Friday, September 23, 2011

Flying Dutchwomen field hockey team hopes to make history against royal Monarchs

Most coaches preparing a team for a game against the top-ranked team in the country have a boilerplate of quotes and thoughts about the task ahead of them: It’s only one game. We’re not viewing it as any bigger or smaller than any other game. It’s a good opportunity but not that big a deal. We can’t look ahead and think about what it might mean to win such a game.

But Kathy DeAngelis isn’t sticking to the script as the Flying Dutchwomen field hockey team heads to Old Dominion to take on the no. 1 Lady Monarchs in the CAA opener for both schools at 5 p.m. This IS a big game. This IS a big deal. And winning it WOULD mean a lot for both the field hockey program and Hofstra.

“That’s really exciting for our program to be playing the number one team in the nation,” DeAngelis said by phone yesterday from Virginia. “The opportunity to say hey, we’re playing the number one team in the nation—I feel that excitement, it’s in the air everywhere.

“We can leave a mark—obviously for us to win this game but [it] would also be a huge, tremendous win for the university.”

No matter where Old Dominion is ranked, DeAngelis always looks forward to facing the Monarchs, who have certainly earned the moniker in field hockey. Old Dominion has won a record nine national championships and Lady Monarchs coach Beth Anders is the sport’s all-time winningest coach with 532 victories in 29 seasons at the helm.

Even by their lofty historical standards, though, the Lady Monarchs are putting together some kind of season. Old Dominion is 8-0 with seven wins against top 10 teams and has already toppled a pair of no. 1s in Maryland and North Carolina. The win over the Tar Heels last Friday catapulted Old Dominion to no. 1 in the polls for the first time in nine years. (For more on Old Dominion’s hot start, check out this story about the Lady Monarchs from the Daily Press in Virginia)

“The Old Dominion game is really the highlight of our year every year,” DeAngelis said. “Wherever they are ranked, we know that they are a tremendous team and we have great respect for their program.”

As respectful as the Dutchwomen are of Old Dominion, they’ll take the field this afternoon feeling confident and well-prepared. Hofstra, which was picked eighth in the nine-team CAA in the preseason poll of coaches, has begun to get some attention nationally thanks to a four-game winning streak that includes a win over then-no. 16 Albany as well as a potent offense that ranks fifth in the nation with 44 goals—more than the Dutchwomen scored all of last season. That creates a matchup of strengths against Old Dominion, which has outscored its opposition 27-8.

Since opening the season with a 7-1 loss at fourth-ranked UConn, the Dutchwomen have scored at least three goals in every game but one and have lost three times by a total of four goals, including an overtime defeat to Stanford, which is currently ranked eighth in the nation. Last week, the Dutchwomen had the CAA’s co-player of the week in senior forward Genna Kovar as well as the rookie of the week in freshman forward Jonel Boileau.

“They have exceeded, personally, my expectations,” DeAngelis said. “Scheduling is definitely part of that, but it’s also really exciting we’ve scored that many goals. We have so many players that can put the ball in the net and that makes us very dangerous.”

In addition, while Hofstra is 1-8 all-time against Old Dominion, 13 of the 27 players on this year’s team were on the 2009 team that upset then-no. 16 Old Dominion, 6-5, in Norfolk in 2009. And the Dutchwomen were competitive in falling 3-1 last year to a Lady Monarchs team that ended up winning the CAA and advancing to the NCAA quarterfinals.

A win today would not only be the biggest ever for the field hockey team but also one of the most notable achievements for any program at Hofstra. Only three Flying Dutch squads have ever beaten the nation’s no. 1 team—something DeAngelis plans to remind her team about in the pre-game meeting.

“To be able to play against [Old Dominion] in conference play is just huge,” DeAngelis said. “But for us, that definitely creates interest knowing that we have a chance to create some history here. I can kind of use that [today].”

Email Jerry at or follow Defiantly Dutch at

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bits and Bytes: Seasons change!

Because posting the "Seasons Change" video would be cliche! (Freshman year of high school for the win!)

Remember when we were kids and seasons shifted gradually? You’d get a few weeks of increasingly warmer weather in May and June before the heat really kicked in at the start of summer. The warm weather would taper off in September with perhaps a last gasp or two of politically incorrect Indian summer in October before it began feeling like fall.

