Friday, November 30, 2012

Dutchmen quartet arrested, suspended

Two weeks ago, the Flying Dutchmen produced one of the most memorable regular season weekends in recent history by sweeping South Dakota State, District of Columbia and Marshall—three teams likely to reach the NCAA Tournament, albeit in two different divisions—and authored what the first signature moment in this new era of Hofstra basketball.

It was likely the last, at least for this season.

Newsday reported this morning that four Hofstra players—sophomore Shaquille Stokes and freshmen Jimmy Hall, Kentrell Washington and Dallas Anglin—were arrested yesterday on multiple counts of burglary. Per a university press release, all four players have been suspended immediately from the team and school.

The incidents occurred on campus between Oct. 4 and Nov. 5. According to Newsday, Stokes was arrested on five counts of second-degree burglary and Hall was charged with four counts. Washington was arrested on two counts of second-degree burglary and Anglin was charged with one count. The players are scheduled to be arraigned today at First District Court in Hempstead.

The indefinite suspensions will cripple the Dutchmen. Hall earned comparisons, now sadly apt, to Kenny Adeleke by emerging as a nightly double-double threat as a freshman and was already the Dutchmen’s best player (12.7 ppg, 9.7 rpg). Stokes was averaging 10 ppg, fourth-highest on the team, and hit clutch shots in the wins over South Dakota State and Marshall.

The Dutchmen’s already lean depth will take an unrecoverable blow as well. With Stephen Nwaukoni (personal) out the last two games and UConn transfer Jamal Coombs-McDaniel yet to play because of a knee injury, there’s a good chance the Dutchmen will take the floor against SMU tomorrow with a grand total of five scholarship players (seniors David Imes and Stevie Mejia, sophomores Moussa Kone and Taran Buie and freshman Jordan Allen) available.

The arrests are also a staggering blow for a program, an athletic department and a fan base that has absorbed plenty of punches in the last three years. This was supposed to be the season in which Mo Cassara began rebuilding a program decimated following the departure of Tom Pecora in 2010, and the early results were encouraging. To say he didn’t need this, with a new athletic director as well as a president who loathes any kind of bad publicity, is an understatement of the grandest order.

News of the arrests broke a mere three days before the third anniversary of Hofstra’s decision to kill football, which angered alums (you don’t say). There had been some hope that a new day had dawned over the last few months, during which the softball team came within a base hit of reaching the College World Series and the women’s soccer and volleyball teams reached the NCAA Tournament.

But this morning’s news prove that the black cloud still hangs above us and the fates are still pulling the football away every time Hofstra manages to mount a running start. Good grief.

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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Six semi-useful things to know: George Washington

1.) George Washington is 1-2, with a 72-59 win over Boston University in the Mike Jarvis Bowl sandwiched around an 80-73 loss to Youngstown State and a 65-48 loss to Notre Dame. The Colonials were 10-21 last year and were picked 13th in the 16-team Atlantic 10 (MISNOMER BIAS!) in this year’s preseason coaches poll. Their head coach is Mike Lonergan, in his second year at George Washington after six years at Vermont, where, after replacing the popular Tom Brennan, he led the Catamounts to one NCAA Tournament and two NITs.

2.) George Washington and Dutchmen have two common opponents this year: The Colonials face James Madison and Manhattan in consecutive games Nov. 28 and Dec. 2. The Colonials also visit VCU on Feb. 16. Ha ha better you than us!

3.) This is the second meeting between Hofstra and George Washington. Thirty years ago, the Flying Dutchmen—WHO WERE ACTUALLY KNOWN AS THE FLYING DUTCHMEN BACK THEN—beat the Colonials 82-67 in something called the Juice Bowl Tournament. Per GW’s game notes, the Dutchmen are the only CAA team against whom the Colonials have a losing record WHOO WHOO WE’RE NUMBER ONE! George Washington is 82-42 all-time against current members of the CAA, including 38-25 against William & Mary.

4.) The Dutchmen, meanwhile, are 32-95 all-time against current members of the A-10, with winning records against only George Washington and Duquesne (1-0). Damn! So close to Alanis-level irony. The bulk of the Dutchmen’s games against current A-10 schools have come against local rival Fordham and former ECC foes St. Joseph’s, Temple and LaSalle as well as that VCU team that used to play in the CAA. No, really, you could look it up.

5.) With three freshmen in their projected starting lineup, the Colonials have gone even younger than the Dutchmen. Like the Dutchmen with Jimmy Hall, George Washington has its conference’s reigning rookie of the week in freshman guard Joe McDonald, who is second on the Colonials in both scoring (11.3 ppg) and rebounding (5.3 rpg) behind 6-foot-9 senior forward Isaiah Armwood, who is averaging 12.0 ppg and 7.0 rpg.

6.) This is a big challenge for the Dutchmen, in a figurative as well as a literal sense (that’s for loyal reader @GSorensen, who loves the correct usage of the word “literal”). Mo Cassara was decidedly displeased with how the Dutchmen’s continued road struggles during Wednesday’s loss at Manhattan. The Dutchmen didn’t win a true non-conference road game last year (their lone non-conference win was over Cleveland State at Rhode Island) and haven’t won a non-conference road game at a school south of New Jersey under Cassara. But a win here, in less-than-optimal conditions (day off Thursday, travel day Friday, back after the game today), against a school from a big-time conference, would go a long way towards restoring the good vibes the Dutchmen generated last weekend. It won’t be easy, especially if Stephen Nwaukoni didn’t travel to D.C. with the team. The Colonials have three starters who stand at least 6-foot-5, but if Nwaukoni isn’t available, the Dutchmen will have next to no depth behind starters Hall, David Imes and Moussa Kone. Regardless of Nwaukoni’s availability, the Dutchmen will need to get far better shooting performances from their guards, who are shooting just 26.2 percent in road games.

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Manhattan 67, Hofstra 56 (Or: This coming and going is driving me nuts)

Just as Mo Cassara feared, the soaring Flying Dutchmen were grounded by a furious and overdue-for-a-win Manhattan squad Wednesday night, when the Jaspers beat the Dutchmen 67-56 in the Bronx (what’s up with that anyway, why isn’t there a Division I school called the Bronx in Manhattan?). Three days after the Dutchmen capped one of the most stirring regular season weekends in program history—and raised hopes for what looked to be another rebuilding season—we, and Cassara, were reminded there will be at least as many downs as ups this year as a young team undergoes the maturation process.

“I thought they were the more aggressive team and really jumped us early, as we really anticipated,” Cassara said at the post-game press conference. “We were a step slow tonight offensively and defensively.”

