Friday, March 3, 2017

I’ll Be Quirky: Delaware (CAA Tournament first round)

Will good ol' American boy Judge Reinhold be listening on his favorite toy tonight to Hofstra-Delaware? (Also, I'm very mature, for I could have used a very different picture here)

The Flying Dutchmen went into the CAA Tournament on a winning note last Saturday, when they pulled away in the final four minutes to edge James Madison, 71-66. The Dutchmen will open (but hopefully not close!) CAA Tournament play tonight when they wear the home duds against ninth-seeded Delaware in North Charleston. #ThanksTom Here’s a quick look bak at the win over the Dukes and a look ahead to the Fighting Blue Hens. 

THE MOST RECENT GAME SUMMARIZED IN ONE PARAGRAPH
Jamall Robinson’s 3-pointer with 3:37 remaining gave the Dutchmen the lead for good and keyed a game-ending 15-9 run. Five different players scored in the run for the Dutchmen. Justin Wright-Foreman was just 8-of-23 from the field, including 1-of-10 from 3-point land, but still once again led the Dutchmen in scoring with 19 points, including 15 in the second half. Rokas Gustys (15 points), Deron Powers (13 points) and Eli Pemberton (11 points) also scored in double figures. Gustys added a game-high 14 rebounds as he posted his third double-double in four games. 

3 STARS OF THE GAME (vs. James Madison 2/25)
3: Justin Wright-Foreman
2: Rokas Gustys
1: Deron Powers

SEASON STANDINGS
Justin Wright-Foreman 57
Deron Powers 34
Eli Pemberton 29
Brian Bernardi 23
Rokas Gustys 22
Ty Greer 9
Hunter Sabety 7
Jamall Robinson 5

HONORS FOR HOFSTRA
Justin Wright-Foreman earned second-team All-CAA honors in balloting revealed Thursday while Eli Pemberton made the all-rookie team.

EIGHT WILL HAVE TO BE ENOUGH
The Dutchmen will be the no. 8 seed in this weekend’s CAA Tournament and will face ninth-seeded Delaware tonight at 6 PM. The winner of tonight’s game faces top-seeded UNC Wilmington Saturday at noon. The Dutchmen and James Madison each finished 7-11, but the Dukes drew the seventh seed by virtue of a win over third-seeded Towson, which swept Hofstra.

The Dutchmen are the eighth seed in the CAA Tournament for the third time since joining the league in the 2001-02 season. The Dutchmen went 1-1 as the eighth seed in 2014, when they beat UNC Wilmington 78-70 in the lone outbracket game before falling to eventual champion Delaware 87-75. In 2008, the Dutchmen dropped an 81-66 “Pillowfight Friday” decision to Towson.

The eighth seed is just 4-14 in its opening round game since the 2001-02 season.

2015: Elon 74, Towson 69 (OT)
2014: Hofstra 78, UNCW 70
2010: Towson 91, UNCW 74
2009: Georgia State 54, Delaware 41

SLOW START, FAST FINISH
The Dutchmen became only the second team in CAA history to finish with seven league wins after opening 1-6 or worse through seven games. William & Mary opened 1-6 and finished 7-11 in 2012-13. The Tribe lost its opening game in the CAA Tournament to eventual champion James Madison, 72-67.

The previous 22 teams to open 1-6 or worse finished with an average of 3.5 CAA wins. 

FACING A FAMILIAR FOE
The Dutchmen will face Delaware in a conference tournament game for the seventh time — all since 1994-95, when the Dutchmen joined the North Atlantic Conference. The seven conference tournament games are the most for Hofstra against any foe in the NAC/America East/CAA era.

Hofstra is 2-4 in conference tournament games against Delaware, with both wins coming in consecutive America East championship games.

1997 America East QFs: Delaware 86-73
1998 America East SFs: Delaware 60-51
2000 America East championship: Hofstra 76-69***
2001 America East championship: Hofstra 68-54***
2013 CAA QFs: Delaware 62-57
2014 CAA QFs: Delaware 87-76

ONCE, TWICE, THREE TIMES A VICTORY?
The Dutchmen swept Delaware in the regular season series. While the idea that it’s hard to beat a team three times in one season is a popular cliche, a CAA team that swept the regular season series is 44-17 in a tournament re-rematch since 2001-02. However, the sweeping team is just 5-5 in a third meeting over the last two years. 