Nowadays, seasons change in the span of a single day. I walked my wife to her car early Thursday morning, when it felt more like the last week of school than the first. We went out to eat shortly after sunset and the weather so brisk I wondered if we’d run into some trick or treaters.

I blame the sudden shift of seasons on global warming. Or the fact that it’s always been like this but our childhood memories are what we think they were, not what they actually were. I don’t know. It’s like my very own Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, or something,

Anyway, whatever the reason for the sudden seasonal shift, it was ironic, in that it was coincidental, that it happened Thursday, exactly one month before the start of college basketball practice. The dropping temperatures seemed to put the scent of hoops in the air and give us the nudge we all needed to start talking and writing about it.

Welcome back, fall, and welcome back hoops. We missed you. Now for some of the better bits and bytes you may have missed over the last few days:

—Our good friend Brian Mull penned more than 3,000 words in a two-day span and unofficially christened the season with his first Colonial X, in which he pegged Mike Moore as one of the 10 best players in the CAA. He’s right, of course, but he’s missing nine other Flying Dutchmen. We’ll give him a pass, although he once again disrespected Dutch Nation (snort) by picking Hofstra eighth in his predictions.

Mull takes one for the team by becoming the first reporter to put predictions to paper, but the task of picking the CAA won’t get any easier in the next four or six weeks. Drexel and George Mason are pretty easy picks in the top two—pick the order, we won’t argue either way—and William & Mary, Old Dominion and VCU are good bets for three through five in some order. Put everyone else in a hat, even Towson, and you’ve got as good a shot of picking six through 12 as you do if you put actual thought into it. Which we’ll do at some point before tipoff, because it’s fun to have something with which to laugh at me in March!

—Speaking of Mull, congratulations to the former PGA Tour caddie on winning the Wilmington City Amateur golf championship Sunday for the third time in five years. Dude does it all. Best beat writer in the CAA, provided excellent and reasoned coverage of Hurricane Irene, chips in on high school coverage in Wilmington, rescuer of stray cats from burning buildings. I may have made that last one up. But seriously, as someone whose athletic career “peaked” around 16, congrats. And props to the Star-News for not making Mull write about himself, like I had to as the de facto sports editor of the Class of 1991 yearbook. “Last-place finisher Jerry Beach tried hard and his Mom loves him very much.”

—Where was I? Oh right. Mike Litos, who also annually hates Hofstra by refusing to pick the Dutchmen first in his predictions, identified the Dutchmen as the team with the toughest “four in eight” schedule. Every CAA team plays four games between Jan. 21-28, and as I noted in my review of Hofstra’s schedule, the Dutchmen’s “four in eight” seems to have been scripted by someone still trying to stick it to Tom Pecora. At William & Mary, at VCU, home for Mason and at Northeastern. Only good thing about the travel is the Virginia trip takes place during Intersession, so there won’t be any back and forth. Still, that is a brutal stretch. SOUTHERN BIAS!!!!

—While we obsess over the season still to come, Mo Cassara and staff are looking ahead to 2012-13 and beyond and just landed promising power forward Jimmy Hall, a senior at national powerhouse St. Anthony’s. Adam Zagoria and Zach Braziller both profiled Hall following his decision. As always with recruiting, I’ll link to what other people—usually Zagoria and Braziller—write once there’s some actual hard news (not this whole “Joe Blow identifies Hofstra as one of the 317 schools he’s heard from” business), because they’re good at it and then refrain from writing anything else until the players are actually on campus, See the Malik Nichols saga for more.

—And finally, a long-overdue recommendation to check out the blog produced by my good friend Joe Suhoski, whom you might know better as @VABeachRep, whom in turn you might know better as that other guy on Twitter who likes Scrubs and Extreme as much as I do. Joe made his press box debut this weekend at the Old Dominion-Hampton football game (Football? What’s that? #ThanksStu) and heeded my advice to be seen and not heard (I think he’d stopped reading by the time I channeled Dr. Cox and wrote of journalism “Get out while you still can!”) so make sure to check out his blog, where he writes about CAA football (grrr) and, of course, Scrubs.

Email Jerry at or follow Defiantly Dutch at

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Likely demise of the Big East is likely big news for Hofstra

When the dominoes stop falling, odds are good the Atlantic 10 will be Hofstra's new athletic home.

