Wednesday, March 31, 2010

CBI Craziness Standings: Semifinals!


And you thought best-of-three basketball series ceased to exist in the early 1980s!

Gotta admit: When I warned I might not have the updated standings for CBI Craziness immediately after the semifinals, I didn’t think I’d be this lax, even accounting for the zaniness that would accompany Tom Pecora heading to Fordham. But here it is, Wednesday night and VCU already leads Saint Louis, 1-0, in the best-of-three CBI championship series (still weird. Not only that, but the second game is likely deep into the second half as I type this.

So enough yakkety yak, Long story short is if VCU wins, VCU Pavarotti wins. If Saint Louis wins, somehow, I win, despite riding Hofstra all the way to the finals. Go figure. That would suck, since the awesomeness of my prize would be lost on me. Alas, it would also be lost on fellow Flying Dutchmen fan Gary Moore, who also has Saint Louis and is just behind me. So basically, root for VCU, which you should do anyway since 11 out of 12 CAA teams are worth supporting in the postseason.

Here are the standings. Those of us with the champion still alive have the pick in parenthesis. Go Rams (who, by the time you read this, will have probably either clinched the CBI or will be preparing for the winner-take-all third game). If the series ends tonight, I’ll have a congratulatory message for VCU Pavarotti tomorrow. If not, I won’t. Simple huh?

CBI CRAZINESS SEMIFINAL STANDINGS
VCU Pavarotti 19 (VCU)

Jerry Beach 17 (StL)
Robert Simkins 17

Gary Moore 16 (StL)
John Templon 16 (VCU)

Todd Golden 14 (StL)

Craig Smith 12 (VCU)
Rob White 12 (VCU)
Jim Waltman 12

Thad Brown 11 (StL)

Mike Brodsky 10 (StL)
Michelle Beach 10
Mike Smith 10
Mike Hadley 10

Alisha Hord 9 (StL)
David Kaye 9

Sully Ray 8 (VCU)

Steve Bittenbender 7
Tim Russell 7
Elise Russell-Manicke 7
Lee Warner 7

Matt Edwards 5

Enoram 4
Tony Sibilla 4
Mike Stein 4

Josh Claywell 3

Email Jerry at defiantlydutch@yahoo.com or follow Defiantly Dutch at http://twitter.com/defiantlydutch. 

Welsh is the answer, but the questions are just beginning

Will the foundation of his new house be in place for Tim Welsh, or will he face unexpected structural issues over the next five years?

It’s officially official: Hofstra issued a press release announcing a press conference for tomorrow at 11 a.m. introducing Tim Welsh as the Flying Dutchmen’s new head basketball coach. But since it’s April 1, I can still hold out hope that Tom Pecora is going to step out from behind the curtain to the sound of thunderous applause and the thud of one guy fainting with joy, right?

While my first choice would have been Van Macon—mostly because of the stability and continuity he would have represented as well as the belief he has earned this opportunity, partially because it would have been cool if this hire was part of the Jay Wright tree—I can’t argue too much with hiring of Welsh, who has agreed to a five-year deal worth a reported $3 million (more on that eye-popping figure in a bit).

Welsh led Iona to one NCAA Tournament and two NITs in three years in New Rochelle and recruited the players that went to the NCAA under Jeff Ruland in 2000 and 2001. Welsh then spent 10 years at Providence, where he reached the NCAA Tournament twice and the NIT three times while compiling a 160-142 record. He was fired following the 2008 season and Providence attempted to replace him with, we kid you not, beloved George Mason coach Jim Larranaga.

Speaking of Larranaga: In a remarkable bit of coincidence, he just signed another contract extension today. Nope, not trying to remind everyone who he almost succeeded, or who the big dog is in the CAA, not at all. Maybe Mason is just going to ink Larranaga to an extension every time he has to suspend a player, in which case he’ll coach long enough to become the Connie Mack of the CAA.

Anyway, landing Welsh—who should be familiar to the local high school and AAU coaches and shouldn’t need much of a reintroduction to the scene—in such swift fashion is a feather in the cap of athletic director Jack Hayes. This was the first high-profile coaching search conducted by Hayes, and his ability to file through his rolodex (Hayes graduated from Providence and worked at Big East rivals UConn and St. John’s), quickly close a deal while multiple other local schools are all seeking coaches and get the approval—financial and otherwise—of Hofstra president Stuart Rabinowitz was impressive.

This is a potentially perfect fit for Welsh, who heads into what very well could be his legacy job (yes, I am overusing that term this year, sue me). Hofstra is a great spot for someone who still has the hunger but no longer wants to deal with the constant pressure and scrutiny of a BCS gig.

Welsh could be Hofstra’s version of American’s Jeff Jones—someone who was once the hip and hot coach at a big six school but who, after being discarded despite a successful track record, is content to finish his career at a lower profile school where he is appreciated and expectations are more reasonable.

Hofstra has had just three coaches in the last 20 years. Coaches don’t work under a great deal of pressure here. Just remain competitive (the second Butch van Breda Kolff era gets a bad rap because of the rough final two seasons in which the Dutchmen had no real conference affiliation, but he was eight games over .500 with a regular season ECC championship in his first four seasons), play by the rules, play well with others and you can stay as long as you want—even now, with Hofstra making a historic commitment to men’s basketball.

For that, Rabinowitz—the target of this morning’s blog—should be commended, albeit in measured, reserved and skeptical tones.

Some people will wonder if I’m just being cynical and contrarian just for the sake of being skeptical and contrarian. Who, me? Never! But as impressed as I am with the lucrative contract awarded to Welsh, I’m also wondering if the deal is more reactive than proactive—instinctual jabs aimed at Pecora for bolting for a lesser program for a lot more money as well as those who have criticized Hofstra’s since it extinguished football.

Giving Welsh $600,000—a 50 percent raise over what Pecora made in his most lucrative year—allows Hayes and Rabinowitz to effectively end any conversation about the future of Hofstra athletics. It also indicates the school thinks far higher of Welsh than it ever did of Pecora. And if you happen to think Pecora is really greedy and foolish because he ended up at a 2-26 school that only pays him $50,000 more than Hofstra is paying his replacement, well, my guess is Hofstra wouldn’t mind that at all.

But it must be asked: Why wasn’t Hofstra willing to pay its head men’s basketball coach $600,000 last week? If Hofstra is going to offer $600,000 to a coach, shouldn’t it reward the guy who turned this INTO a $600,000 a year job? Most importantly, after giving the head coach a dramatic raise, is Hofstra ready to make a commensurate re-investment in the program? If Hofstra is spending almost as much on its head coach as Fordham, is it ready to spend almost as much on the entire program as Fordham?

Yes, I know, Pecora never led Hofstra to the NCAA Tournament, and I understand it would have been difficult to spin a 50 percent raise for Pecora after nine straight years without a conference championship. But c’mon. This is Hofstra, where nobody ever knows about a “two-year study” to determine the future of the football program. If the school wanted to hike Pecora’s salary and redouble its investment in men’s basketball, it could have very easily done so behind the scenes.