Since joining the CAA, the Dutchmen are 5-0 in a third tournament game against a team they swept in the regular season.

2016: Hofstra beats Drexel
2016: Hofstra beats W&M
2014: Hofstra beats UNCW
2011: Hofstra beats W&M
2009: Hofstra beats UNCW

FIRST IMPRESSIONS FOR MIHALICH
Joe Mihalich-coached teams are 15-3 in their first conference tournament games, including 3-0 since Mihalich took over at Hofstra prior to the 2013-14 season. Mihalich last lost his first conference tournament game in 2011, when Niagara fell to Marist, 73-61.

LEADER! WE LOVE THE LEADER!
Justin Wright-Foreman held at least a share of the team scoring lead Saturday for the 11th straight game, which is the longest streak by a Hofstra player since Charles Jenkins ended his collegiate career by at least sharing the team lead in points for 11 straight games from Feb. 2, 2011 through March 15, 2011. 

Charles Jenkins 11 games (2/2/11-3/15/11 end of season)
JUSTIN WRIGHT-FOREMAN 11 games (1/21/17-present)
Charles Jenkins 10 games (11/13/10-12/18/10)

CASHING IN FREE THROWS
Brian Bernardi missed his first free throw of the conference season Saturday, but Justin Wright-Foreman drained both free throws against James Madison and has now hit his last 26 attempts dating back to the second half of the Northeastern game on Feb. 11. Bernardi and Wright-Foreman’s streaks are the longest by a Hofstra player in at least five seasons.

BRIAN BERNARDI, 32-for-32 (12/11/16-2/25/17)
JUSTIN WRIGHT-FOREMAN (26-for-26 (2/11/17-present)
Juan’ya Green 24-for-24 (11/22/15-12/6/15)
Dion Nesmith 23-for-23 (11/25/14-1/13/15)
Juan’ya Green 21-for-21 (1/28/16-2/4/16)

WRIGHT-FOREMAN’S SOPHOMORE SURGE
Justin Wright-Foreman has played at least 10 minutes in every game but one this season and has scored in double figures in 25 of 31 games, including the last 21. He scored more than four points and played more than 10 points in just one game last season, when he collected nine points in 17 minutes against Division II Molloy. 

Wright-Foreman, who scored 44 points in 27 games last season, has scored 557 points this season, which is already the third-most by a Hofstra sophomore in the CAA era. He is 10 points away from Antoine Agudio into second place. 

The only players in the top 10 to score fewer points as a freshman than Wright-Foreman are David Imes, who scored 25 points as a freshman in 2009-10 before scoring 251 points as a sophomore, and Ziggy Sestokas, who scored 29 points as a freshman in 2005-06 before scoring 219 points as a sophomore.

1.) Charles Jenkins 629 (2009-10)
2.) Antoine Agudio 566 (2005-06)
3.) JUSTIN WRIGHT-FOREMAN 557 (2016-17)
3.) Loren Stokes 549 (2004-05)
5.) Kenny Adeleke 468 (2002-03) 
6.) Rokas Gustys 459 (2015-16)
7.) Mike Radziejewski 265 (2002-03)
8.) David Imes 251 (2010-11)
9.) Woody Souffrant 244 (2002-03)
10.) Ziggy Sestokas 219 (2006-07)

WRIGHT-FOREMAN GOING NATIONAL
With 557 points this season, Justin Wright-Foreman enters today tied for 19th among sophomores in scoring, according to College Basketball Reference. The only player ahead of him who scored fewer than 100 points as a freshman last season is Albany’s David Nichols, who scored 40 points in 15 games last year but enters today ranked 11th among sophomores with 577 points.

GUSTYS MOVING ON UP
Junior forward Rokas Gustys is just three rebounds away from moving past David Taylor into third place on the program’s all-time list. Only Taylor and John Irving (1974-77) have collected more rebounds during Hofstra’s Division I era.