This gives me an alibi five, 10 or 15 Septembers from now, when we’re all sitting around with our robotic overlords waxing poetic about where we were when college basketball as we knew it began changing. Now I can say I was at my laptop writing a piece about how it would impact Hofstra instead of declaring I was watching “Gilmore Girls” on something called a SoapNet, which may actually end up outlasting the current incarnation of the Big East.

Shut up. In the words of Chris Turk: “Mothers and daughters: They speak so fast but they speak so true.”

Anyway, the news Saturday afternoon that Pittsburgh and Syracuse have applied for membership in the Atlantic Coast Conference and that they will be welcomed into the ACC as soon as today is finally the domino for which we’ve been waiting to fall. The inevitable, football-fueled renovation of Division I in which four superconferences lord over everyone else has begun.

There will be a lot of speculation over how the new Division I will look, an exercise in which we will gladly partake very soon, as well as a lot of lamenting over how today represents the end of the innocence for college athletics. There will be none of that here.

Is the college sports landscape changing for the worse? Of course. Is it disappointing that money trumps tradition? Of course. But money has run the world since the dawn of time, so it’s just wasted pixels to wail and moan over how wrong it will be to see Jim Boeheim, who was dourly stalking the sideline at Syracuse before there was even a Big East, in unfamiliar arenas in Durham and Chapel Hill and Miami (snicker snicker snort snort).

And college athletics hasn’t been innocent in decades. The good ol’ black and white days featured point shaving at the Mecca. Sam Gilbert paved the way for the Nevin Shapiros of the world even as John Wooden constructed a dynasty and an impeccable reputation at UCLA. The world has always been impure and it will keep turning. A generation from now someone will bemoan how wrong it is that Syracuse or Pitt left its ACC tradition behind to join the Big 120. Spare me.

Now for the good stuff: How this all shakes out and how, in particular, it impacts Hofstra. What, you thought I cared about the Big East all of a sudden? While most of the talk about the superconferences has been centered on what would happen once the Big XII blew up, for our purposes, we’ve only focused on the Big East and how it would shape Hofstra’s future.

Had the Big East been a proactive force in creating the four superconferences, it would have meant more purgatory for Hofstra. Now that the Big East is about to be picked apart like a Thanksgiving turkey on Black Friday, there’s an endgame resolution in sight that gets Hofstra out of the Southern Bias Conference.

People smarter than me—line forms to the left—insist this process will take years to unfold and that there’s no guarantee the Big East is done as a football/basketball powerhouse. As usual, I will insist that people smarter than me are wrong.

This time though I might be right, because if there’s one thing we can all agree upon, it’s that these conference changes aren’t going to drag out. It took 21 months for Boston College to leave the Big East for the ACC. My guess, with the stakes even higher during this round of realignment, is that Pittsburgh and Syracuse will be in the ACC next fall along with two other schools. The Pac-12 will be the Pac-16, the SEC will also have 16 teams and the Big 10 will be coming up with a new design that subliminally reminds us its names is very, very inaccurate.

The Big East barely had a football pulse with Pitt and Syracuse. It’s possible the league will still try and maintain its BCS standing by poaching a chunk of what is left of the Big XII, but according to my admittedly meager math skills, 64 does not divide equally into five. The ACC just finished off the Big East.

Who knows which of the BCS schools ends up where, but for Hofstra’s purposes, the path to the Atlantic 10—at least from where I sit, where I am, again, just having some fun speculating—just got a lot clearer. Here’s a three-step process that finally gets Hofstra into the conference it has longed after for decades.

1.) The A-10 will be targeted by the non-football Big East schools, which will look to strengthen what will still be one of the best basketball leagues in the country. The following is also an almost perfect alignment because every school but one is a Catholic university:

Dayton (A-10)
Saint Louis (A-10)
Temple (A-10)
Xavier (A-10)
Notre Dame
St. John’s
Seton Hall

2.) The current A-10 alignment will take another hit when the CAA finally quits with the Boston-to-Atlanta charade and solidifies itself as a Virginia-based, mid-Atlantic behemoth by taking two A-10 schools—including the school that jumpstarted the whole round of conference realignment that landed Hofstra in the CAA in the first place—and a Southern Conference school. This also further cements the CAA as the best Division I-AA conference in the land.