And if Pecora thought Hofstra would be, at some point soon, ready to make a Fordham-type investment in men’s basketball, would he really have left a nice situation for a monstrous rebuilding job?

Maybe this was the plan all along once football disappeared and as simple as Hofstra doing what Kyle Whelliston says all non-football schools should do: Allocate more resources to men’s basketball than any other sport.

And hey, maybe Pecora was gone no matter what. Maybe he had stars in his eyes and didn’t want to wait any longer for the A-10 to invite Hofstra, or for Hofstra to join an entirely new conference that is on par with the A-10. Maybe he wanted the royal welcome he got at Fordham. Maybe he likes maroon. Maybe it was just time for a divorce. Pecora was inherited by both Rabinowitz and Hayes. Maybe they were saving the big payday for their guy.

But still, today, this feels a lot like the Mets responding to the criticism generated by the 2002 firing of Bobby Valentine by overpaying for Art Howe. After signing Howe to a four-year, $9 million contract—a longer and more lucrative deal than Valentine ever had—the Mets spun a yarn about how they got a guy who “lit up the room” during his interview. No offense to Howe, one of the nicest men to ever occupy a manager’s office, but the night light in a bathroom has more wattage than Howe.

That is not to compare Welsh to Howe, AT ALL, or to declare Welsh will be a disastrous hiring. Just saying it feels like Hofstra is consumed with winning the press conference and quieting critics.

Paying a head coach a sky-high salary is the equivalent of slapping some sharp-looking siding on a house. It’s no good unless the foundation is in place. Is Hofstra willing to make the investment necessary to make this hire worth it? The school will win the press conference tomorrow, no doubt about that. But is it ready to win the next 1,826 days, as well?

Email Jerry at defiantlydutch@yahoo.com or follow Defiantly Dutch at http://twitter.com/defiantlydutch.

What kind of message will Rabinowitz send with Pecora’s replacement?

Is the sun finally ready to shine through over Hofstra athletics, or are the storm clouds just beginning to gather?

One of the bleakest days in the history of Hofstra athletics wasn’t without a shred of optimism.

“The last thing I want to say to you is that this in no way diminishes the fact that we believe a robust athletic program is extremely important to Hofstra University,” Hofstra president Stuart Rabinowitz said as he announced his decision to eliminate football Dec. 3. “In fact, we want to play at the highest national level. So we are keeping and have no plans to drop any other sports. We are keeping our 17 teams which don’t play in a low Division I-A, as football does.”

Nothing would ever make up for the clandestine way football was executed after a “two-year study,” especially for the hundreds of alumni who donned the helmets and shoulder pads for the Flying Dutchmen. But the truth was that through nearly a decade of organized organizational neglect, football had become a shell of its former self at Hofstra. As much as we’d rather see non-scholarship football at Hofstra than nothing at all, if dropping the sport encouraged Hofstra to concentrate its resources and attention on other sports, well, at least we wouldn’t have to worry about those other sports ever suffering a similar fate.

This was the belief I parroted for months, even as other observers of the Flying Dutchmen warned the death of football was just the first domino to fall in the demise of Hofstra sports. I shrugged off the Tom Pecora to Fordham rumors, feeling confident that men’s basketball was now the centerpiece sport at Hofstra and reminding myself that Rabinowitz expressed his high hopes and expectations for the program by declaring “George Mason should have been us” in 2006.

With that kind of support, why would Pecora—who often spoke of how it would take a unique opportunity for him to consider leaving Hofstra—bolt an imperfect yet reasonably thriving program he’d spent 16 years building for the mother of all rebuilding jobs in the Bronx? Except the whispers got louder and louder, peaking, of course, last week, when Pecora met with Fordham officials and agreed to a six-year contract with the school in a whirlwind 24-hour span.

Now, with Pecora plying his trade in the shadow of the Bronx Zoo, I’m no longer sure that those who were the loudest and angriest following the execution of football were so crazy after all. If I’m not ducking for cover from a falling sky, I am gazing tentatively upward, wondering what’s next.

The only person who can soothe the nerves of the Flying Dutchmen faithful—all seven of us!—is the same person who uttered the words that had us optimistic that the death of football was an isolated thing and not the beginning of the end of athletics as we know them at Hofstra.

Rabinowitz can let his athletic director do his job, and approve whomever Jack Hayes recommends as Pecora’s replacement, and sit in between Hayes and the new coach at a press conference and declare that this hire—whether it’s an established Division I coach, a highly touted assistant from a BCS conference or a hot up-and-comer in the Jay Wright vein—is proof Hofstra is not beginning its descent to the fringe of Division I, where it resided before Wright took over, or worse.

Because right now, it’s hard to believe Pecora's departure wasn't a link in a chain of events that began with the execution of football.

Hey, maybe it’s just a coincidence. Maybe this was a matter of perfect timing, of Pecora growing increasingly frustrated with the CAA and getting an offer he couldn’t refuse to go join the Atlantic 10, the conference he has long believed is the perfect home for Hofstra. Pecora will pull down a reported $650,000 a year at Fordham, a salary that is well beyond the means of a program that plays in obscurity. Maybe, as I wrote last week, this was destined to happen—Pecora parlaying his success at Hofstra into a higher-profile opportunity.

Or maybe Pecora knew something we don’t, knew that the events of Dec. 3 doomed Hofstra to an indefinite stay in conference purgatory. Dropping football ruined any negotiating power the school possessed. With football in the fold, Hofstra would have looked like a better fit with the CAA—nowhere near perfect, but at least still a school with similar aspirations as the league in which it resides—as it tried to negotiate its way into the A-10 or maybe even the MAAC via backroom dealings.

But getting rid of football declared, in very public and irreversible fashion, "GET US OUT OF HERE!!" And no conference is going to rush to make room for a school that is so desperate to leave its current league—especially the A-10, which has seven schools playing or planning to play I-AA football and another, Temple, in I-A.

If more than half the league can play football, why can’t Hofstra? Even if there was a vacancy and/or the A-10 was willing to expand, why would it rush to invite a school that isn’t wholly committed to all sports?

And, honestly, don’t you think it’s just a little too convenient that Fordham fired Dereck Whittenberg mere hours after Hofstra dropped football? Perhaps Fordham was sending Pecora a message that afternoon. And maybe, 112 days later, Pecora was sending a message to his former employer when he said that the job of the men’s basketball team and the athletic department is “…to be the front porch of the university.”

Rabinowitz’ actions, almost from the day he arrived in 2001, indicate he considers athletics the back yard trees, or maybe even the fort behind the trees, of the university. He’s never gone to the CAA tournament in Richmond, not even when the Flying Dutchmen made the championship game in 2006. He rarely appears at the Arena, and when he does, it’s usually for some kind of grip-and-grin ceremony before the game or at halftime. Nor, reportedly, did he show up to either of the last two open Pride Club meetings.

