Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Five pregame thoughts: UNC Wilmington

Pregame thought no. 6: Exploit Dave Krieg's tendency to fumble! Oh wait. Wrong Seahawks, wrong sport.

1.) UNC Wilmington is always a tough place to play midweek during the school year, but the task gets doubly difficult tonight as the Flying Dutchmen take on the Seahawks during their Senior Night. The Seahawks’ three seniors—sound familiar?—have been through a ton the last year, including multiple coaching changes—sound familiar?—and have helped UNCW enjoy a surprisingly competitive season—sound familiar?—so they will be particularly ready to go and ready to exit Trask Coliseum with a win.

2.) Expect a great duel between our Charles Jenkins and their Charles Jenkins, i.e. Brett Tomko. The two players, who had little choice but to stick with their schools and their new coaches, have taken their already impressive games to unforeseen levels as seniors and have been responsible for lifting Hofstra and UNCW far higher than anybody expected this year. Check out this excellent feature on the relationship between Jenkins and Tomko, who have enjoyed some good battles and become friendly over the course of their eight-year careers (OK it just seems as if both guys have been in the CAA for eight years) by our good friend Brian Mull.

3.) Unless Buzz Peterson doesn’t have cable, expect UNC Wilmington to borrow liberally from the Wright State game plan of quintuple-teaming Jenkins (OK that’s impossible). Expect, too, for the Dutchmen to have a better answer for the Seahawks’ emphasis on Jenkins than they did for Wright State Saturday. The Dutchmen won’t be caught surprised tonight and Brad Kelleher and Mike Moore will be far more involved than they were against Wright State.

4.) David Imes seemed to take the loss to Wright State worse than anyone, so my guess is the burgeoning leader will have a big game against the Seahawks. The Dutchmen will need Imes to do what he did in the first meeting of the season between the teams (14 points and 10 rebounds in a career-high 39 minutes) to negate the impact of fellow sophomore Keith Rendelman, who is averaging almost a double-double (10.6 points, 7.9 rebounds).

5.) The Dutchmen have specialized in the bottom-line win this season—who cares about style points, just win—and that’s got to be the focus again in the final week of the regular season. Two wins and a loss by either VCU or ODU allows the Dutchmen to escape fourth place and a possible semifinal game with George Mason. But, of course, one loss pretty much locks up fourth for the Dutchmen, who will lose tiebreakers to any of the top three teams. Neither of the final two games will be easy for the Dutchmen, who won’t get back to Long Island until tomorrow morning and will be playing after the emotional Senior Day festivities for Jenkins, Kelleher and Greg Washington, and you can be sure Mo Cassara has stressed the importance of grinding out wins and enjoying the opportunity to rest from Sunday through Friday next week.

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