Charlotte (A-10)
Richmond (A-10)
Appalachian State (Southern Conference)
George Mason
Georgia State
James Madison
UNC Wilmington
Old Dominion
William & Mary

3.) The Atlantic 10, now down to eight, invites the CAA’s three northern outsiders as well as Boston University, whose long-term home has long been tied to Northeastern’s. This also keeps the Atlantic 10 located ENTIRELY along the Atlantic seaboard—what a concept!—which will be no small consideration as the recession enters its second decade.

Drexel (CAA)
Northeastern (CAA)
Boston U. (America East)
George Washington
Rhode Island
St. Bonaventure
Saint Joseph’s

At the very least, this new alignment makes for some juicy immediate rivalries. Imagine getting to see Chaz Williams and Halil Kanacevic at least once a year, or Tom Pecora twice a year. And I’d love to see what the Northeastern student section would come up with to greet Duquesne and ex-NU coach Ron Everhart, who famously took everything to Pittsburgh with him except the bathroom sinks at Matthews Arena.

Of course, there are many wrinkles to this plan. Notre Dame probably ends up in the Big 10 if it decides to give up independence in football. Some of the CAA schools may be lured by the idea of playing lower-level I-A football, which seems like an awful, awful idea if all the power will be consolidated in the four superconferences. But it could happen, which would turn a place like Conference USA into a potential destination for the likes of Old Dominion, James Madison and Georgia State.

The last step—and the only one we care about—is fraught with complications. I doubt very much Fordham has any interest in welcoming Hofstra to the A-10, and in the past the A-10 has been about as interested in Hofstra as the homecoming queen was in me 20-odd years ago.

But the A-10 may be in survival mode in a matter of days and weeks and have no choice but to welcome some new dance partners to the floor. Boston College’s departure to the ACC in 2003 unleashed a torrent of realignment in just a matter of months. By November, the Big East had lured six schools from Conference USA while Charlotte and Saint Louis agreed to leave C-USA for the A-10.

The dominoes are going to fall even quicker this time around. My suggestion, if you’ve been putting off a trip to Richmond for the CAA Tournament, is to book that trip now. Because if I was a betting man—you’ll get that analogy in a second!—I’d wager that by March 2013, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll only have to go to Atlantic City to see Hofstra in its conference tournament.

Email Jerry at or follow Defiantly Dutch at

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Never Forget

The phone rang a few minutes before 9 a.m. 10 years ago this morning. As usual at such an early (for me) hour, I slept through the first few rings, and by the time I answered the phone the caller had already hung up. I looked at the caller ID and was a bit bemused why my college roommate John was calling me at this unusual time of day.

I was going to roll over and go back to sleep but I had to be up shortly to meet a freelance client, so I figured I’d call Tom and make sure we were still on schedule. He answered, I said hello.

“Are you watching TV?” he asked.

That was the first hint something was not right. I put on the TV, saw the Twin Towers with gaping, fiery holes and realized why John was calling: Our friend Greg worked in one of the Twin Towers.

I called John, whose voice was filled with an urgency and a worry I’d never heard before. He was trying to get in touch with anyone who might have spoken to Greg so that John could call back Greg’s Mom and let her know he was safe.

The next hour or so was spent fielding and making phone calls. Another friend John needed me to call his parents in California to let them know he was OK—he worked in a government building in Brooklyn—and that he was heading home as soon as possible. At some point I called my Dad, because at that point I felt like I was 27 going on seven and I needed to know everything was going to be OK, even though I knew our definition of OK had just changed forever.

My Dad provided some measure comfort, at least until the plane crashed into the Pentagon and his demeanor grew far more somber. “Well shit,” he said. “I guess I should go watch this.”

Another good friend from college, Rob, worked in the Pentagon (I later found out he only had Pentagon access, that he didn’t work full-time there). At some point I raced for the bathroom, unsure which end of my body was going to release itself first.

Tom and I, each in a complete daze, eventually agreed to meet at a gas station by my house so that I could give him my suddenly meaningless assignment. We gazed at the cruelly blue sky as we stood next to each other on an unusually warm September day.