Rabinowitz fancies Hofstra as a premier academic institution, which is pretty funny to those of us who have actually attended class there. To paraphrase Winston Wolf from Pulp Fiction: “Just because you charge like you are Yale doesn’t mean you are Yale.”

There are those on campus who think the only sport Rabinowitz really likes is lacrosse, which fits in with the elitist air he tries to project, and that every other sport is flotsam and/or jetsam. There are also people who are authentically worried about the long-term future of ALL sports at the University. Nothing even close to imminent, mind you, but there are perfectly lucid folks in the 11550 who wonder if there will come a day when Hofstra either de-emphasizes athletics or drops them entirely.

Sounds inconceivable, doesn’t it? But at some point in the last year, so did the idea that football would no longer be played at Hofstra and that Pecora would leave the Flying Dutchmen for a program that went 2-26 this season and has recorded one winning record in the last 15 years.

We’ll get a good idea of where Hofstra is headed as an athletic department with this hire. And the rumors of an imminent agreement between Hofstra and former Iona and Providence coach Tim Welsh are an encouraging sign. While I think Pecora’s longtime top assistant, Van Macon, should get a shot at the top job, Welsh would bring to the sidelines plenty of credibility as well as an experienced tri-state recruiter.

But you’ll have to pardon me if I’m not jump-starting the welcome wagon quite yet. While I have plenty of faith in Hayes’ ability to find a good replacement for Pecora, I’m also quite curious to see what happens when he goes to the office of the president for final approval. After all, Hayes ended up at Hofstra only after Rabinowitz declined the choice of the search committee he hired to find a new athletic director in 2004.

And we won’t really know if the commitment to men’s basketball was the same post-Pecora as it was pre-Pecora for years. Don’t forget Rabinowitz spoke of winning national championships in I-AA when Dave Cohen was hired to replace Joe Gardi following the 2005 season.

It’ll take a while to know if this next hire was the next step in maintaining and building what Wright and Pecora constructed, or a cosmetic move intended to delay or hasten the inevitable. But in the meantime, Rabinowitz can make us feel a whole lot better about the future by getting out of the way and allowing Hayes to do his job—and then by exiting his ivory tower and showing up for the press conference.

Email Jerry at defiantlydutch@yahoo.com or follow Defiantly Dutch at http://twitter.com/defiantlydutch.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

For Pecora, the goodbyes are as familiar as the hellos

TP says goodbye, TP says hello.

Tom Pecora’s last day at Hofstra was a lot like his first. There were movements shrouded in secrecy, and usually loose lips sealed tight, as the school tried to keep some explosive news under wraps.

The difference, of course, was this time Pecora was walking into the University Club Wednesday night to say goodbye instead of hello, unlike the sun-splashed Thursday morning he and Jay Wright were introduced Apr. 14, 1994. There were also two schools trying to keep a lid on a pot of boiling hot news, and mostly failing thanks to the instant news cycle that didn’t exist back when Al Gore had just invented the Internet.

It can’t be a coincidence that Pecora and his wife, Mary Beth, walked into the University Club for the men’s basketball banquet at 6:19, a mere eight minutes after Fordham sent out an email announcing the Thursday afternoon press conference introducing Pecora as its new head coach. The end was here for Pecora, and unlike at the beginning, there was no pomp and circumstance—no television cameras, no overflow crowd squeezing into the U-Club, no school president beaming at the front of the room.

Yet what could have been an awkward and somber evening instead turned equal parts frank, festive and familial, an appropriate coda to a remarkable 16-year run and, particularly, a season that defined a man and his tenure as head coach.

The Dutchmen’s season was much more compelling than their 19-15 record would indicate, with the high hopes of November and a red-hot stretch run in February bookending a brutal stretch in which they seemed ready to fall apart.

At the banquet, Pecora lauded seniors Miklos Szabo and Cornelius Vines—both of whom lost their starting jobs earlier in the season and spent much of the year in Pecora’s doghouse—for not quitting on the team, even though the end of their careers were on the horizon and there didn’t seem to be much chance of turning their senior seasons around.

Yet Pecora, even more so than Szabo or Vines, could have just as easily mailed in the rest of the season once the Dutchmen suffered that five-game losing streak in January to fall to 9-12. Given the swiftness with which Fordham hired Pecora—and the fact the school didn’t interview any other outside candidates, not even Fordham alum and red-hot Robert Morris coach Mike Rice—it’s na├»ve to think Pecora didn’t have an inkling for weeks or months that a job offer from the Rams could be forthcoming.

The Dutchmen finishing the season on a 10-3 tear sure didn’t hurt Pecora’s career. But, again, Fordham was so high on Pecora that he’d probably be in the Bronx right now as long as he didn’t steer the 2009-10 Dutchmen into an iceberg. Finishing 15-18 would have been enough to punch his ticket to the Atlantic 10.

He worked with Szabo and Vines to salvage their seasons, even though it would have been easy to bench them in favor of freshmen and spin the Dutchmen’s poor finish as a matter of looking towards the future. He rebuilt the psyche of a shattered team and coaxed out of it an unprecedented second half run. He fought, angrily and passionately, on behalf of Brad Kelleher.

“We always said ‘Just give yourself up to the program and believe that we’re going to do everything right for you,’” Pecora said after the Senior Day win over Georgia State.

Even in the waning hours of his tenure, Pecora was still doing right by the Dutchmen and providing his players the type of commitment and investment he asked of them. After meeting with Fordham officials and accepting the job offer Wednesday afternoon, Pecora called Hofstra athletic director Jack Hayes.

“I said ‘Jack, I can’t do it,’ and he knew I didn’t mean the banquet,” Pecora said at Fordham Thursday. “I couldn’t go in and lie to them and say nothing’s happened yet and then bring them into an 8 o’clock meeting [Thursday]. I’ve never lied to them before. One of the expressions I use all the time [is] ‘The greatest gift I can give you is the truth.’

“We talk all the time about the responsibilities that come with being a legitimate man, being an adult. And I had to make some hard decision, but for me and my family at this time, it was a no-brainer, and for that reason I was moving on. We all embraced, we went over and we had a pretty nice banquet.”

The banquet served as a testament to the bonds created by the program. Pecora often spoke of how Hofstra basketball is a family. Such quotes make for great sound bites, and supporting images are easy to produce when there are thousands (OK, fine, hundreds) of people watching.

The truth is revealed when only a few dozen people are watching, like Wednesday, when those in attendance at the University Club heard Pecora relate his morning conversations with Terry Ryan, the director of the Hofstra summer basketball camps. Actually, these weren’t conversations at all: Ryan would walk into Pecora’s office upon arriving on campus, sit down, have a cup of coffee, never exchange a word with Pecora, get up and leave. Yet it would still be, for Pecora, his most productive and enjoyable meeting of the day.

