1.) This is the second of many losses this year that we can blame on the absence of the four knuckleheads, and in particular the two who were starting. Do you think the Flying Dutchmen blow a 16-point lead in the final 12:01 if they’ve got a couple of those guys in the lineup? The arrests dropped the number of pure point guards on the roster from three to one, which meant the Dutchmen couldn’t hang on when Stevie Mejia fouled out with 2:35 left. Instead of the guy who used to wear no. 4 or the guy who used to wear no. 44 backing up Mejia down the stretch, that task fell to walk-on Adam Savion, who wasn’t even on the team in October. Once again: Thanks guys.
2.) This could have been a defining win for the Dutchmen, who were this close to becoming the first team to knock off the two-time defending Northeast Conference champions at home in more than two years. And now we’ve got to wonder if it will be a defining loss for a team that did all it could to win and still lost. The Dutchmen finally shot well (57.4 percent, the first time they’ve hit half their field goal attempts this year and their highest field goal percentage since the win over Long Island in the season opener last year), scored 52 second half points, had that big ol’ lead with 12 minutes to go AND STILL LOST. That’s a tough thing to overcome for a depleted team that is already staggered.
3.) That said, as much as the Dutchmen did to win, there were still obvious there is still plenty of room for improvement amid the evidence they’ll have to do everything right to win this year. The Dutchmen had another miserable afternoon at the free throw line, where they were just 19-of-33. And that included a 7-of-7 performance from the line by Stevie Mejia, so the rest of the team was an eye-popping 12-of-26. Teams with no margin for error can’t be missing that many free throws. Hofstra committed 19 turnovers, including at least three by every starter except Jordan Allen. Long Island played a full-court press during its dramatic comeback, but the Dutchmen were careless with the ball as well in the first half with eight turnovers.
4.) Can’t say this enough: Taran Buie is a big-time player. He scored 29 points, including 19 in a Jenkins-esque second half in which he was 7-of-8 from the field (he was actually much better from the floor than from the free throw line, where he was 3-of-7) and scored the Dutchmen’s last six points. He’s the main reason why you should believe this year will be better than last year, even given all the personnel losses the Dutchmen have absorbed. There will be some games this year in which he single-handedly carries the Dutchmen to victory. (I hope)
5.) Walk-on Savion (five points, four rebounds), freshman Darren Payen (a career-high seven points and three rebounds) and Stephen Nwaukoni (12 points on 6-of-9 shooting and seven rebounds) are all developing into solid role players. Of course, that’s the problem: Neither Savion nor Payen should be playing this year, and the Dutchmen would have been a lot better off if Nwaukoni was one of two or three guys providing six or seven rebounds a game instead of the only one. As always and once again: Thanks guys.
3 STARS OF THE GAME (vs. Long Island U. 12/8)
3: Taran Buie
2: Stevie Mejia
1: Stephen Nwaukoni
16: Taran Buie
9: Stevie Mejia
6: Stephen Nwaukoni
4: Moussa Kone
2: Matt Grogan
2: David Imes
***21 points vacated