1.) Last night’s game evoked some of those bad memories of 2011-12 that we thought had been buried last weekend. After never trailing in regulation in consecutive wins over the University of District of Columbia and Marshall, the Dutchmen fell behind 13-2 last night and never led, though they did tie the game early in the second half. The Dutchmen were prone to suffering the untimely defensive breakdown: While the stats indicate they did a nice job of defending Manhattan along the 3-point arc (7-of-28), the Jaspers’ Michael Alvarado nailed three straight treys in a span of 3:09 late in the second half to fuel an 11-4 run that basically ended the game. Unable to complete a comeback and prone to late gaffes on defense that mar an otherwise solid performance? That sound you hear is anyone who saw a lot of Hofstra games last year shuddering.

2.) We were also reminded how thin the line is between precociousness and inexperience, and how quickly a seemingly deep team can be depleted. Moussa Kone, who emerged in the first two weeks as part of a 1-2 frontcourt punch we’ve rarely if ever seen at Hofstra, had no points and one rebound in 28 minutes and punctuated the tough loss by missing a layup with 14 seconds to play. But with Stephen Nwaukoni unavailable for unspecified reasons, and David Imes fighting foul trouble during an otherwise solid game (six points, nine rebounds), Cassara had little choice but to leave Kone out there and hope he snapped out of it. Along those lines: Last night marked the first time this season that only seven players played as many as 13 minutes.

3.) With the loss, the Dutchmen fell to 0-3 on the road, a disconcerting development for anyone who saw last year’s squad go 2-12 in road or neutral site games. And for the third time in as many road games, the Dutchmen fell behind big, came back to make it competitive but ended up routed down the stretch.

“We’ve got to find a way to get tougher and win on the road,” Cassara said. “We were very good at home this weekend where we’re comfortable. When we’re not comfortable, we’re not quite tough enough physically or mentally to win on the road. And this is going to be a big challenge for this young group.”

In addition, the Dutchmen guards—and Shaq Stokes in particular—once again struggled from the field on the road. Dutchmen guards were 10-of-28 shooting, a mark that was considerably impacted by Stokes’ 2-of-10 performance. Hofstra guards are shooting 26.2 percent on the road (22-of-84) and 41.3 percent (45-of-109) at home.

The good thing is Cassara feels much more comfortable being direct with this group than he was last year, when he often felt as if he had to speak in coaching tongues about the issues that haunted the Dutchmen. And it’s also good the Dutchmen will get another opportunity right away to try and record a win on a hurried road trip: After wolfing down some turkey and pumpkin pie today, the Dutchmen will head to Washington D.C. to take on George Washington on Saturday afternoon.

4.) There was some good news last night. Jimmy Hall remained in beast mode by collecting the third double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds) of his young college career. His numbers through six games (14.3 ppg, 9.7 rpg) compare very favorably to those of Kenny Adeleke, the best homegrown big man Hofstra has had in the Defiantly Dutch Era, through the same period in 2001-02 (15.8 ppg, 7.7 rpg).

Taran Buie continued to provide instant offense and a sustainable surge off the bench. Buie missed his first shot of the game for the first time as a Dutchman, but he scored a career-high 22 points, including seven unanswered in a 2:13 span in the first half to begin the Dutchmen’s first run. Is he turning into the Dutchmen’s version of Chris Fouch, someone who provides loads of offense in a reserve role?

And Dallas Anglin may have begun to regain his confidence when he drained both his shots, including a 3-pointer, after entering the game in the final four minutes. Anglin had as many field goals in two attempts last night as he did in 24 attempts in his first four games.

5.) STAT AND MINUTIAE FUN! For the third straight year, the winning team in the Hofstra-Manhattan game never trailed. The Dutchmen, alas, are just 1-2 in those games, losing last year and winning in 2010…The Dutchmen also went almost wire-to-wire in their 44-39 win over the Jaspers in December 2009…The Dutchmen are 3-3 for the fourth straight year and the 24th time in program history…The Dutchmen fell to 0-5 all-time against Manhattan when Stephen Gorchov is with the team in an official capacity. Gorchov, the new men’s basketball SID, was the team manager in all four of his undergraduate years from 1992-1996. GORCHOV HEX! (In the interest of fairness, he notes Hofstra has won in plenty of other sports when he has represented the school in an official capacity)

3 STARS OF THE GAME (vs. Manhattan 11/21)
3: Taran Buie
2: Jimmy Hall
1: David Imes

13: Jimmy Hall
5: Taran Buie
5: Stevie Mejia
4: Moussa Kone
4: Shaq Stokes
3: Stephen Nwaukoni
2: David Imes

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Five semi-useful things to know: Manhattan

1.) Manhattan is 0-2, with losses to a pair of pretty good teams in Louisville and Harvard. The Jaspers, who return all five starters from last year’s team that went 21-13 under then-rookie head coach Steve Masiello, were picked to finish second in the MAAC in the preseason coaches’ poll. Manhattan should get a big boost tonight with the return of reigning MAAC scoring champion George Beamon, who missed the first two games of the season with an ankle injury.

2.) Manhattan is Hofstra’s most frequent non-conference foe, by far. This is the 61st all-time meeting between the teams dating all the way back to the second game of Hofstra’s second season in 1937-38, the third-most games Hofstra has played against any opponent behind just Delaware and Drexel. Manhattan leads the series 38-22 and beat the Dutchmen 68-59 at Hofstra last year. This is the seventh straight year the two teams have met, which makes it Hofstra’s longest active non-conference series.

3.) Manhattan is the only MAAC school Hofstra is scheduled to face this year, the first time since 2005-06 the Dutchmen have faced only one MAAC foe. That year, the Dutchmen actually weren’t scheduled to face anyone from the MAAC but drew Siena in the Bracketbuster. Thank goodness we don’t have to worry about THAT anymore!

4.) This is a dangerous game for the Dutchmen, who are justifiably feeling pretty good about themselves after stunningly winning three games in as many days at home last weekend. Manhattan is in the spot the Dutchmen were in just five days ago—0-2 and mad—and Mo Cassara recognized on Sunday the task ahead of the Dutchmen tonight.

“They’re 0-2 sitting on us, just like we were 0-2 sitting on South Dakota State,” Cassara said. “So they’re going to be hungry.”

5.) The Dutchmen unveiled a pretty sturdy eight-man rotation against Marshall on Sunday, when Jimmy Hall, David Imes. Moussa Kone, Stevie Mejia, Shaq Stokes and reserves Taran Buie and Stephen Nwaukoni combined to play 186 of 200 minutes in regulation before Kentrell Washington provided some much-needed depth (and free throws) in the second overtime. Washington looks to have settled into a reliable role as a backup guard-of-all-trades, so it’ll be interesting to see if Jordan Allen, who played just nine minutes on Sunday, gets more time and if Dallas Anglin, who recorded the first DNP-CD of his career, gets another shot to find his, uhh, shot.

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Hofstra 103, Marshall 100 (Or: There’s a light where the darkness ends)

Mo Cassara plopped himself down at the podium late Sunday afternoon and promptly realized he was just as stuck for adjectives as those seated before him.

“Get it started with a statement,” Hofstra sports info guru Brian Bohl said.

Cassara rubbed his right eye with his right hand before pulling his right hand down and rubbing both eyes and the bridge of his nose.