Pecora also spoke of long-time basketball secretary Clarice Smith, who seemed to be laughing through the tears as Pecora told of how Smith could, with a single withering look or a stern word, bring to a screeching halt the office shenanigans of the coaching staff.

The true feelings between players and coaches—and teammates—were obvious, as well, in the sound of David Duke’s voice cracking just a bit as the assistant coach presented the Butch van Breda Kolff award for team play to Kelleher and the sight of the Dutchmen rising and giving Kelleher a standing ovation.

And at the end of the night, when Pecora broke down in tears in delivering his closing comments, the first player to step forward and hug the coach was Our Man Corny.

As inspiring as Wednesday night was, it’s still weird, and a little bit of a bummer, to see the words “Ex-Hofstra coach Pecora” in a headline. The idea of walking into the Arena and not seeing Pecora will take some getting used to. He was on the sidelines through 16 years and two buildings and served as the head coach here for nine seasons, one year shy of tying Paul Lynner—whom he surpassed on the all-time win list in February—for the longest continuous tenure at the helm. I’ll always wish he could have achieved his goal of reaching the NCAA Tournament with the Dutchmen, and that he could have been to Hofstra what his mentor Bob McKillop is to Davidson.

Yet maybe it SHOULD be this way. There was something inspiringly cyclical about what happened Wednesday and Thursday—the penning of a new chapter equal parts familiar and unknown and the next step in timeless evolutionary process that began 16 years earlier.

This is what coaches do: They proceed from hip, hot young assistant coaches to hip, hot head coaches to experienced mainstays who move on to bigger and more visible jobs. Along the way, they develop the next generation of hip, hot young assistants and prepare them for the opportunity to take over a program.

There was something natural about Wright leaving for Villanova on March 27, 2001 and Pecora becoming the Hofstra head coach the next day. The Wright coaching tree is one of the most fruitful in college basketball and Pecora’s tree has branches, too, with Tom Parrotta at Canisius.

And now Pecora moves on to Fordham, where he got the type of reception at a packed Duane Library that Wright received at the University Club a mere 5,823 days earlier. When Wright was hired, then-Hofstra president James Shuart spoke of how he expected the school to win in the North Atlantic Conference, which accepted it as a member the same day Wright was hired. On Thursday, Fordham president Father Joseph McShane said he looked forward to Pecora lifting the Rams “…to frightening glory—and I do mean frightening.”

Pecora called Fordham a “sleeping giant,” the exact phrase Wright used to describe Hofstra in 1994. Like Wright, Pecora immediately put on the charm with reporters—especially the ones from the student newspaper, from whom he promptly requested help and assistance.

“You guys gonna get students to the games this year?” Pecora said. “Tell me what dorms I have to visit.”

At 3 p.m., two hours after the press conference began, Pecora finally exited Duane Library, surrounded by family and Fordham staffers. Pecora was headed to a meeting with his new players, where he’d begin the process of building a foundation and relationships and delivering his core messages to a new audience. But I imagine, as the sights and sounds of a college campus filled the air—with students sunning themselves on an expansive green lawn and the ping of aluminum bats in the distance—it all felt invigoratingly familiar to Pecora.

Email Jerry at defiantlydutch@yahoo.com or follow Defiantly Dutch at http://twitter.com/defiantlydutch.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

In which I commit a public service by reminding America what Mike Francesa said about Cornell in December

Cornell became a national power while Mike Francesa wasn't paying attention.

With Cornell playing Kentucky tonight, I intended to post this earlier in the week, but, well, stuff was crazy. Actually, I meant to post this the morning of Dec. 3, but then Hofstra killed football and that was that for the next five days.

And while not posting my running commentary of Tom Pecora’s appearance with Mike Francesa the day before didn’t suck as much as the death of football—I was literally about to hit post when I got the phone call from Sully Ray letting me know the football press conference was taking place in 25 minutes—I am bummed it didn’t see the light of day, because nothing is more fun than running Mike Francesa commentary. So much hypocrisy and arrogance, so little time.

Francesa, like usual, barely let Pecora get a word in edgewise and made it all about him and exposing his knowledge, or lack thereof, about, well, anything. Finally given a rare chance to speak, Pecora plugged the upcoming Holiday Festival, which in turn allowed Francesa to dismiss Cornell as a nothing program. Of course he wasn’t saying that this week, was he?

I’m going to miss having an excuse to post Francesa running commentaries. Damnit. Better get cracking on that Fordham blog. Anyway, here you go. Enjoy!

Francesa: “Who do you play Monday night?”

Pecora: “Davidson or Cornell.”

Francesa: “I’m sure it’ll be Davidson. I can’t see Cornell having a team. They never have a team.”

Cornell won last night, 104-98, over Bucknell.

Pecora: “They went to the NCAA Tournament the last two years.”

Francesa: “Yeah but they’re Cornell. I mean, c’mon.”

Pecora: “Boy you are something else.”

Of course, who ended up winning the Holiday Festival (by beating Francesa’s beloved St. John’s Red Storm in the championship game)? Cornell.

Anyway, share this with all your friends! And if you’re really brave, call in tomorrow and remind Francesa of his words. It’s always fun to get a phone slammed in your ear on live radio!

Email Jerry at defiantlydutch@yahoo.com or follow Defiantly Dutch at http://twitter.com/defiantlydutch.

Hey is RefreshinglyRamtastic.blogspot.com available?

Heading to the Tom Pecora press conference at Fordham now. Check my Twitter for updates all day and stop back here later in the afternoon for coverage of the presser as well as to see how I deal with the third and fourth stages of grief!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

There's still time for Tom to have a Jim Walsh moment at his going-away party tonight!


Which mushy moment should I use to try to get Pecora to stay?

"I'd even let you share my clothes, if it meant that you would stay."

"You Pecora people are the only family I got."

Tom, take notes on what Jim says beginning at the 3:30 mark! (Also, disregard the whole pregnancy scare thing. That has nothing to do with tonight.)

In which my neighbors try calming me down following the Pecora-to-Fordham news

Today's musical interlude!


Multiple outlets reporting Pecora to Fordham is all but a done deal. If you need me, I'll be in the corner at Fezziwig's nursing a warm, watered-down "beer."

Daily News: Fordham to meet with Pecora & offer job to him today

Post: Pecora wins three-man race, to be named coach today

Adam Zagoria: Pecora deal "almost done"

New York Times: Fordham AD says nothing to happen before tomorrow, doesn't want to interfere w/HU banquet tonight

CBI Craziness Standings: Second Round!

It took Rick Neuheisel all the willpower he had not to join CBI Craziness!

Health care reform. Tom Pecora possibly going to Fordham. Another woman admitting she bedded Tiger Woods.