1.) Bill Thieben, 1,637 (1953-56)
2.) John Irving, 1,186 (1974-77)
3.) David Taylor 926 (1979-82)
4.) ROKAS GUSTYS 924 (2014-present)
5.) Gary Cheslock 857 (1978-81)

OVER THE AIR
The CAA will provide a video feed of today’s game while Hofstra will provide a radio feed at the Pride Productions hub.
SCOUTING DELAWARE
The Blue Hens, under rookie head coach Martin Ingelsby, finished the regular season 12-19 overall and 5-13 in CAA play. Delaware suffered its third straight loss Saturday, when it fell to Elon, 81-59.

The Dutchmen and Blue Hens had one common foe during non-league play. The Dutchmen beat Bradley 92-90 on Nov. 21 while the Blue Hens knocked off the Braves, 63-49, on Nov. 13.

The Dutchmen, who were picked sixth in the CAA preseason poll, enter today ranked 172nd at KenPom.com and 183rd in the RPI. The Blue Hens, who were picked 10th, are ranked 303rd at KenPom.com and 249th in the RPI.

Per the wise guys in Vegas, for entertainment purposes only, the Dutchmen are 9.5-point favorites.

The Dutchmen swept the regular season series from Delaware by edging the Blue Hens 58-56 in New-ARK on Dec. 31 and coming back from a 14-point deficit to earn a 73-65 victory at the Arena on Feb. 2. 

The Dutchmen are third among CAA teams in scoring (77.3 ppg) but are allowing 76.5 ppg, the third-most in the league.

The Dutchmen rank seventh in the CAA in field goal percentage (44.3%) and third in 3-point field goal percentage (36.4%) They are allowing opposing teams to shoot 46.0 percent overall, eighth in the league, and 36.4 percent from beyond the arc, which is last. 

The Blue Hens ranks last in the CAA in scoring (64.3 ppg) and are allowing 71.4 ppg, which is fourth in the league. 

The Blue Hens are last in the CAA in both field goal percentage (41.2%) and 3-point field goal percentage (30.0%). They are sixth in field goal percentage defense (44.3%) and seventh in 3-point field goal percentage defense (35.6%).

ALL-TIME VS. DELAWARE
Hofstra is 54-31 against Delaware in a series that began during the 1954-55 season. The only other school Hofstra has faced as often is Drexel, whom it has also played 85 times. Hofstra and Delaware were rivals in the East Coast Conference and the North Atlantic Conference/America East before heading to the CAA, along with Drexel and Towson, for the 2001-02 season.

The Dutchmen have won the last six meetings with Delaware. The current winning streak by the Dutchmen comes immediately after Delaware won seven straight from 2011-12 through 2013-14. 

REPLACING THE MISSING SCORING—AND THEN SOME
The Dutchmen lost a whopping 50.3 ppg from last year’s squad via the graduations of Juan’ya Green (17.8 ppg), Ameen Tanksley 15.9 ppg), Denton Koon (11.4 ppg) and Malik Nichols (5.2 ppg). But they have “found” 56.1 ppg this season via five players who didn’t play for the team in 2015-16, plus the emergence of sophomore Justin Wright-Foreman. 

Justin Wright-Foreman (16.8)***
Deron Powers (12.9)
Eli Pemberton (12.8)
Ty Greer (5.6)
Hunter Sabety (4.2)
Jamall Robinson (3.8)

***The Wright-Foreman average subtracts the 1.2 ppg he averaged last season to better account for the “found” points.

PEMBERTON HITS THE TOP 5
Eli Pemberton, who was the first Hofstra freshman since Antoine Agudio (2004-05) to open his career by scoring in double digits in his first five games, is the 19th Dutchmen freshman in the CAA era to score at least 100 points in his debut season. He broke a tie with Loren Stokes for fourth place on the CAA-era freshman scoring list last Saturday. 

