBI, three runs scored and three errors.

Paquette is the third Hofstra player to be drafted in the last 25 years, following in the footsteps of Defiantly Dutch-era third baseman Mike Miller (Tigers in 1995) and third baseman Ricky Caputo (Nationals in 2006). Hofstra seemed to have a good shot at having two players drafted, but surprisingly, infielder Matt Prokopowicz—who finished his collegiate career with a .376 average and set the school record for hits in a season and a career—went undrafted and doesn’t appear to have signed as a free agent. Hopefully he gets a shot somewhere, even if it’s in an independent league.

—The last few days have been full of equal parts validation and frustration for those of us who think there were a billion better solutions to the football problem at Hofstra than executing a 75-year-old program. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Sunday that Rhode Island, which is now clearly the weak link in the CAA with Hofstra and Northeastern gone, may look to move to the Northeast Conference—where the maximum number of scholarships a program can offer is 40, down from the 63 in the CAA—for the 2012 season.

The NEC will have an automatic bid to the Division I-AA tournament beginning this season, so teams competing there can pursue the same prize as anyone else. Of course, that prize doesn’t matter, since there’s little press coverage of it. Shhh, don’t tell Villanova its championship doesn’t count.

The Boston Globe also reported Sunday that UMass and New Hampshire will play two games—one this season and one in 2011—at the New England Patriots’ stadium (as usual, if the sponsor of the stadium wants its name mentioned, it can cut me a check). Whoa, what a concept. Division I-AA football programs getting exposure and publicity. Too bad there’s not a professional football stadium around here that could have hosted a Flying Dutchmen football game.

—Finally, Shuart Stadium last Tuesday night hosted the annual “Boomer Bowl”—the all-star football game between Long Island high school seniors and seniors from the five boroughs—and the New York Post’s Marc Raimondi wrote a good piece on how the Stadium won’t hear cheers for football this fall and how the disbanding of the program leaves a giant void in the prep football scene.

There was so much more that could have been done, first to preserve the program as it was and then to find a way to reduce the investment in the program yet continue competing. But, as Jim Munson—the head coach at Tottenville and the defensive coordinator for the New York City team—so eloquently put it, there’s not a damn thing anyone could have done to save a program that was doomed as far back as 2001.

“We can’t control the politics of this university and what this president wants to do,” he said.

Email Jerry at or follow Defiantly Dutch at

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