What do these three worldwide news events have in common? Combined they aren’t one-billionth as exciting or as riveting as the CBI final four, which begins tonight in St. Louis and Richmond! That’s right, proper names are for suckers, and those other crappy tournaments to which nobody pays any attention!

Pfft, everyone’s all goofy over five mid-majors making the NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen. We’ve got FOUR mid-majors in the CBI final four! Take that, America!

Alas, I must begrudgingly admit those fools who participate in NCAA pools have one advantage over us: A set bracket. Somehow, in my excitement over starting the world’s biggest CBI pool, I forgot to note that the tournament re-seeds for the semifinals. So forget about seeing that much-anticipated VCU-Saint Louis matchup projected by a whopping seven of us.

However, the way I figure it, if the CBI is going to change the rules midstream, then damnit, so can we! So the 11 people left who have at least two teams in the field can pick the semifinal game that doesn’t feature their predicted champion—i.e. if you have VCU winning the championship, you can’t pick the VCU-BU game—and, with a correct guess, earn four valuable points! The 11 chosen ones (or the 10 chosen ones not named me) will have emails or Tweets awaiting them this morning.

Second chances in a second chance tournament. How perfect is that? Honestly, did you have any idea this kind of excitement awaited you when you joined the world’s biggest CBI pool?

Without further ado, here are the standings. VCU Pavarotti is the man thus far, with 11 points and three teams still alive, but Robert Simkins and—I swear this isn’t fixed—I are on his heels with nine points. I have no idea how I got to nine points.

On the other end of the spectrum, Josh Claywell has locked up last place with three points and no teams left. Poor kid is a Kentucky native who joined the pool based on my rantings about Hofstra, so his final four featured Morehead State and Eastern Kentucky and the Flying Dutchmen were his champion. Josh, I owe you a Coke.

Also: Fourteen contestants still have their champion alive: Six picked Saint Louis, five picked VCU, two picked Princeton and one picked Boston U. I’ll project the likely winners after the semifinals. Unless Pecora ends up moving to the Bronx, in which case it’ll probably get shelved for a few days.

CBI CRAZINESS ROUND TWO STANDINGS
VCU Pavarotti 11

Robert Simkins 9
Jerry Beach 9

Craig Smith 8
John Templon 8
Jim Waltman 8
Rob White 8
Gary Moore 8

Lee Warner 7
Tim Russell 7
Elise Russell-Manicke 7
Thad Brown 7
Steve Bittenbender 7

Michelle Beach 6
Mike Brodsky 6
Todd Golden 6
Mike Smith 6
Mike Hadley 6

David Kaye 5
Alisha Hord 5
Matt Edwards 5

Tony Sibilla 4
Enoram 4
Mike Stein 4
Sully Ray 4

Josh Claywell 3

Email Jerry at defiantlydutch@yahoo.com or follow Defiantly Dutch at http://twitter.com/defiantlydutch. 

All the Pecora links and rumors (and lies I’m spreading to keep him here!) you can handle!

This one goes out to the writers chasing this story as much as it does those of us obsessed with it!

He’s in, he’s out. He’s signed, sealed and delivered to Fordham, he hasn’t talked to Fordham yet. He’s gone, he’s staying. He’ll be the Fordham coach by tonight, the Hofstra men’s basketball banquet is still scheduled for tonight.

Yesterday was quite a day for those of us obsessed with the Tom Pecora Coaching Saga, with more twists and turns and misinformation than a single episode of Lost. I figure the best thing to do is link all the stories, Twitter accounts and message boards here so you can sift through everything and then lose your mind like me—and then repeat the entire process today!

My guess is we’ll have a resolution tonight. I can’t imagine Fordham wants to announce its new coach once the NCAA Tournament has resumed and I imagine Hofstra wants an answer as soon as possible. So hang tight, keep hitting refresh on Twitter and I’ll pass along anything I hear or read.

Fordham message board 

ESPN: Pecora offered gig, to visit Fordham today

Sean Brennan (Daily News): Pecora says he hasn’t talked to Fordham

Steve Marcus (Newsday): Fordham has talked to Pecora, will offer him the job soon

Jeff Goodman (FoxSports.com): Pecora, Fordham close 

Adam Zagoria (SNY.tv): Sources split on Pecora to Fordham

Twitters: @AdamZagoria, @goodmanonfox

In the meantime, enjoy the soothing melodies of Megadeth as you read the top five rumors I’m spreading in hopes Fordham runs far away from Pecora!

5.) Pecora wants to become a reality star and is planning to marry Kate Gosselin and star in “TP And Kate Plus Eight.”

4.) Pecora buried weapons of mass destruction underneath the Physical Fitness Center.

3.) Pecora rode the 7 train with John Rocker in 1999.

2.) Pecora, who had hip surgery last summer, was treated by Tony Galea, the Canadian doctor who has Alex Rodriguez in hot water.

1.) Pecora roots for the Red Sox and ignores Fordham booster Freddy Sez when he comes along with that pot and pan at Yankee Stadium!

Email Jerry at defiantlydutch@yahoo.com or follow Defiantly Dutch at http://twitter.com/defiantlydutch.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

In which we interrupt the Pecora rumors for a brief musical interlude

In which I once again butt into matters that are none of my business by begging Tom Pecora to stay at Hofstra

I'll do almost anything to keep Tom Pecora from moving to Albuquerque--err, the Bronx, Queens or South Orange, that is.

It’s days like these I wish I was a disc jockey, or that I was unafraid of heights, or that I could go more than six hours without the local Dunkin Donuts luring me in with their delicious coffee rolls (I don’t even drink coffee!). Because then I’d climb a billboard high above one of our local parkways or highways or embark upon a hunger strike, and I wouldn’t come back to solid ground or eat a single piece of solid food until Tom Pecora announced he was staying at Hofstra, forever and ever and ever and ever, or at least until football comes back.

Alas, since I’m in the one career (snort) with a brighter outlook than radio, and since I’m a “few” pounds overweight and get woozy looking out the window of my second-story apartment, all I can do is pound away on a keyboard. And I just can’t bring myself to write terribly libelous things about Pecora that will send Seton Hall, Fordham and St. John’s looking elsewhere for a new head coach, so all I can do is bellow the following:

FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, TOM, STAY AT HOFSTRA!

Part of my passionate begging is rooted in selfishness. I enjoy being able to walk into the office of a Division I head coach and conduct an interview at a moment’s notice. I also find it really neat that a link to my college days is still occupying the big office at Hofstra.

I see Pecora and I think of being 20 again, of the carefree days of youth when life revolved around drinking beers at Bogart’s and Fezziwigs and watching basketball games at the Physical Fitness Center and football games at Hofstra Stadium. And how awesome would it be if Pecora stayed at Hofstra long enough to surpass Butch van Breda Kolff, whom I covered in his last year as head coach, as the winningest coach in program history?

For crying out loud, I’ve known Pecora longer than I’ve known my wife. Cue Michelle: “And you like him more, too!”