1.) Antoine Agudio, 452 (2004-05)
2.) Charles Jenkins, 436 (2007-08)
3.) Kenny Adeleke, 433 (2001-02)
4.) ELI PEMBERTON, 385 (2016-17)
5.) Loren Stokes, 374 (2003-04)
6.) Chaz Williams, 325 (2009-10)
7.) Jamall Robinson, 312 (2013-14)
8.) Halil Kanacevic, 294 (2009-10)
9.) Carlos Rivera, 226 (2003-04)
10.) Nathaniel Lester, 189 (2007-08)

THINGS YOU CAN SHOUT ON TWITTER IF CALLS GO DO NOT GO HOFSTRA’S WAY
Mike Brey mock turtleneck bias! (The Notre Dame coach and successor to George Steinbrenner as America’s finest wearer of mock turtlenecks coached at Delaware from 1995 through 2000)
Bad to the Bone bias! (George Thorogood hails from Delaware)
Dallas Green bias! (The former big league manager and executive is a Delaware graduate)

Judge Reinhold bias! (Per Wikipedia, which is never wrong, the Fast Times At Ridgemont High icon and recent arrestee is from Delaware)

The thrill of the chase


“Let me tell you about dames, Milhouse. I know nothing about ‘em. But as for love, what keeps you going is the thrill of the chase, the possibility that one day you might get what you want, even though the reality is you probably never will.”—Waylon Smithers, “The Burns Cage,” first aired 4/3/16

As fans of mid-major college basketball programs, we spend 51 weeks out of the year occupying the bodies of reasonably normal people driven by logic and data (shut up, really). The heart swells and the imagination races at championship possibilities, but the brain always calmly gallops in behind those endorphins and delivers the reason that quiets those happy thoughts.

We are at our most logical and cynical as the 52nd week approaches. With unavoidable heartbreak on the horizon, our nerve endings flare at the slightest irritation and remind us what awaits.

The Flying Dutchmen’s final homestand two weeks ago was filled with such moments, even when I was a couple hundred feet away from the court. At halftime of one of the games, I went to the snack bar and saw two people wearing Golden State Warriors T-shirts/jerseys with Charles Jenkins’ name and number on the back.

I have a Jenkins T-shirt in my bureau, so I didn’t need more evidence we were so close to getting in on the ground floor of the most amazing NBA renaissance of the century. But Jenkins got traded during the season in which the Warriors made the playoffs for just the second time in 19 years and less than two years before the franchise won the NBA title. Of course.

Our lot in life is to be teased with potential payoff immediately before more torment, as we were reminded during the final two home games against Charleston and UNC Wilmington. The Dutchmen trailed the CAA’s top two teams by double digits in the second half but had the ball with a chance to take the lead in the final minute of both games. 

Against Charleston, there was no foul called when Justin Wright-Foreman got hacked on a potential go-ahead 3-pointer with 10 seconds left. The Cougars ended up winning by four. Two days later, Brian Bernardi got an open look at a potential game-tying 3-pointer. From my vantage point right behind the basket that I yelled “THAT LOOKS GOOD!” But it bounced off the top of the rim.

It evoked memories of the final seconds of the CAA championship game a year ago Tuesday night. With the Dutchmen and UNC Wilmington tied, I was seated near midcourt as Juan’ya Green dribbled up the floor before hoisting a prayer from well beyond the 3-point line. “THAT’S GOT A SHOT!” I yelled, my heart and imagination having completely overtaken the brain that had watched Green suffer the worst game of his career. The shot was off the mark, of course, and the Dutchmen went on to lose by seven in overtime, and it somehow seemed like they’d lost by a lot more than that.

The Dutchmen lost by eight this time, because of course each loss has to outdo its predecessor in some way, shape or form. And as I exited the Arena following the loss to UNC Wilmington, I’d come to accept the fate of the 2016-17 season. I took some solace in the fact it didn’t unfold as badly as it started — the Dutchmen began CAA play 1-6 — and found strange comfort in the familiarity of the tale. The 2001-02 and 2007-08 teams both stumbled after losing multiple players from an NCAA Tournament (or, sigh, NCAA Tournament-caliber) teams before rebuilding into CAA contenders. Hopefully that lay ahead too.

