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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