“This is our Pearl Harbor,” he said.

On the way home I heard the second of the Twin Towers fall on the radio. “The Twin Towers…ARE GONE,” said WPLJ’s Todd Pettengill.

Shortly after I got home I found out Greg was fine, that he was walking to work at 7 World Trade Center when the attacks happened and that he ended up at a friend’s apartment in the city. I drove to the office of the weekly newspaper I was working at in Suffolk—I’d just taken a job as the sports editor—and ended up talking to Greg for one of the stories in our Thursday edition. There was no sports section Thursday.

Around mid-afternoon, I was overcome with an exhaustion I’d never felt before or since. I could barely keep my eyes open. It would be weeks before I could sleep normally again, and months before I didn’t wake up with a sense of dread every Tuesday morning.

I drove home around sunset and passed by a group of little kids riding their bikes in the street. I wished I was that young again, and was glad I wasn’t, because I knew those kids would never have the childhood I had. How old are they now? Seventeen, eighteen? They don’t know of a world in which every little hiccup—a power outage or the sound of far-off sirens or a breaking news bulletin—doesn’t automatically conjure up images of terrorism. All they know is a world in which no horror is unimaginable.

It’s hard to believe it’s 10 years today, and how much more recent Sept. 11, 2001 feels than Sept. 10, 2001.

Somehow, miraculously, nobody I knew died in the terrorist attacks. Never forget the 2,977 who did, including the 13 Hofstra graduates who perished at the World Trade Center: Lt. Glenn Wilkinson, Frederick Varrachi, Neil Levin, Alisha Levin, Edward Mardovich, Andrew Stern, Courtney Walcott, Alok Menta, Jeffrey Dingle, Richard Fitzsimmons, Noell Maerz, Glenn Winuk and Julie Lynne Zipper.

Email Jerry at or follow Defiantly Dutch at

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

In which I take the occasion of Jeremy Kniffin’s departure to pay homage to a good friend & good PR person

This is for the next time Jeremy needs to know who sang this song. I am the music trivia champion! I'm number one! I'm number one!

In my long and storied (snort) career as a sportswriter, the teams I covered have more often than not been saddled with media relations directors whose specialty seemed to be making my life as miserable as possible. I won’t name all the lousy ones, both due to space considerations and the well-being of the aforementioned career (ha! I make me laugh).

I will say, though, that three of those atypically excellent media relations directors reside right now in the Swim Center at Hofstra. By nightfall tonight, only two will still call Hofstra home, and so I come here this morning to offer a tip of the cap and good wishes to Jeremy Kniffin, the longtime men’s basketball contact who, after almost 12 years at Hofstra, is leaving tomorrow to become the head SID at Pomona College in California.

While Jeremy arrived at Hofstra a few months before the Flying Dutchmen (who really were the Flying Dutchmen back then) won the first of back-to-back America East championships, I had few interactions with him prior to starting Defiantly Dutch in 2008. In the couple months before basketball season started, I realized I wanted to do more than just rant and rave from my couch—I wanted to try and interview Tom Pecora too.

Alas, I was conditioned to the behavior of PR people who thought the Internet was an evil fad that would just fade away and sporting entities that had zero interest in credentialing an online outlet that didn’t also double as one of its gatekeepers (if you don’t believe me, try requesting a pass to a Major League Baseball game as a writer for a website other than So it was with minimal expectations and bated breath that I sent an interview request to Jeremy shortly before the 2008-09 season opener.

Yet Jeremy almost immediately wrote me back and invited me to practice to conduct the first DD Q&A. There were a few Q&As that first year, including one Jeremy set up for me on the bus ride back home after the one-point loss to Old Dominion in the CAA quarterfinals. There were a whole helluva lot more Q&As the next two seasons as Defiantly Dutch turned into this wonderfully unwieldy beast.

Over that time, I came to appreciate the professionalism and friendship he displayed despite a demanding and often thankless job. While most professional sports teams as well as BCS schools are self-sustaining news machines who do their best to minimize coverage, mid-major SIDs can’t get enough publicity to satisfy their bosses. Last year, when Charles Jenkins was his own one-man self-sustaining news machine, was the aberration: Jeremy spent a whole lot of time working to get the Flying Dutchmen some publicity via a short feature story in the newspaper or a 90-second clip on television.

