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.