Monday, February 21, 2011

Wright State 82, Hofstra 56 (Or: Must have been at Wright State, but at the wrong time)

This edged out New Kids on the Block.

There are some games where the bullet point recap isn’t about being busy or recovering from an epic bout of food poisoning or stomach flu. Sometimes, a Flying Dutchmen game is just such a dud that the bullet point recap just has to suffice. Such was the case Saturday, when the Dutchmen’s perfect BracketBusters record was shattered in resounding fashion as Wright State cruised to an 82-56 victory in Dayton. Got two big games on the horizon and Senior Day festivities to look forward to this week, as well as the Dutchmen’s amazing run to the CAA title two weeks from now, so let’s recap this one and move on and never speak of it again, shall we?

1.) If you pray to a higher being, and think he or she is concerned with trivial things such as sporting events, thank him or her that UNC Wilmington and Brad Brownell had a messy divorce following the 2005-06 season. Because if UNCW and Brownell were able to play nice, then Vaughn Duggins would have terrorized the Dutchmen for four years instead of one afternoon. Duggins, who was recruited to UNCW by Brownell but followed him to Wright State, had quite possibly the greatest game I’ve ever seen by a Dutchmen opponent in scoring a career-high 31 points (on 10-of-18 shooting and a 10-of-10 performance from the free throw line), collecting four rebounds, two assists and two steals while also leading Wright State’s absolutely suffocating defensive performance on Charles Jenkins. This was a clinic, on both ends of the floor, and Wright State fans should feel as melancholy about Duggins' imminent departure as Hofstra fans do about the waning days of Jenkins’ career.

2.) It’s never fun to lose by 26, especially in late February, but the sliver of good news Saturday is that the Dutchmen got a stark reminder, in a game that didn’t impact their CAA standing, of how dangerous it is to rely entirely on Jenkins, who was triple- and QUADRUPLE-TEAMED by Wright State. Jenkins scored 18 points on 3-of-8 shooting, which marked only the sixth time since his freshman season he hit three field goals or less in a single game and the third time he was held to fewer than 10 shots. Such a focused defensive effort by the Raiders would, theoretically, open things up for the rest of the Dutchmen, but Jenkins’ teammates hit just 11 field goals and combined for a grand total of one assist (and that was on the Dutchmen’s last field goal of the game with 2:17 to play) while the Dutchmen finished 1-of-17 from 3-point land (including 1-of-7 by Brad Kelleher). The Dutchmen strung together consecutive baskets just twice and endured three field goal droughts of at least five minutes apiece. If not for the whistle-happy refs and a 27-of-38 performance at the free throw line, the Dutchmen might have set shot clock era records for offensive ineptitude. As it was, the 14 total field goals and four assists were the fewest for the Dutchmen since they drained 13 field goals and had five assists against Holy Cross Nov. 10, 2007—Jenkins’ debut. The task for Mo Cassara and staff this week is to find ways to get everyone else involved even when Jenkins is suffocated, or else the trip to Richmond will be a short one.

3.) Mike Moore finished with 14 points, but his 24th double-digit effort in 28 starts was a misleading one. He failed to hit a 3-pointer for just third time this season, and the first time in a game in which he had more than two attempts beyond the arc. Most of his points came from the free throw line, where Moore was 8-of-11, and he was invisible in the first half after a basket less than 90 seconds in gave the Dutchmen their biggest lead at 4-0. In the second half, Moore seemed almost out of control in firing up questionable shots and crashing into defenders in hopes of drawing foul calls on those shots. Moore’s consistency and unflappability is the second-biggest reason the Dutchmen have exceeded all expectations this season, and the gap between Jenkins and Moore on the Dutchmen MVP ballot (if such a thing existed) wouldn’t be as large as you might think. But Saturday has to be a hiccup, a tough game that spiraled out of control as the deficit grew, for the Dutchmen to harbor legitimate CAA title hopes.

4.) Greg Washington and David Imes put solid statistical lines: Each was 3-of-5 from the field and the duo combined for 15 rebounds (eight for Washington). But undersized Wright State established itself down low early with Washington in foul trouble (he picked up two fouls in the first seven minutes) and pulled down nine offensive rebounds in the first half compared to just two offensive boards for the Dutchmen. Washington and Imes need confidence-boosting outings against UNC Wilmington and Delaware this weekend in preparation for the tournament, where the Dutchmen’s most likely opponents all present matchup problems in the paint.

5.) For better or worse, the Dutchmen have been here before. This is their sixth loss of 15 points or more, but they are 3-2 after their previous routs and have fashioned all three of their four-game winning streaks immediately after a lopsided loss (Nebraska, Iona and George Mason). Another four-game winning streak puts the Dutchmen into the CAA championship game two weeks from tonight. As prone to the rout as it is, resiliency isn’t a problem for this team, which is good, because it’s probably too late in the season for the type of boot camp practices Cassara held after the Iona defeat. Cassara’s new mantra is “why not us?” and expect the Dutchmen to hear a lot of that this week and next as they try to regroup for one more surprising run.

3 STARS OF THE GAME (vs. Wright State, 2/19)
3: Charles Jenkins
2: Greg Washington
1: Mike Moore

Charles Jenkins 72
Mike Moore 36
Greg Washington 25
David Imes 16
Brad Kelleher 7
Shemiye McLendon 5
Dwan McMillan 5
Yves Jules 1
Stephen Nwaukoni 1

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