Of course, overexposure to me is a pretty good reason for Pecora to look for an exit. I can guess there are others, too, even though Pecora has been vocal in the past in declaring it would take a unique job to leave the Dutchmen and neither Seton Hall nor Fordham strike me as such.

Maybe it’s just a matter of timing, with the three local schools seeking coaches as Pecora, 52, nears the point in his life where he’s running out of time to make a jump to a higher level.

Or maybe he’s tired of coaching a school where the basketball program remains a rumor among the student body and community, even after more than a decade of sustained success. The sight of “952” fans for the CBI game last week had to make him cringe.

It’s human nature to want to perform on a bigger stage and have your work appreciated by a larger audience. All three gigs offer Pecora a higher profile and the chance to enjoy the accompanying juicy rewards. Imagine if he returns St. John’s to glory, or turns water into wine at Fordham, or turns Seton Hall from punch line to powerhouse.

Or maybe it’s because he’s wondering about the long-term future of sports at Hofstra after football was executed. I’m not one of those people who thinks the death of football was step one in destroying Hofstra athletics. But I’m also not a head coach at another high-profile program on a campus where the president is indifferent at best to sports.

There’s no conjecture about this: Pecora does not like the CAA. We joke about southern bias. He doesn’t. And the multiple NCAA Tournament bids that were used as bait to lure Hofstra away from the America East have never really materialized (twice in nine years). Just because he is more mature than me in discussing how the best team he ever coached was screwed out of a berth in 2006 doesn’t mean he’s gotten over it, or the fact it was perpetuated from inside the conference.

Or maybe he just wants another challenge. Pecora has been here 16 years as an assistant or head coach, which is almost surely a Hofstra record and an epoch in a restless profession (I think Larry Brown has coached all 30 NBA teams and six colleges since 1994).

And if he chooses to leave, we will salute him, after an appropriate six-to-eight month period of mourning, and speak as well of him as he toils in South Orange, Queens or Rose Hill as we would if he was still right off Hempstead Turnpike. We’ll buy the swag of his new school, begin blogging about it and hope his SID doesn’t big-time me when I call for an interview several years down the road (extreme inside joke there).

But with all that said, it must be asked: Would the present and future for Pecora be any better at a new school and in a new league?

None of the schools pursuing Pecora are on the radar of the average New York sports fan. Seton Hall and St. John’s ranked 13th and 14th in attendance in the 16-team Big East Conference this season. Seton Hall, which doesn’t play any home games on its South Orange campus, averaged just 7,103 fans per game at the 18,500-seat Prudential Center in Newark and drew only 1,829 to the NIT game against Texas Tech.

St. John’s didn’t draw a single sellout at its on-campus gym, the 6,008-seat Carnesecca Arena, and averaged just 3,719 fans per game there. Nor did the Red Storm come close to a sellout in any of its eight games at the 20,000-seat Madison Square Garden, where the average crowd was 8,392.

Fordham played 11 of its 13 home games at Rose Hill Gym, a facility so outdated it makes the Physical Fitness Center look modern in comparison. The Rams averaged 1,983 fans in the 3,200-seat building and didn’t come close to drawing 10,000 fans in either or their “home” games at the Izod Center or MSG. Fordham has no plans to replace the ancient Rose Hill Gym, reportedly planning instead to play more games in the future at Izod Center.

Whomever takes over the local schools will have to embark almost immediately on a rebuilding project. That’s nothing new at Fordham, which has been in such dire straits (the Rams are 5-51 the last two years, including 2-26 this season, and have had just one winning season since moving to the A-10 in 1995-96) for so long that one athletic administrator with ties to local colleges was incredulous that Pecora would even consider the job.

“Tell him to give me a call so I can ask him what the [expletive] he’s thinking,” the administrator said.

At Seton Hall, meanwhile, the athletic department is in shambles. Law school dean Patrick Hobbs was the one who fired Bobby Gonzalez, not athletic director Joe Quinlan or school president Robert Sheehan. That happened just weeks after Hobbs cut the track teams at Seton Hall despite their history of success. Hmm, a law school guy cutting sports. That sounds familiar.

Quinlan and Sheehan appear on their way out at Seton Hall, which means that unless Hobbs takes over one or both of their jobs, whomever succeeds Gonzalez will almost immediately be in the unenviable position of having been inherited by his boss. That is never good—especially for the new guy at the Hall, who, given the wreckage left by Gonzalez, may be staring at the type of start Tom Crean has endured at Indiana.

St. John’s is in better position now that Norm Roberts has cleaned up Mike Jarvis’ mess, but the Red Storm have nine—NINE!!!—seniors next season, which means there’s a lot of pressure on Roberts’ replacement to come up with a big-time Class of 2015.

Even if Pecora lifts a new school to respectability, the final step to reaching the NCAA Tournament out of the Big East or Atlantic 10 may be as tough as it is out of the CAA.

In the five years since the Big East expanded to 16 teams, the conference has received 37 bids to the NCAA Tournament. Nine schools have combined for 36 of those bids. All nine schools—the eight that got into this year’s tournament as well as UConn—have reached the tournament at least three times apiece. The only other school to crash the party? Seton Hall in 2006. And all that did was get Louis Orr fired.

The A-10 received three bids this season for the third straight year. But in the last 10 years, the conference has earned just 25 NCAA Tournament berths, all of which have been grabbed by six schools: Xavier (nine), Temple (four), St. Joseph’s (four), Dayton (three), George Washington (three) and Richmond (two). In addition, the average seed of an A-10 team in that span is eight. Only seven times has the A-10 received a seed higher than seventh.

If, four or five years from now, Pecora’s new school is still on the outside looking in, you can be sure his bosses aren’t going to care how difficult it is to break into the elite in their conference. Fordham, St. John’s and Seton Hall have had a combined 11 coaches since Pecora arrived at Hofstra. All were fired except Tommy Amaker, who bolted the Hall for Michigan after the 2000-01 season.

Meanwhile, this is what awaits Pecora at Hofstra: The conference player of the year—perhaps the best player Pecora has ever coached—returning for his senior season joined by a member of the CAA’s all-defensive team, two members of this year’s CAA All-Rookie team, three redshirts and another promising freshmen class.

The Dutchmen should be among the CAA’s top four teams next season, though actually winning the CAA will be as challenging as ever. But imagine the feeling in the pit of Pecora’s stomach if he’s sitting home after failing to reach the NCAA Tournament with Fordham, Seton Hall or St. John’s and watching Charles Jenkins cements his legacy by lifting the Dutchmen to the CAA championship under a new coach.

And if Pecora does stick around and endure a 10th straight season without an NCAA Tournament berth—or an 11th and a 12th and a 13th? The good thing about coaching at a school where the president as apathetic about sports as the student body and surrounding community is the unmatched job security. Whether he wins big, loses big or does something in the middle, Pecora never has to worry about anything other than a few posters on the CAA Zone.