“If you can,” Bohl said.

Finally Cassara came up with some words to begin describing what he’d just seen: The Flying Dutchmen’s 103-100 double overtime victory over Marshall that will be remembered as one of the greatest regular season basketball games ever played at Calkins Hall, the PFC, the Arena or whatever building my beautiful daughter Molly (the sleeping good luck charm who is now 3-0 in home games) sees the Dutchmen in come the fall of 2030.

“What a difference a week makes, you know?” Cassara said with a tired laugh. “A week ago right now we’re 0-2, we’re in West Lafayette, Indiana, we couldn’t make a basket. We lost two games by 29 points. We were just almost in disarray, if that’s a word I could use to describe us. Credit to these guys, I’ve never seen a team in a week come back and play the way that we did.

“So proud of our guys. What an incredible win. To complete a 3-0 weekend is almost a marvel.”

It was one of those games which demands context and appreciation, even if the facts and the stats say more than any pontifications from a wordy windbag ever could. So why don’t we start there?

1.) Less than 24 hours after the Dutchmen put six players into double figures for the first time since I started paying attention—that’s a long time—they had four players with at least 14 points and two more with nine apiece. The Dutchmen never trailed in regulation but squandered a 12-point lead in the final 6:57 and surrendered a pair of game-tying 3-pointers in the final 91 seconds, including Elijah Pittman’s open 3-pointer that forced overtime with seven seconds left. The Dutchmen finally fell behind by three more than midway through the first overtime, crawled back to tie the game with three free throws 56 seconds apart and held Marshall scoreless the rest of the period (and survived three missed shots, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer). Shaq Stokes (more on him shortly) scored the first six points of overtime as the Dutchmen never trailed, but Marshall got within a basket an incredible four times in the final minute. Freshman Kentrell Washington, who played just nine minutes in regulation, drained three of four free throws in the last 38 seconds before Stokes put the Dutchmen over 100 against a Division I opponent for the first time in 21 seasons with four free throws in the final seven seconds.

There were 69 total fouls, 99 free throws attempted, 143 field goals attempted and 203 total points (duh) as both teams reached the century mark for the first time in Hofstra history. Four players fouled out, and at one point, Marshall had five players on the court with five fouls. The Thundering Herd’s DeAndre Kane had a triple-double in defeat (33 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists).

It was awesome to watch, if a bit nerve-wracking to participate in as a player or a coach.

“I’m shot,” Moussa Kone said.

“I’m 23,” Stevie Mejia said. “I’m finished.”

“I tell you what, I’m exhausted,” Cassara said earlier. “I mean, I’m exhausted. There were more end of game situations in that game than I’ve ever been a part of. We had an opportunity to foul in regulation, we didn’t, we gave up a three. We lost our man on a switch and in overtime they hit another three. So I’m over there killing myself.”

2.) Jimmy Hall had his second double-double in five collegiate games, and it was even better than the boxscore would indicate. He had 10 rebounds alone in the first half, as the Dutchmen asserted themselves against the far bigger Thundering Herd, and finished with 14 boards and 16 points in an amazing 44 minutes. This is a FRESHMAN playing 44 minutes 15 days after he was benched for the first half OF AN EXHIBITION. for goodness sakes. We haven’t seen a freshmen big man like this since Kenny Adeleke, and if you root for Hofstra, join us in praying we aren’t discussing Adeleke similarities when Hall is a senior somewhere else.

And we haven’t seen a pair of underclassmen big men at Hofstra like Hall and Moussa Kone since, well, ever. Kone also had a double-double (14 points and 10 rebounds) before fouling out. He has matched or exceeded his freshman year high in points (six) four times and matched or exceeded last year’s high in rebounds (nine) twice. All caveats about small sample sizes apply, but through five games, Hall and Kone are averaging a combined 21.6 points and 16.4 rebounds per game. Hello.

3.) The misery of last year only makes it seem like forever since the Dutchmen had a player as clutch as Stokes. The statistical revolution in sports has led to much debate about clutch play and how it is impossible to measure. Maybe so, but the eyes don’t lie, and Stokes has the Jenkins and Speedy clutch gene. Who else would find his legs in the second overtime, after shooting 4-of-17 in the first 45 minutes, and score 10 points in the SECOND overtime and drain seven of eight free throws, thereby making up for missing the free throw in the final minute of regulation that likely would have sealed the victory? All less than 48 hours after draining a game-winning 3-pointer with three seconds to play? Everything is going so well, I fully expect the NCAA to declare he has to go back to Hawaii at any moment.

4.) The Dutchmen have now won two games they would have lost last year, when they were (as you no doubt know and/or remember by now) 1-4 in games decided by three points or less and 2-8 in games decided by six points or less. Better depth is surely a factor (eight players have played at least 13 minutes in all five games, something that happened just six times all of last season) but the Dutchmen have the intestinal fortitude and intangibles they lacked a year ago. Last season’s team loses this game because it couldn’t get the momentum back late in the second half (the first game against James Madison), or because it missed key free throws late (the first game against Delaware) or because it suffered breakdowns on every defensive possession down the stretch (pick a loss, any loss). This year’s team has a bunch of players—Hall, Stokes and Taran Buie, the latter of whom hit his first shot of the game for the third straight game) clearly have that edge that infuses the Dutchmen with a layer of late-game toughness, as does Mejia, who is finally healthy and able to impart his will upon the team. Mejia scored a career-high 22 points and earned sub-regional MVP honors

“When you have three games in three days, guys are tired, and you could just see the physical and the mental exhaustion,” Cassara said. “To be honest with you, we were in a little better shape and we were able to kind of hang in there and get some fouls down the stretch and get to the line. How about Kentrell Washington stepping up and hitting three out of four free throws as a true freshman who didn’t play very many minutes?”

5.) Some more stats and minutiae: The Dutchmen are 3-2 for the 23rd time in program history…Stokes’ 46 minutes were the most by a Dutchmen since Jenkins (49 minutes) and Cornelius Vines (48 minutes) were ironmen in the Dutchmen’s last double overtime game, a loss to Northeastern in the 2010 CAA Tournament. And Hall’s 44 minutes were the most by a freshman since Jenkins played 44 minutes against Manhattan in the second game of his career in 2007…The Dutchmen improved to 17-6 in overtime games and 5-2 in multi-overtime since the 2000-01 season…This was the second time in four years the Dutchmen have won an overtime game in which they didn’t trail UNTIL overtime. The Dutchmen edged UNC Wilmington in similar fashion in the 2008-09 regular season finale…Washington’s performance at the free throw line in the second overtime conjured up memories of Mike Davis-Sabb against James Madison in the Dutchmen’s most recent double-overtime win in February 2009. Because of disqualifications, Davis-Sabb was pressed into duty in the final minute of the second overtime after sitting since the first half and promptly drained two free throws to seal the game.

