Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Thanks to Jenkins, Dutchmen have the Wright Stuff for BracketBusters

Wow cool I don't think we've ever played a school named after one of our former coaches!

Five years ago, the Flying Dutchmen had legitimate NCAA Tournament at-large hopes for the first time in program history but drew a decidedly uninspired and non-televised Bracket Buster when they hosted Siena. (Though we thank the basketball gods for that, because it’s not every day you see the wife of the opposing head coach kicked out of the arena for cursing out the refs)

Despite a surprisingly fast CAA start for the 2010-11 Dutchmen (start—hell after tonight the conference season is two-thirds complete!), it’s win the automatic bid or bust when it comes to their NCAA Tournament hopes. So this would be a year in which we wouldn’t blame Tom O’Connor if Hofstra landed a dud of a Bracket Buster. But—and this is one of the real, live #CharlesJenkinsFacts!—it turns out having the best player in program history was enough to get the Dutchmen on TV.

The Dutchmen learned Monday night they will visit Wright State, a regular contender in the Horizon League, on Feb. 19 at 11 a.m. on ESPNU in one of the 11 BracketBusters televised live on one of the ESPN channels. It’s the first time the Dutchmen have received a televised BracketBuster game. (And really, it’s about time, since we’re the only CAA school that has never lost in the damn thing!)

Hofstra seemed to be on the TV bubble after a two-game losing streak that dropped the Dutchmen into fourth place in the CAA, but the combination of the strength of the conference and the drawing power of Jenkins was enough to get the Dutchmen one of the broadcasts. The CAA leads all participating conferences with five teams in TV games (VCU, George Mason, Old Dominion and Drexel are the others).

“I think the number one thing we were hoping for was an opportunity to play in the national TV game,” Mo Cassara said Monday night. “We knew we were close in the RPI and rankings. For us, first time since Hofstra has been in the Bracket Buster that we’ve been in the TV games, so I think that’s a huge accomplishment for our program and our team. Were looking forward to the opportunity to play.”

At the end of the BracketBuster selection show, analysts Joe Lunardi and Andy Katz were asked to identify the player America will most enjoy watching in two-plus weeks. Lunardi and Katz answered, without hesitation, Jenkins. (Another one of the actual #CharlesJenkinsFacts!)

“Charles got an incredible amount of national attention on ESPN, Hofstra got a bunch of mentions,” Cassara said. “Another great level of exposure for our program and for Charles.”

For Cassara, the game at Wright State—which is located in Dayton—is another in a series of homecomings for the well-traveled coach, who coached at six different colleges and high schools before landing at Hofstra. Cassara was an assistant at Dayton in 2003-04.

“I know how passionate the fans are out there in Dayton and how passionate they are about basketball,” Cassara said. “I used to live right down the street from Nutter Center. I know the place very well. That’ll give me a little [opportunity] to kind of talk to the team about Wright State and what a basketball team they’ve had and what a good tradition they’ve had and how it’s a tough place to play.”

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