Despite all the inherent challenges as well as the long nights, early mornings and tedious bus rides involved in the year-round grind (Jeremy was also the men’s and women’s soccer contact in the fall and the softball contact in the spring) he never let any of it get to him or affect his work. Jeremy maintained the dry sense of humor necessary for such a gig and was incredibly efficient with his game notes and recaps—in his book “Cinderella,” your good friend and mine Mike Litos preserved forever just how quickly after the final buzzer Jeremy produced a recap and boxscore—while also remaining loyal to Hofstra and the ideals of media relations without ever approaching insufferable or sanctimonious.

If Jeremy knew any state secrets, they never exited his lips. Press row and press conferences were sacred places to Jeremy, and as long as you treated those places with the respect they deserved, Jeremy would treat you with respect right back.

He would even understand and forgive that the most well-meaning of people could make mistakes. I thought I was a pretty big shot back in April 2010, when I tracked down Halil Kanacevic via Facebook and interviewed him after he announced he was planning to transfer from Hofstra. Never did I think to contact Jeremy to let him know I’d interviewed Kanacevic—I was used to covering Major League Baseball, where you just ask a guy for his phone number or email address at the end of the season in case you need to contact him over the winter.

The morning the Kanacevic piece ran, I texted Jeremy asking him about something unrelated. He wrote back almost immediately, as usual, but with a gentle yet stern admonishment that the proper protocol would have been to give him a heads up that I was going to speak to Kanacevic so that he and his bosses could be aware of it instead of learning about it upon arriving at the office.

I felt awful—while I realized I wouldn’t get Kanacevic by requesting an interview via Jeremy (understandably so), I never, ever intended to put him into a potentially uncomfortable position with his superiors. Many PR people would consider such a breach of conduct irreversible and unforgiveable, especially those who immediately bestow upon newcomers a two-strike count—or, more accurately, a 2 9/10th strike count.

Jeremy, though, accepted my apology with no conditions or second thoughts. In fact, after about two texts, we were laughing about it. There were a lot of laughs in the countless emails and text messages we exchanged as well as in our similar amount of courtside and office conversations about hoops as well as ‘80s music (the video above is to remind Jeremy of Naked Eyes’ biggest hit). There were also some very funny Facebook wall posts, because Jeremy is a hilarious, third-person-typing-kind-of-guy on Facebook. It didn’t hurt that we’re both from Connecticut—and as such were the only ones on each other’s friends list who associated Brooklyn with a small town in eastern Connecticut—and think Heathers is the greatest movie ever made.

In typical Jeremy fashion, he’s exiting Hofstra and entering Pomona in a fashion that defines low-key professionalism. He starts at Pomona Friday. Most of us would take a week to begin a new job down the road and Jeremy is finishing one job, flying cross country and beginning his new one in a span of less than 48 hours.

Why? Because he’s basically starting the sports information department there from scratch and wants to get going as soon as possible. I hope Pomona College knows how lucky it is, and I hope Hofstra knows how lucky it was.

Email Jerry at or follow Defiantly Dutch at

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

In which I briefly & belatedly mark DD's anniversary before an exhaustive & self-referential look at the MBB schedule

If MTV still existed, and Adam Curry still worked there, then he definitely would have given Defiantly Dutch a shoutout on our third birthday!

If you’ve been visiting these parts for some or all of the past three years, you’ve learned a few indelible truths about yours truly. One is that I manage to combine horrible organizational skills with an unnatural ability to retain dates, facts, memorabilia and other minutiae regarding the history of Hofstra sports (or at least the history of Hofstra sports dating back to when I began paying attention, which, if ESPN and MTV have taught me anything, is when history actually began).

For example: I know the third anniversary of Defiantly Dutch was Aug. 25, but it came and went without a post. Until now! Whee! Happy anniversary to me! Thank you all for reading! And now that I have knowingly let the big day come and go without acknowledgment, I feel terrible shame and guilt. I’m an idiot.

Another is that I’m old, especially compared to the disrespectful smart-mouthed whippersnappers I have befriended on Twitter (except my bitter blogging rival Gary Moore—he’s older than me people! By parts of two decades!). As a result, I not only remember when people read newspapers, but when people of power would time bad news so that it was released late on a Friday because the Saturday newspaper had by far the lowest readership and circulation of the week.