3 STARS OF THE GAME (vs. Marshall 11/17)
3: Jimmy Hall
2: Shaq Stokes
1: Stevie Mejia

11: Jimmy Hall
5: Stevie Mejia
4: Moussa Kone
4: Shaq Stokes
3: Stephen Nwaukoni
2: Taran Buie
1: David Imes

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Hofstra 74, University of District of Columbia 59 (Or: Keep on moving)

The Flying Dutchmen made some history and led wire-to-wire Saturday, but didn’t get to .500 in the most artful of fashions in their 74-59 win over Division II foe University of District of Columbia. But just getting to .500 was good enough for a team that six days earlier looked as if it might send certain stat dorks diving into media guides in search of the worst season-opening losing streak in program history.

“We’ve got Marshall at home [today], a NCAA Tournament-type team, a chance to win three games in a row,” Mo Cassara said. “If you would have told me that last Monday, I would have said you’re absolutely crazy.”

1.) This may have been the most balanced game ever played by a Hofstra basketball team. Six Dutchmen reached double figures—almost certainly the first time that’s happened in the Defiantly Dutch Era, I will research and report back to you ASAP—and all six scored between 11 and 13 points. Five players had between seven and nine rebounds. And six players played between 21 and 29 minutes. It all happened against a Division II foe, of course, but that’s still pretty impressive.

2.) The Dutchmen were never seriously threatened after opening the game on an 11-0 run—District of Columbia twice had a chance to close within four or five points in the second half—but they never really buried the Firebirds either after opening a 20-point lead 15 minutes into the contest. Cassara, recognizing the Dutchmen were battling fatigue after an emotional win over South Dakota State less than 24 hours earlier, fiddled with the lineup in the second half in hopes of finding a cohesive mix.

“We just didn’t have that zip today, we didn’t have the energy,” Cassara said. “We had a chance to really put them away midway through the first half and kind of end the game and we didn’t. And that’s something that we have to learn from, we have to continue to get better, continue to find ways that we don’t let that happen.”

3.) The Dutchmen got what they needed out of their handful of veterans. Stevie Mejia had another solid game (11 points and seven rebounds, his second straight game with seven boards, in 29 minutes) while David Imes had 11 points—including the historic jumper that provided the Dutchmen’s final points with 43 seconds left—seven rebounds and two blocks in 29 minutes. And Stephen Nwaukoni turned 21 years old in impressive fashion as he scored nine of his career-high 13 points and grabbed five of his nine rebounds in just nine second half minutes. Upperclassmen accounted for 75 of the 200 minutes played by the Dutchmen, the most this season.

4.) Nwaukoni wasn’t the only projected starter to provide a boost off the bench. For the second straight game, Taran Buie jumpstarted the Dutchmen by draining a 3-pointer on his first shot of the game. Buie’s 3-pointer began a 26-12 run by the Dutchmen in which he scored all 12 of his points as the Dutchmen took their biggest lead at 39-19.

Buie’s production and pedigree suggests he’ll start sooner than later as long as he can stay out of trouble, but for the moment Cassara is happy with him serving as the Dutchmen’s Vinnie Johnson (GOOGLE IT EVERYONE EXCEPT GARY MOORE)—even if Buie, in a moment of refreshing honesty by both player and coach, admitted he’d rather start.

Asked if he liked coming off the bench, Buie paused and looked at Cassara, who grinned. “You can answer it honestly, it’s OK,” Cassara said.

“No, I’m not really too thrilled about coming off the bench,” Buie said as those in the room laughed. “But like I said, I’m just going to do anything to help this team get towards the win.”

5.) FUN STATS! The Dutchmen are 2-2 for the 27th time in program history and for the second year in a row. They are 2-2 after an 0-2 start for the fifth time in program history and the first since 1990-91. I was a high school senior back then! #OLD…The Dutchmen have had at least five players score in double figures 11 times in their last 82 games dating back to a 93-54 win over UNC Wilmington on Jan. 27, 2010. That game snapped a 122-game streak in which the Dutchmen never had five players score in double figures, dating back to the epic win over George Mason on Feb. 23, 2006. Hey, did that win catapult the Dutchmen into the NCAA Tournament?...This is the second straight year in which Nwaukoni has set his career high for points in the middle game of a Gazelle Group tournament. He scored 12 points against Cleveland State last Nov. 26. Hey, at least someone likes the Gazelle Group!

3 STARS OF THE GAME (vs. University of District of Columbia, 11/16)
3: Stephen Nwaukoni
2: Jimmy Hall
1: Stevie Mejia

8: Jimmy Hall
4: Moussa Kone
4: Stevie Mejia
3: Stephen Nwaukoni
2: Taran Buie
2: Shaq Stokes
1: David Imes

Email Jerry at or follow Defiantly Dutch at

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Five semi-useful things to know: Marshall

1.) Marshall is 2-2 and coming off a last-second, 78-77 loss to South Dakota State (HOFSTRA CONNECTION!) in the opener to yesterday’s doubleheader. The Thundering Herd have beaten District of Columbia (HOFSTRA CONNECTION!) and Longwood and fallen to Villanova (HOFSTRA CONNECTION!). Look at all these Hofstra connections. It’s like they’re all playing in the same tournament or something!

2.) Marshall is coached by Tom Herrion, the brother of New Hampshire coach Bill Herrion, who was Drexel’s coach when the Dragons dominated the Dutchmen and the rest of the NAC with the SHAQ OF THE NAC, Malik Rose. Bill Herrion is 9-5 all-time against Hofstra—9-3 with Drexel and 0-2 with New Hampshire.

3.) Hofstra is 0-1 all-time against Marshall. The Thundering Herd beat the Dutchmen, 73-70, during the Great Alaska Shootout in November 2006. Marshall is a member of Conference USA, the future home of Old Dominion (snort) and about 72 other schools located around the world. Marshall is also the first of three C-USA teams Hofstra will face this year. The Dutchmen host SMU on Dec. 1 and play Tulane at the Barclays Center on Dec. 22. Tulane is the only current C-USA school that Hofstra has beaten. The Dutchmen are 1-5 all-time against current C-USA schools, though the conference may have added 102 teams in the time it took me to write this.

4.) If you are of a certain age—i.e. mine—you correlate Marshall with Hofstra football and not Hofstra basketball. Marshall was the first game I ever boarded a plane to cover back in November 1995, when the 10-0 Dutchmen went to West Virginia and blew a late lead in a 30-28 loss to Chad Pennington and the Thundering Herd. Alas, the very cool credential that I saved is buried in a box somewhere at my Dad’s, I’m sure. The Dutchmen went 0-3 all-time against Marshall in football before any existence of football at Hofstra was wiped from the permanent record. (Hey I told you this stuff was only semi-useful)

5.) Mo Cassara said last night that Marshall may be the biggest team the Dutchmen face this year. The Thundering Herd has a remarkable seven players who stand at least 6-foot-8, which means the Dutchmen will need, pardon the pun, big games from their burgeoning front court duo of Jimmy Hall and Moussa Kone. Veterans David Imes and Stephen Nwaukoni will also need to build on the momentum they created yesterday. It will also be interesting to see if Cassara sticks with the eight-man rotation he played yesterday—when Hall, Kone, Imes, Nwaukoni, Stevie Mejia, Shaq Stokes, Taran Buie and Kentrell Washington all played between 14 and 29 minutes—or if Jordan Allen and/or Dallas Anglin can wrangle their way into some extended playing time.