The commute is unmatched too: The trek from Pecora’s office to Hofstra Arena is almost as short as his journey from his Nassau County home to campus. There are no bridges to cross, no monstrous traffic jams with which to deal. Once in a while, a 15-minute commute takes half an hour, instead of a one-hour drive taking two or three. No worries, either, about luring students to games played off-campus.

Pecora often talks of the dash—what people do in between birth and death. He’s on pace for a pretty good dash here. Five or 10 years from now, he could look back on a 20- or 25-year career at Hofstra and take—you knew this was coming—great pride in becoming the winningest coach in school history and becoming as synonymous with Hofstra as his mentor, Bob McKillop, is with Davidson.

He could reflect upon an impressive body of work in which he lifted a program from the edge of Division I extinction into a big-time conference (the impending implosion of the Division I landscape will get Hofstra out of the CAA, you can be sure of that) and, hopefully, into an NCAA Tournament or two as head coach. He could glance down from his suite at Hofstra Arena and see the Flying Dutchmen playing on Tom Pecora Court.

Pecora’s work at Hofstra is not done. Hopefully he agrees, and hopefully we look back at the final words he spoke following the loss to IUPUI Wednesday and believe they were directed only at the players who were disappointed their season ended with a loss.

“It’s not a fairy tale,” Pecora said. “It doesn’t always end the way you want.”

Hopefully, we come to realize he wasn’t talking to us, or himself.

Email Jerry at defiantlydutch@yahoo.com or follow Defiantly Dutch at http://twitter.com/defiantlydutch.

Friday, March 19, 2010

CBI Craziness Standings: First Round!

How hard-core are those of us in CBI Craziness? Not even Pete Rose joined!

Sorry for the delay in getting the CBI Craziness standings to you, I've just been in mourning since the Flying Dutchmen's season ended in front of absolutely nobody Wednesday night. It does feel appropriate that the best anyone did in projecting a third-tier tournament was 63 percent (5 of 8). I'm also going to take whatever opportunity I can to declare I am the smartest person among my group of season ticket holders. Take a look at who is tied for first and who is tied for last!!

That said, I hope I don't win, because it'll be much cooler to give the first place prize that I came up with to somebody else. Juicy, yes? Fortunately (or unfortunately), a bunch of people in this Hofstra-centric pool are in trouble. So if you didn't go to school in Hempstead, or didn't let my rantings and ravings influence your picks, you've got a pretty good shot at winning that super duper awesome prize.

Anyway, here you go, along with a breakdown of how we picked the first round games (we were horribly wrong about the two games we were most sure about!) as well as a breakdown of who we picked to reach and win the CBI championship series. I'll have the second round results Tuesday (no, really!). Enjoy your weekend and that "other" tournament!

CBI Craziness Standings

FIRST ROUND
Steve Bittenbender 5
Elise Manicke-Russell 5
Tim Russell 5
Robert Simkins 5
VCU Pavarotti 5
Lee Warner 5
Jerry Beach 5

Mike Brodsky 4
Enoram 4
Michael Hadley 4
Gary Moore 4
Craig Smith 4
Mike Smith 4
Mike Stein 4
John Templon 4
Jim Waltman 4
Rob White 4

Thad Brown 3
Josh Claywell 3
Matt Edwards 3
Alisha Hord 3
David Kaye 3

Michelle Beach 2
Todd Golden 2
Tony Sibilla 2
Sully Ray 2

GAME BREAKDOWNS
Akron-Green Bay: Akron 23-3
IUPUI-Hofstra: Hofstra 22-4
Duquesne-Princeton: Princeton 21-5
Saint Louis-Indiana State: Saint Louis 20-6
Boston U.-Oregon State: Oregon St 20-6
VCU-George Washington: VCU 19-7
Charleston-E. Kentucky: E. Kentucky 15-11
Colorado State-Morehead State: Morehead St. 15-11

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PREDICTIONS
Hofstra 11
VCU 9
Saint Louis 8
Oregon State 5
Akron 4
Morehead State 3
Princeton 3
George Washington 3
Boston U. 1
Charleston 1
IUPUI 1
E. Kentucky 1
Colorado State 1
Duquesne 1

CHAMPION PREDICTIONS
Saint Louis 6
Hofstra 5
VCU 5
Akron 4
Princeton 2
Boston U. 1
Morehead State 1
Duquesne 1
GWU 1

Email Jerry at defiantlydutch@yahoo.com or follow Defiantly Dutch at http://twitter.com/defiantlydutch.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

IUPUI 74, Hofstra 60 (Or: The CBI stands for Can’t Believe I thought this was a good idea)


Yeah I remember the good times and the bad times too. These last 11 days of holding on, the days were dull but the CBI game was long, guess it would have been better to say goodbye to you...

The good news about last night is there’s no need for the Flying Dutchmen and their fans to worry about how to celebrate a College Basketball Invitational championship. Rush the court or not? Raise a CBI banner or not? Buy a championship T-shirt or not? Brag about it or not?

Beats us. Those are IUPUI’s problems now, after the Jaguars of Alphabet Soup University ended the Dutchmen’s season (unless I can drum up funding for the Defiantly Dutch Invitational, to be held in front of my house on the 7-foot hoop that is used by the neighborhood kids and was blown over during the torrential downpours last weekend) with a thorough 74-60 victory supposedly witnessed by 952 people.

A brief tangent about the CBI and the lack of interest in it: I was going to rant and rave about fan apathy at Hofstra, until I realized that I’d also have to rant about fan apathy at Oregon State, Morehead State, Princeton, Saint Louis, Akron, George Washington and Eastern Kentucky.

Those eight schools hosted a first round CBI game and drew a combined 13,694 fans—just shy of 25 percent of the combined capacity of 56,400. Half the games were played in front of less than 1,000 people, with Hofstra drawing the most of the triple digit bunch. Here’s the ugly truth—the announced crowds with the capacity of the gym/arena in parenthesis.

Saint Louis: 3,542 (10,600)
Oregon State: 2,913 (10,400
Morehead State: 2,202 (6,500)
Eastern Kentucky: 1,750 (6,500)
Hofstra: 952 (5,046)
Akron: 877 (5,500)
George Washington: 793 (5,000)
Princeton: 665 (6,854)

I don’t know if it’s the economy, a lack of knowledge about the CBI (at some point, I’ll run the CIT numbers too), an oversaturation of postseason tournaments or some combination thereof. I’m rooting for these tournaments to succeed, because as my fondness for the 1994 East Coast Conference tournament proves, I’ve got a soft spot for things played in obscurity.

I also want the CBI and/or CIT to succeed because I believe most mid-majors will have no postseason tournament at all to participate in once the NCAA folds the NIT and expands to 96. But if you were there last night, I’d save your ticket as a future conversation piece, because no matter what it does or does not charge a school to host a game, there is no way the CBI can survive these types of numbers and this type of disinterest.