And so it is that my first instinct, upon learning the Flying Dutchmen basketball schedule was FINALLY released on Friday—when most people had already checked out for Labor Day weekend—was to wonder what bad news was buried within. Were we playing Farmingdale State or another Division III school six times? Had we joined the CBI Conference, in which nobody knows who or where in the bloody hell they are playing until the night before the game? Were we spending the entire season on the road because the Arena was in the midst of year-long preparations for the 2012 presidential debate?

Of course it was nothing like that, and the schedule came out on the Friday of Labor Day weekend because that’s when it was ready to go. Why it takes so long, I have no idea. I do know, though, that if Hofstra had released the schedule a week or two earlier during a boffo prime-time telecast on Hofstra Television, I would have been honked off because I hate schools and leagues turning the release of a schedule into an epic three-part miniseries.

See, that’s another side effect of being old: You’re annoyed about everything. Hofstra didn’t make a big enough deal about the men’s basketball schedule. Hofstra made too big a deal about the men’s basketball schedule. There’s no in-between for us geezers. If she made it to middle age, Goldilocks never would have found a porridge that was just right.

Yet another side effect: Senseless rambling.

Anyway, the schedule is out, and after sitting in my recliner and carefully and rationally examining it the past 96 hours (I’m kidding. I got up to use the bathroom a couple times), I am 2,000 percent certain that we’re going undefeated this year. Or at least 39-1.

But seriously, folks, as usual, the release of the men’s basketball schedule brings with it the belief it is both challenging and one that sets the Dutchmen up for success. This is, as always, doubly true for the non-conference schedule, which this year includes six games against schools that advanced to postseason play last year—two NCAA participants, two NIT participant, one CIT participant and one It That Shall Not Be Named participant.

But five of those games are either at home or at true neutral sites. The Dutchmen will host reigning Northeast Conference champion Long Island University (which is actually in Brooklyn—this blew my mind when I was, like, seven years old) in the regular season opener Nov. 11 and will play defending America East champion Boston University (now coached by former Hofstra assistant Joe Jones) in the Legends Classic at the University of Rhode Island on Nov. 27.

The game against Boston U. will be the Dutchmen’s fourth in the Legends Classic and their third in as many days. The Dutchmen will face host fellow 2011 CBI refugee Rhode Island, the former school of starting Hofstra point guard Stevie Meija, on Nov. 25 (the day after Thanksgiving) and 2011 NIT participant Cleveland State (whose former coach, Rollie Massimino, brought with him to UNLV as assistants a couple of young’uns named Jay Wright and Tom Pecora) the next day.

The Dutchmen will start play in the Legends Classic on Nov. 16 at Oregon State. Why at Oregon State and why the 11-day gap in between tournament games, during which the Dutchmen will host St. Francis Nov. 19 and 2011 NIT participant Florida Atlantic Nov. 22? Because it’s the Gazelle Group, that’s why!

Anyway, the Dutchmen’s only long road trip of the non-conference schedule will be for that Legends Classic opener. While Oregon State is the lone BCS school on the Hofstra schedule, the Beavers are coming off an 11-20 season and have recorded just one winning record in the last 21 years. But hey they won the inaugural CBI in 2008! So taking on Oregon State (which is coached by Craig Robinson, who is the brother-in-law of President Obama, whose path to the presidency was fueled by his appearance at the debate at Hofstra—yes, I can tie any school on the schedule to Hofstra in six degrees or less, just try me) gives the Dutchmen a seemingly decent shot at their first win over a BCS opponent since St. John’s in 2006-07.

Once the calendar turns to December, the Dutchmen won’t leave the five boroughs and will play just one game away from the Arena. The Dutchmen host James Madison in the look-but-don’t-touch CAA opener Dec. 3, the first time Hofstra doesn’t play Towson in its December conference game since 2007-08 (UNC Wilmington). James Madison is a good December game for a Dutchmen team in transition since the Dukes will be without point guard Devon Moore for the entire first semester. Plus, the Dutchmen always beat the Dukes, usually in thrilling fashion—like here, here and here!