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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Six semi-useful things to know: University of District of Columbia

1.) The day after facing a school from the last state in the union to take the plunge into Division I athletics, the Flying Dutchmen will face a Division II school located in an area of the country THAT’S NOT EVEN A STATE! THREE ELECTORAL VOTE BIAS! Defiantly Dutch: Giving you American geography lessons since yesterday.

2.) The University of District of Columbia is 1-2 with a win over the University of Sciences and losses to Villanova—HOFSTRA CONNECTION!—and Marshall—HOFSTRA CONNECTION THEY’RE PLAYING HERE THIS WEEKEND TOO! UDC plays in the East Coast Conference—SEE LITOS I TOLD YOU I WASN’T MAKING IT UP oh wait it’s not that ECC—and is coming off its first Division II NCAA Tournament in 25 years. The Firebirds (cool nickname, but not as cool as Jackrabbits) are coached by former Iona coach Jeff Ruland, who has turned around a program that was 1-20 in 2008-09, the year before he arrived. The Firebirds have six players back from last year’s squad—including ECC Defensive Player of the Year Dyrek Jones, who had 93 blocks in 2011-12—but lost their top three scorers. Three of their players are Division I transfers.

3.) Ruland succeeded Tim Welsh—HOFSTRA CONNECTION!—as Iona’s head coach in 1998 and led the Gaels to three NCAA Tournament appearances in the next eight seasons before he was fired following a 2-28 campaign in 2006-07. Ruland was 1-3 against Hofstra as a head coach. Ruland, of course, also played at Iona under Jim Valvano from 1977 through 1980, during which the Gaels went 69-21 and reached the NCAA Tournament twice. Hofstra did not face Iona during Ruland’s playing career.

4.) The Dutchmen have won their last 12 games against non-Division I teams dating back to a loss to Division II Florida Southern in 1988-89. This marks the fourth straight year Hofstra faces a non-Division I opponent and the first time the Dutchmen have battled a non-DI opponent in a tournament since 2006-07, when they beat host Alaska-Anchorage in the Great Alaska Shootout. Ironically, in that it’s coincidence, that Dutchmen team lost to Marshall right before beating Alaska-Anchorage. Hofstra, of course, faces Marshall tomorrow.

5.) The Dutchmen are 1-2 for the 29th time in program history and the first time since 2010, when they fell to 1-3 with a loss to Nebraska in Puerto Rico Tip-Off. The Dutchmen are 16-12 in the fourth game of the season when opening the year 1-2.

6.) Mo Cassara noted last night that the Dutchmen earned a huge win in last year’s Gazelle Group tournament (grrr), when it beat Cleveland State 51 weeks ago today, only to negate that progress by losing to Boston University the next day. Expect Cassara to have the Dutchmen motivated to win the lone obviously winnable game on the early part of their non-conference schedule, both to maintain the momentum generated by last night’s upset of South Dakota State as well as to give Cassara a chance to get some minutes for players who have struggled to establish themselves this season. David Imes’ minutes have dropped from 24 to 22 to 15, but this is a good opportunity for him to get on track against a team that has just three players taller than 6-foot-5. A relatively easy win would also give freshman Dallas Anglin—whose minutes have gone from 29 to 22 to four—a chance to shake his awful shooting slump (2-for-22) and give extended playing time to Jordan Allen, whose minutes have bounced from 13 to 19 to six.

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Hofstra 66, South Dakota State 63 (Or: We’ve all been through some nasty weather)

There were a lot of possible endings to the Choose Your Own Adventure book that was the Flying Dutchmen’s home opener Friday night. Yes. That’s right. I just referenced the Choose Your Own Adventure books. A new all-time high for me!

But after consecutive 29-point losses to open the season, even the most optimistic and rule-bending of fans (you’re not supposed to flip through the book to find a happy resolution) could have imagined landing at the most dramatic and unbelievable of endings: Shaquille Stokes draining a Jenkins-esque 3-pointer with three seconds to play, South Dakota State missing a 3-pointer at the buzzer and Stokes getting swallowed up by teammates at the press table as a crowd of 3,142 (including a two-month-old who didn’t seem to get the fuss) roared with a fury and enthusiasm straight out of February 2011 as it celebrated the Dutchmen’s stunning 66-63 win over the Jackrabbits.

For the second straight year, it is Hofstra—HOFSTRA—that has authored the CAA’s first signature non-conference win. (Sorry, George Mason and Delaware, but blame Virginia)

“I don’t know if everybody in here realizes how good that team is,” Mo Cassara said. “That team we beat today is an NCAA Tournament team. They’re going to win 25, 26, 28 games and they had Alabama beat [in the last minute] down at Alabama. So great win for us.”

1.) It was a win that was cleansing and cathartic for those who remembered last year. With nine newcomers on a 14-player roster, it’s not fair to expect the Dutchmen to shoulder the burdens of last year’s failings. But last night was desperately essential for everyone else who recalls how the Dutchmen went 1-4 in games decided by three points or less and 2-8 in games decided by six points or less last year.

“Feels great,” said one of those holdovers, Stevie Mejia, who had perhaps his best game in a Hofstra uniform with 14 points, a career-high seven rebounds, three assists and just one turnover in a career-high 37 minutes. “Last year we had a lot of close games. I remember a lot of close games. But it feels good just to mentally be strong enough just to get this win.”

2.) In winning, the Dutchmen displayed the traits they didn’t have last year. They won after trailing by seven points in the first half and after heading into the locker room down by a point. The Dutchmen didn’t win a single game they trailed at the half last year and the biggest deficit they overcame in a win was a mere five points.

In the second half, the Dutchmen played strong defense and never trailed after the 14:46 mark, largely because South Dakota State didn’t mount a 4-0 “run” at any point after the 16-minute mark. Contrast that to last year and the home game against Northeastern in particular, when the Huskies scored on 17 of their final 20 possessions in a two-point win.

“I thought we contested every shot,” Cassara said.

3.) Most of all, a year after they couldn’t find someone to replace Charles Jenkins’ ruthlessness in the final minute, the Dutchmen have multiple players who want the ball with the game on the line. Just ask Stokes.

“Taran and Stevie kept calling for the ball,” Stokes said of the Dutchmen’s final possession. “I waved ‘em off, like ‘nah, I’m gonna be the one to shoot this one.’ So I just shot it and it went in.”