That said, if there is a CBI next year, and if the Dutchmen fall short of the NCAA or NIT and I’m unwilling to let go of the season, remind me of last night and tell me to shut the you-know-what-up when I start waxing poetic about how the Dutchmen should accept an opportunity to keep playing. Because last night was a depressing way to end what was a fun and fascinating season. (Of course, I realize that my friend Michael Hadley probably feels a whole lot differently, hope you enjoy that Billy Joel CD, you bum!)

It was so empty and so silent in the Arena for the opening tip last night that it actually felt awkward to be there. This is no exaggeration: Before Sully Ray’s parents arrived right at 7, I was completely alone in my section.

It was weird to carry on a conversation, because there was a pretty good chance the players would hear it. The shouting of the coaches was easily audible, as was one referee warning IUPUI star Robert Glenn he was going to get a technical foul if he kept chirping.

And the Dutchmen were as flat as the arena, coming out with no fire or passion—neither of which was lacking even during the worst of the January funk—and failing to find those necessary traits until it was way too late.

“The expression we use all the time is ’50 by 94,’” Tom Pecora said. “It doesn’t matter how many people are in the gym. It doesn’t matter if there’s a lot of people hanging off the rafters or if there’s no one in the gym It’s 50 by 94. You’re playing for pride [editor’s note: Boooo! Bad pun!], you’re playing for the name on the front of your shirt and you’ve got to go out and give a great effort. And we didn’t give a good enough effort tonight.”

IUPUI, meanwhile, looked right at home in the barren Arena. The Jaguars recorded just two sellouts this season at their home gym, which is dubbed “The Jungle” and holds a mere 1,215 people. And three “home” games at Conseco Fieldhouse—the 18,345-capacity arena whose main occupant is the NBA’s Pacers—drew an average of just 2,137 people.

So to see dust bunnies disguised as 952 people was routine for the Jaguars, who jumped out to leads of 13-0 and 21-2 and never came close to trailing. The Dutchmen, who trailed wire-to-wire just twice during the regular season—but not 126 days earlier during the opener at top-ranked Kansas—got within six late in the first half, but IUPUI went into the locker room on an 8-1 run and led by at least nine throughout the final 20 minutes.

“When you go into the postseason, if it’s not the big dance, you’ve got to hope that guys are focused and locked in,” Pecora said. “And we came out flat. We’ve never come out that flat. I don’t know if we’ve ever come out that flat in all my time here. So we just dug ourselves a big hole.”

In addition, while it’s pretty easy for the Dutchmen to play the no respect card during the CAA season, it was the Jaguars who had all the ammunition Wednesday. IUPUI finished the regular season with an RPI of 83, finished second in the Summit League with a 15-3 mark and went a gaudy 24-10 overall. Yet the Jaguars were never in the NIT discussion and had to travel halfway across the country to take on the Dutchmen, who were knocked out of the CAA Tournament in the quarterfinals and entered Wednesday with an RPI of 145.

“I think they were hungry, obviously, I think they were upset they lost in their championship game to Oakland and I think they felt like they had something to prove,” Pecora said. “I thought they came in right from the get-go and they played with great energy at the beginning of the game. You can’t let that happen anywhere, but especially at home.”

Nor did it help that this was a terrible matchup for the Dutchmen with Greg Washington out due to a sprained ankle. The beastly 6-foot-7 Glenn abused the Dutchmen for 32 points on 9-of-18 shooting and a 14-of-17 performance from the free throw line.

Nathaniel Lester drew the start—his first since Jan. 23—in place of Washington but was back on the bench after Glenn scored two easy baskets on him in the first 94 seconds. Lester finished with eight points, half of which he scored in the final minute, as the Dutchmen fell to 1-8 in his last nine starts.

“Not having Greg Washington—not making excuses, but he’s the perfect guy to guard Glenn, because he’s mobile and he can chase him around,” Pecora said. “We tried Nat Lester a little bit, but then we had to guard him with a bigger person and that was a tough matchup for us. But hey, good teams make adjustments and guys who come off the bench take advantage of being starters when those situations arise.”

The idea of playing in the CBI was to get valuable experience for the underclassmen, but Lester wasn’t the only one who underperformed. Little-used freshmen Yves Jules and Matt Grogan remained little-used. Chaz Williams had an impressive second half, during which he scored all 13 of his points, but played just six minutes in the first half as his late-season slump continued. And while Charles Jenkins led the Dutchmen in scoring with 21 points and flirted with a triple-double by collecting seven rebounds and seven assists, he also had five turnovers and took just 13 shots.

Only Halil Kanacevic and David Imes turned the experience into a positive. Kanacevic had another double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds) and added a career-high six blocks while Imes pulled down three rebounds and had a block in 15 minutes, his most extensive action since Dec. 12 against New Hampshire.

The night was no better for seniors Miklos Szabo and Cornelius Vines, each of whom played key roles in the Dutchmen’s February resurgence but finished their careers by scoring two points apiece. Szabo played just 20 minutes on a night when the Dutchmen needed big performances from their bigs and Vines was 1-of-10 from the field and 0-of-8 in 3-point attempts.

It was quite a departure from the last time they played at the Arena 18 days earlier, when an enthusiastic Senior Day crowd turned out to say goodbye for the first time and saw Vines flirt with the school record for 3-pointers in a single game. Maybe, if the administration could get a do-over, that’d be the last image Szabo and Vines have of the Arena.

And maybe, if the administration could get a do-over, the last image of 2009-10 would be of the exhausted Dutchmen expending every bit of energy in the double overtime loss to Northeastern in the CAA quarterfinals. Maybe there was no way to refuel after that, and after a frantic second half in which the Dutchmen turned a 2-7 start into a 10-8 finish. Maybe it’s better to be left wanting more, instead of getting more and not doing much of anything with it.

The 2009-10 Flying Dutchmen season is like a thoroughly engrossing and memorable concert that ends with the band yodeling throughout its encore. You won’t forget the magic created earlier in the evening—“This won’t define our season,” Pecora said—but the anticlimactic ending will stick for a while.

“Whether you win or lose, it’s a teachable moment,” Pecora said. “When we sit down and meet, I’m going to talk to them about what happened tonight, why it might have happened and how we can prepare to make sure this never happens again.”

As long as “this” also refers to playing in the CBI or CIT, I’m all for it.

3 STARS OF THE GAME (vs. IUPUI, 3/17)
3: Halil Kanacevic
2: Charles Jenkins
1: Chaz Williams

FINAL SEASON STANDINGS
Charles Jenkins 71
Chaz Williams 29
Halil Kanacevic 26
Miklos Szabo 21
Cornelius Vines 19
Nathaniel Lester 19
Greg Washington 18
Yves Jules 1

Email Jerry at defiantlydutch@yahoo.com or follow Defiantly Dutch at http://twitter.com/defiantlydutch.