The Dutchmen take their lone road trip of December Dec. 6, when they travel across the Verrazano to take on Wagner. The Seahawks gave the Dutchmen all they could handle last season and should be among the Northeast Conference favorites after Dan Hurley recruited another impressive class of newcomers.

The Dutchmen round out 2011 with four straight home games, the first three of which—against Manhattan Dec. 10, Binghamton Dec. 17 and Colgate Dec. 22—look eminently winnable on paper. Manhattan is rebuilding after firing coach Barry Rohrssen, Binghamton is still recovering from starting from scratch after scandal ripped apart the program following its NCAA Tournament appearance in 2009 and Colgate is coming off a 7-23 season and has recorded just two winning records in the last 15 years.

Iona, coached by ex-Hofstra player Tim Cluess, coming off an impressive season in which the Gaels lost in the CIT championship game and heading into a season in which they should be the consensus favorite to win the MAAC, visits Hofstra on Dec. 29. I’m not worried at all about this game, since nothing bad ever happens when Hofstra plays Iona in December. Just like it didn’t happen here and here.

As usual, the CAA schedule gets underway with a flurry of games right after New Year’s Day. The “three-in-six” for Hofstra will be particularly challenging this year as the Dutchmen open real CAA play by hosting VCU Jan. 2. The Rams did OK last year, when they inspired us all to believe in fairness and goodness in sports by becoming the school to ever reach the Final Four by winning five games, after which Shaka Smart signed a new contract that made him the BMOC in the CAA and inspired ex-BMOC Jim Larranaga to take his basketball and faux good guy schtick and stomp off to Miami to get his ass kicked on a regular basis in the ACC. That really happened, didn’t it?

After that, the Dutchmen head to the road to take on improving Delaware Jan. 4 and dangerous UNC Wilmington Jan. 7. That’s the first of three two-game road trips for the Dutchmen, who have just one two-game homestand during CAA play.

This initially led me to believe the schedule was made with the idea of screwing over Pecora. But two of the three multi-game trips—and the two trips that take the Dutchmen furthest south—occur during Intersession (at James Madison and at VCU Jan. 21-23), which means the Dutchmen shouldn’t have to worry about getting back to school in between games. The other two-game road trip is Feb. 8-11 at George Mason (hi guys!) and Drexel, but the Dutchmen will presumably bus back from Fairfax and be on campus in the early morning hours of Feb. 9.

Then again, after returning home from UNC Wilmington, the Dutchmen host our friends from Northeastern in Barone Bowl I on Jan. 11, visit Old Dominion on Jan. 14 and return to face Drexel Jan. 18. And after the back-to-back games in Virginia, Hofstra hosts George Mason Jan. 25 before visiting Northeastern in Barone Bowl II Jan. 28 (forecast: 270 inches of snow). Hmm. Tasking Hofstra with all that travel and all those demanding, physical games in a row seems inherently unfair—an example of Southern Bias, even!

Anyway, a lot can change in the next five months, but February looks like it will present the Dutchmen with another opportunity to make a late-season surge. It begins with that two-game homestand against a pair of rebuilding squads in Towson and Georgia State before the Dutchmen head off to visit likely co-CAA favorites George Mason and Drexel (UNFAIR!!!). The Dutchmen host Delaware in a possible ECC title game Feb. 14 (hopefully none of their fans get food poisoning up here) before greeting someone in the Bracket Buster Feb. 18. Oh yay. A Bracket Buster involving two teams that almost surely won’t be on the NCAA Tournament bubble. Yawn.

The Dutchmen complete the regular season by visiting our friends (and hilarious Tweeters) at William & Mary and taking on the incredibly scary Tribe Feb. 22 (sonofagun, you mean I have to wait until the penultimate game to dip into my Scrubs bag of tricks?) before returning to the Arena to play UNC Wilmington in the finale Feb. 25. And a week later at the ever-lovable Richmond Coliseum, the top-seeded Dutchmen will record the first of the three wins they need to become CAA champions!

Or not, I don’t know. Declaring a transitional Dutchmen team will win the CAA might be crazy, but it’s not as crazy as writing 1,800 words about the release of the schedule. Is this what it’s like to be a college football fan in the south? Good thing Nov. 5—the date of the exhibition game against Queens College—is only 60 days away. No, I didn’t mention the exhibition game. I’m not insane, you know.

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