Stokes’ final shot wasn’t the only thing that was Jenkins-esque. After going 0-for-4 from the field in the first half, Stokes scored all nine of his points on 4-of-5 shooting in the second half and scored the Dutchmen’s last five points. He gave the Dutchmen a 63-60 lead with a pretty floater in the lane with 54 seconds to play.

And like Jenkins, Stokes oozes personality and leadership. Despite being the youngest player at the podium, he won the press conference when he answered a question about how the Dutchmen took better care of the ball Friday, when they committed just 10 turnovers after turning it over 40 times in their first two games.

“We got tired of running those sprints,” Stokes said as those in attendance laughed.

“Can I leave that one alone?” Cassara said. “Let that answer it?”

4.) It’s only one game, but Buie looks like he is going to answer, with affirmative authority, the answer to the question “Will ANY Hofstra transfer EVER work out?” Playing in his first game in almost two years, and fresh off a two-game suspension for a violation of team rules, Buie hit his first shot, a 3-pointer with 13:29 to go in the first half, to give the Dutchmen an 11-8 lead. He scored 11 of his 14 points in the first half, including seven unanswered points that single-handedly pulled the Dutchmen even at 25-25.

“When that first shot [was made by] Taran, it was almost like the pressure just came off everybody,” Cassara said. “Because all of a sudden we’ve got another threat to score. He’s got his feet underneath him and then all of a sudden we’re putting the ball in the basket.”

It doesn’t seem a coincidence the Dutchmen’s guards started putting the ball in the basket as soon as Buie arrived. Buie, Mejia, Stokes, Kentrell Washington and Dallas Anglin were a combined 15-of-32 shooting last night. That’s more field goals, in less than half the attempts, than the Dutchmen guards had in the first two games combined, when they shot a brutal 12-of-66.

“It’s amazing: When you put the ball in the basket, you play a little harder on defense,” Cassara said. “So credit to these guys.”

Buie also displayed an ability to create for others with a pair of nifty assists. And he brings a Cornelius Vines-esque edge to the Dutchmen, that type of grit that should turn him into the player Everyone Else In The CAA Hates in the blink of an eye come January. Buie drew a pair of charges and was a hand-clapping, opponent-annoying machine from the moment he drained his first basket.

“It’s been a long journey, a long two years since I’ve been on the court,” Buie said. “[There was] a lot of off-the-court stuff that I had to get through to get to this place. I’m very proud of myself for making it back on the court and then playing as well as I did today.”

5.) While the three guards dominated the stars of the game (SPOILER ALERT!), the Dutchmen received the type of team-wide contributions they rarely got from last year’s ravaged roster. Jimmy Hall (eight points, nine rebounds and four blocks) once again flirted with a double-double while Moussa Kone (six points, five rebounds) and Stephen Nwaukoni (eight points, five rebounds) provided solid minutes down low. David Imes scored just three points and Jordan Allen’s lone two points came from the free throw line, but Imes’ 3-pointer gave the Dutchmen their first multi-possession lead of the game early in the second half and Allen’s two free throws tied it in the final minute of the first half.

“I give credit to these guys [and] especially guys [who are] not here right now, like Moussa, Stephen, Jordan,” Mejia said. “They came in and gave great minutes.”

6.) And now the useless but fun stats from last night: The Dutchmen beat a current Summit League team for the first time. Three of the four games they have played against Summit League teams have been decided by three points or less…The Dutchmen avoided falling to 0-3 for the 22nd team in program history. They are now 8-7 in the third game of seasons in which they have opened 0-2…The Dutchmen have won nine straight home openers and are 14-6 in home openers in the Defiantly Dutch Era and 30-12 in home openers since moving to Division I.

3 STARS OF THE GAME (vs. South Dakota State 11/15)
3: Stevie Mejia
2: Taran Buie
1: Shaq Stokes

6: Jimmy Hall
4: Moussa Kone
3: Stevie Mejia
2: Taran Buie
2: Shaq Stokes
1: David Imes

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Seven semi-useful things to know: South Dakota State

1.) South Dakota State (1-1 with a home win over Tennessee State and a buzzer-beating loss to Alabama) not only has the coolest nickname of any non-conference foe, but the Jackrabbits might be the best team the Flying Dutchmen face in November or December. South Dakota State returns all five starters from the team that won the Summit League and reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time last year, where it fell to Baylor 68-60 in the first round (yeah, it’s the first round to me, cram it, NCAA). The Jackrabbits have their own Charles Jenkins in Nate Wolters, a 6-foot-3 senior guard who was tabbed as one of the 50 finalists for the Wooden Award. Wolters is on pace to become South Dakota State’s all-time leading scorer, was the only player in the country last year to average 20 points, five assists and five rebounds per game and will have plenty of NBA scouts watching him tonight along press row. Hmm. Sounds familiar.

2.) South Dakota State plays in the Summit League, which used to be known as the Mid-Continent Conference, which absorbed the non-Hofstra members of the East Coast Conference following the 1993-94 season. CONNECTIONS! Hofstra is 0-3 all-time against current Summit League schools, with a loss apiece against Western Illinois, Missouri-Kansas City and IUPUI, the latter of whom, of course, waxed Hofstra in the god-forsaken CBI in 2010 and started us down this path of Gazelle Group hell. Fortunately this weekend pays off our debt to the CBI and we’ll never have to speak of it again. Except when I want to bitch and moan about it.

3.) South Dakota was the last state to join the ranks of Division I athletics. You scoff now, but someday, this bit of information will win you bar trivia.

4.) Hofstra has won its last eight home openers since a 70-69 loss to Stony Brook in 2003. The Flying Dutchmen are 13-6 in home openers in the Defiantly Dutch Era (1993-94, #Ego) and are 29-12 in home openers dating back to the move to Division I in 1972-73.

5.) The Flying Dutchmen are trying to avoid their first 0-3 start since 2006-07, when they lost three road/neutral site games by a combined nine points. This is just the Dutchmen’s second 0-2 start in the DD Era (1993-94, 2002-03) and their 15th 0-2 start in school history. The first 14 times it happened, the Dutchmen went 7-7 in game no. 3.

6.) Taran Buie will finally make his Hofstra debut tonight, when he is expected to come off the bench and provide minutes at guard. Buie is playing his first collegiate game since Dec. 21, 2010, when he scored one point and collected two rebounds and two assists in Penn State’s 74-64 loss to Maine. Buie was suspended the first two games of this season due to a violation of team rules. FYI: Buie’s career highs at Penn State were 14 points, three assists and two steals. Hey we’re optimistic here that Buie will have a Nathaniel Lester-esque return to Division I basketball and that we’ll need this information tonight!

7.) As of this morning, Mo Cassara planned to start the same lineup he fielded (courted?) Sunday against Purdue: Stevie Mejia-Shaq Stokes-David Imes-Jimmy Hall-Moussa Kone. Expect also to see plenty of Kentrell Washington, who was impressive in practice this week, and don’t be surprised if Cassara puts Buie out there for plenty of playing time right away. Any chance the Dutchmen have at pulling off the upset relies on finding a spark from Washington and/or Buie, who can provide the shooting touch the Dutchmen guards have sorely lacked this season.

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Defiantly Dutch Q&A: Mo Cassara

Mo Cassara was kind enough to chat with us this morning—and really, why shouldn’t he chat with us, we named our kid after him! More on that this weekend, perhaps. Anyway, thanks to Mo for his time and for a very interesting Q&A in which he revealed news about two Hofstra newcomers as well as a planned trip overseas next summer.

Do you look at tonight as a second opener?

Yeah, a little bit of a new start for us, another opportunity at home. We know we haven’t played our best, so I think there’s a long way to go forward and another great opportunity. Certainly, it’s almost like a new start.

Do you feel as if this season, with so many new faces, is an entirely fresh start for you and the program?

I think it’s really a giant transition season for us. It’s a transition to a lot of new young faces and transfer guys trying to get back and into playing mode and playing everyday, competing everyday. And ultimately it’s going to transition into another group of young players for next year, when the majority of our team is going to be freshmen and sophomores.

In your first year here, you had Charles Jenkins, who was pretty good at selling tickets. Last year didn’t go like anyone wanted and some of that momentum was lost. What are you doing to try and sustain the fan interest and get fans out to the Arena this year?

I’m going to go and reach out to our students body as well as in the community [and tell them] the wins are going to come. You’ve been through this, Jay Wright’s been through this, Tom Pecora’s been through this. There’s some transition at this level, and when you have coaching changes and you have a lot of players leave the program—if you look back at that first year, we lost eight guys between the guys who left the program and guys who graduated, we lost eight of our 12 guys in one calendar year—[you realize] we’re going to have to take our time and build it back the right way. And I’m really confident, just like Jay did and Tom did, we’re going to get this thing going. It’s just going to take a little bit of time.

Last weekend was a tough one. What positives did you take from it?

I think the biggest thing you take from last weekend is experience—on the road, experience in everything from travel to [taking] buses to planes to pregame shoot-around to pregame meals to mentally preparing yourself for the game and things like that. We have a lot of guys who haven’t done that. Now with a couple of transfers that will join us, they haven’t done that in a couple years.

It’s really funny. When we got on the bus, I had to kind of introduce everybody to [longtime bus driver] Eddie [Dellostritto], because he didn’t know half the guys walking on the bus. Walk out, make sure you introduce yourself to Eddie, [tell him] who you are, where you’re from. Eddie didn’t know three-quarters of the team. So that shows you how many new faces we have.

Were you able to get some consistency and get a routine going in practice this week?

We had to take Monday off for practice but we were able to go Tuesday through Thursday, three good days of practice, which was good after a very tough, challenging opening weekend, going to a Big 10 school after one day of rest and not playing particularly well in both games. So to be able to get a little consistency, for our staff and everybody to start getting back into their houses, into our offices, all that kind of stuff—between all the variety of things that have happened, we have not had one full-strength week of practice without interruption. And we need that desperately.

What is the best part about having to rely so heavily on young players?

I think it’s almost like everyday is a new challenge, everyday is a new opportunity. You’re not quite sure what you’re going to get, whether in practice or [in a game]. That can be frustrating at times, but it’s awfully exciting.

Jimmy Hall went from not playing in the first half against Queens to being your best player in two straight games. Were you surprised by how quickly he adjusted?

You know what? On the court I’m not worried. His adjustments are coming quickly because he played in a great high school program, he’s been coached, he’s learning to play and he’s very talented. His overall adjustment will be determined on how well he picks everything else up—being a student-athlete, being a part of a college campus community. Those are things, as freshmen, he’s struggling to adjust to and learn [about]. We have very high expectations for him and we’re going to continue to push him on and off the court to excel. He’ll have a couple bumps in the road, but his abilities will certainly continued to be showcased on the court.

Moussa Kone has been your second-best player in both games. You spoke often last year of his work ethic and his ceiling. Are you starting to see him reach that potential?

My big thing with Moussa is his energy. When he brings energy and enthusiasm to the court [as well as] his big body and long arms or his rebounding or blocked shots—those are things that we desperately need. And he’s gone from being kind of a young freshman to really going out there and playing right away. If he’s going to play 25, 28 minutes, maybe 30 minutes at times, he’s got to go from a four or five rebounds a game guy to eight or nine rebounds a game. That’s the difference between a good, average player and a really good player in this program.

You’ve already had more players start a game this year than in either of your first two years. Was that by design or in reaction to the lopsided loss at Monmouth?

I think we have so many kind of moving parts still. Really, in the last week to 10 days, we just had two guys join the roster, essentially, in [Shaq] Stokes and [Taran] Buie, as crazy as that sounds. We had to kind of adjust and adapt and move around a little bit. As you know, it’s not my style, I like to stick with a starting lineup and get some consistency and continuity that way, This year, for a while, it’s going to be changing and moving around and we’re going to play guys that are doing everything we expect them to do everyday.

I think that’ll happen for a while and we’re going to move more guys in and out that are playing well and we’re going to challenge our five young guys to really play well and play consistently and play hard. And if they’re not, they’re going to have to learn how to do that. And sometime the best way to do that is by sitting on the bench. It’s really not my style to play that many guys, but we may have to do that. This is going to be kind of a moving and evolving transition with a young but deeper group.

We’re also going to redshirt Darren Payen, who we believe is arguably the most talented, top to bottom, player, he’s really the crown jewel of the recruiting class. So we’re going to back him up. He’s also very young. And we just signed [Gervelle] Kidd from Hargrave Military Academy, who we’re very excited about. We have a real nucleus of young guys that this team is going to be really freshmen and sophomore and just a couple underclassmen. Moving forward, we’re starting to put all those pieces into place. We’re currently in the process of working to schedule an international trip in August, we’re going to get to play five games and practice 10 days in August, so we’re putting building blocks in place for the future of this program. Unfortunately, we’re going to get some inconsistency and up and down play on the court right now.

Taran and Jamal Coombs-McDaniels are eligible tonight. What are their statuses?

Taran’s back, he’s been back and practicing hard, and now after a long year-and-a-half of being here—from summer of the previous year and all that—now he’s actually [ready to go]. He’s in pretty good shape, he’s ready to go. Jamal remains out indefinitely with complications from his microfracture surgery from almost two years ago. I don’t want people to still think he’s suspended, he’s ready to go in good academic standing and everything else, but [because of] his knee he has not practiced this year.

What do you expect to see out of Taran tonight?

I think some jitters. A little bit of that game speed stuff will take a little bit of time to get back into, so to speak. I think that will take a little bit of time for him. I want him to try to let the game come to him a little bit and do what he does well. I think for him, a lot of it is going to be mental. Some of it is going to be physical, but I think he’s got to get some time under his belt. Just like our freshmen kids, he’s got to get some experience. He needs to get some time and experience. He hasn’t played a lot of basketball in quite some time.

Last year’s home opener was quite a memorable one, and despite a rough season, you had two or three of the biggest non-conference wins in the entire CAA. Do you hope tonight is for this team what Cleveland State or Long Island was to last year’s team?

I hope so, I hope so I’m not sure when it’s going to come, whether it’s tonight or it’s Saturday or it’s Sunday or it’s next Saturday, but it’s going to come. And hopefully for me as a coach—you obviously hope it comes sooner than later, so not only can our guys get some confidence and feel good about what we’re doing and what we’re trying to do and where we’re going, but also so I can get some sleep [laughs].

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Purdue 83, Hofstra 54 (Or: Shake it up, is all that we know)

 1.) As we noted after the Monmouth loss, this is going to be a season of early pain for late gain, and one in which the foundation is set for the future. There will be moments where this is not a whole lot of fun, but it will certainly be a whole lot better than trying to piece together a competitive season out of a bunch of ill-fitting parts, a la last year. Freshmen and sophomores accounted for 145 minutes on Friday night, up from 107 two nights earlier at Monmouth. (Random stat that may or may not mean anything: Freshmen and sophomores accounted for 128 minutes in the second game of the Tom Pecora Era way back on Nov. 23, 2001) And Mo Cassara changed up three-fifths of the lineup, inserting Jimmy Hall, Shaq Stokes and Moussa Kone in place of Stephen Nwaukoni, Kentrell Washington and Jordan Allen. That means the Dutchmen have had more different starters this year (eight) than in either of the last two years (seven). Get used to the mixing and matching.

 2.) For the second straight game, freshman Jimmy Hall and sophomore Moussa Kone were not only the most impressive of the underclassmen, but the best players on the floor for the Dutchmen. Hall and Kone were the only players to score in double figures Sunday and led the Dutchmen with 35 and 28 minutes played, respectively. It looks as if Kone—whose work ethic and upside were each lauded by coaches during a freshman season in which he was often looked like the  rawest player on the floor—has turned a corner. Kone has scored in double figures in both games this season after not reaching double figures at all in 32 games last year. And he has 10 rebounds in the first two games after recording 10 rebounds in a two-game span just three times last year.

3.) Hall’s ascension has been nothing short of stunning: From sitting out the first half of the exhibition against Queens to recording a double-double off the bench against Monmouth to moving into the starting lineup and leading all scorers with 17 points on Sunday. There will be hiccups to come for Hall as the youngest of the Dutchmen’s true freshmen adjusts to Division I basketball, but it’s tough to envision him exiting the starting lineup anytime soon. And how long has it been since Hofstra had a pair of 6-foot-7 or taller players exhibiting the type of promise Hall and Kone have displayed thus far? Roberto Gittens and Greg Springfield, maybe?

4.) The going has been a bit tougher for, well, everyone else. Newcomers Stokes, Allen, Washington and Dallas Anglin were a combined 5-for-23 from the field Sunday and are 11-for-52 in two games. Anglin has really struggled: He’s 2-of-20 shooting.  While some gruesome moments are to be expected out of a pair of true freshmen (Anglin and Washington), a redshirt freshman (Allen) and a sophomore who didn’t get cleared to play until last week and has been hobbled by injury (Stokes), the Dutchmen need more production ASAP out of their three lone upperclassmen. David Imes has five blocks in two games but is just 4-of-15 shooting—and 1-for-7 inside the 3-point line—and played just 22 minutes on Sunday. Stevie Mejia was better with the basketball on Sunday (two turnovers and four assists) but was just 1-of-7 from the field and is 3-of-17 shooting this year. And Nwaukoni followed up an 11-rebound season debut by recording no boards in just eight minutes, his briefest playing stint since Jan. 18 against Drexel.

5.) And now for some useless but fun stats: The Dutchmen are 0-2 for the 16th time in program history and the first time since 2006-07…They have led once in each game: 3-2 against Monmouth and 2-0 against Purdue…The Dutchmen’s 17 first half points Sunday were their fewest since they scored 17 in the second half against VCU Jan. 23…And Hofstra has lost consecutive games by at least 29 points for the first time since the 1986-87 season, when the Flying Dutchmen—who, as our friend Raphielle Johnson noted Sunday night, were ACTUALLY known as the Flying Dutchmen back then!—lost at Lamar 97-53 and at California 85-55. The really bad news back then: That was the second time that season the Dutchmen suffered consecutive losses by at least 29 points. Hofstra also lost at Wagner 97-64 and at Providence 97-61. The Dutchmen did lose two straight games by a combined 58 points in 1995-96, otherwise known as my second senior year of college, when they fell to Delaware 93-65 and Drexel 93-63.

3 STARS OF THE GAME (vs. Purdue 11/11)
3: Jimmy Hall
2: Moussa Kone
1: David Imes

6: Jimmy Hall
4: Moussa Kone
1: David Imes
1: Shaq Stokes

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Six semi-useful things to know: Purdue

1.) Purdue is 0-1 after a 70-65 loss to Bucknell on Friday. That was the first “Red Line Upset” of the season, followed minutes later by George Mason upsetting Virginia. Bucknell and George Mason play each other Tuesday. What does this mean? I’m not entirely sure, other than Purdue is gonna be hacked off today.

2.) Hofstra has never played Purdue. The Dutchmen are 1-2 all-time against current Big 10 teams, of which there are actually 12, but the name Big 12 was already taken. The only current Big 10 team the Dutchmen have played while it was a member of the Big 10 is Penn State, which edged Hofstra 74-71 in the Holiday Classic championship game Dec. 27, 2000.

 3.) This game is part of the Wounded Warrior Classic, which is put on by the Gazelle Group, which of course puts on The Worst Thing Ever, the CBI. Hofstra traveled to Purdue after playing at Monmouth on Friday night even though Villanova is also a host team and even though JAY WRIGHT’S team has an obvious connection to Hofstra. Why did the Gazelle Group send the Dutchmen halfway across the country when they could have just put them on a two-hour bus ride? It’s the Gazelle Group. Don’t ask.

4.) The Dutchmen lost a season opener for the 34th time on Friday. The Dutchmen have bounced back with a win in their second game 18 times, including the last three times (2007, 2008 and 2009). Hofstra has not opened a season 0-2 since it lost its first three games in 2006.

5.) Jimmy Hall became the third Hofstra player this century to open his collegiate career with a double-double. He’ll try to become the first to have a double-double in his first TWO games. Kenny Adeleke and Halil Kanacevic fell just short: Adeleke had 25 points and nine assists against Kent State in 2001 while Kanacevic had eight points and nine rebounds against Yale in 2009.

6.) Mo Cassara wasted no time changing up the lineup as he penciled in Shaq Stokes, Jimmy Hall and Moussa Kone in place of Kentrell Washington, Jordan Allen and Stephen Nwaukoni. Incredibly, that means the Dutchmen have had more players start a game this year (eight, duh) than in either of Cassara’s first two seasons (seven each).