Except week 51 happened, during which the Dutchmen went on the road and beat William & Mary with a game-ending 15-0 run before edging James Madison. These two wins did nothing to improve the Dutchmen’s seeding — they’re the eighth seed and will face ninth-seeded Delaware in the first game of the tournament tonight at 6 PM — and everything to improve our psyche heading into the weekend.

It’s the same psyche we have every year at this time, isn’t it? Long before #alternativefacts somehow became a real thing, we were well-versed in reading carefully selected tea leaves, convincing ourselves we were seeing what we wanted to see and molding, twisting and contorting the data until it offered up a conclusion that backed up our thesis.

We know the road the Dutchmen must travel to a championship has never been navigated. The gauntlet of the CAA season usually foretells how the tournament will unfold. Twenty-seven of the 34 champions entered the tournament seeded first or second and none of the handful of champions seeded third or lower won the title by winning four games in as many days.

In addition, no eighth seed has gotten as far as the semifinals since the league expanded to 10 teams in 2001-02, and no top seed has lost its first game since 1991, when James Madison was upset by Navy in a tournament that included just eight teams.

The task seems doubly difficult this season with UNC Wilmington awaiting if the Dutchmen win tonight. The Seahawks are the first CAA team with the “it” factor since the exit of VCU, Old Dominion and George Mason. They have swag, they have the clutch gene and they are playing for history.

With a second straight title, UNC Wilmington will join the pantheon of all-time CAA teams. The Seahawks could lose this weekend — they are playing at a “neutral” site that favors second-seeded Charleston — but it’s hard to envision it happening in their opening game. 

Even if the Dutchmen win tonight and tomorrow, that still only puts them halfway there. A more-rested William & Mary or Elon would await on Sunday, with either Charleston or Towson — a pair of physical teams — the likeliest teams to advance to Monday’s title game from the other side of the bracket. Tall task, to say the least.

And yet…if a team is going to pull this off, wouldn’t it have a composition similar to the one possessed by the Dutchmen? Justin Wright-Foreman has emerged, to the complete shock and amazement of everyone, as a Jenkins-esque scoring machine capable of carrying a team on his back. After an injury-plagued season, Rokas Gustys is playing like the first-team all-CAA player he was expected to be in October. Deron Powers is a fifth-year senior point guard who led sixth-seeded Hampton on a Cinderella run to the MEAC title two years ago. Eli Pemberton and Brian Bernardi run hot-and-cold, but both players have the ability to drain several 3-pointers in a game. 

The Dutchmen finished 7-11 in the CAA, but they were eyelashes away from being a .500 team or better. You remember the Daniel Dixon-caused funk and four missed tap-ins just before the overtime buzzer against Drexel, don’t you?

“We’re finally the team we thought we would be at the beginning of the year,” Joe Mihalich said this week. “We had a stretch there where Lady Luck wasn’t so good to us and Mother Nature wasn’t so good. I always say at the beginning of the year, I kid that you need the two women in your life to be good to you. And Lady Luck and Mother Nature, both of those women were unkind to us.”

Plus, the #narrative is properly dramatic. The Dutchmen’s potential path to Monday night includes their longest rival, the program that beat them in the title game last season and their most bitter current rival, After all that, upending the local favorite, a fellow ECC school or a fellow Northern Bias Alliance member.

Everything has to go right, and we’ve been doing this long enough to know that doesn’t happen for Hofstra. But why not this year? For the 16th straight year, why can’t we ask why not us? Why can’t chaos finally break out in the CAA Tournament? Ken Pomeroy gives the Dutchmen a 2.2 percent chance of winning the tournament. But why can’t projection models have another bad weekend in a year full of bad weekends? Why can’t we hope the answer to “why not us?” is finally delivered with an exclamation point?

For the last time this season, the thrill of the chase begins again tonight. It’ll probably end as it always does, in heartbreak and angst and various shades of why-do-we-put-ourselves-through-this and a promise to not get swept up in long-shot scenarios next year.

But for now, the possibility still exists that the one day we might get what we want still remains out there, and that one day might be Monday. Our dame is college basketball. Let’s take her for a spin and see what happens, shall we?


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

I’ll Be Quirky: CAA Tournament

Willie Aames: The patron saint of Defiantly Dutch for however long Hofstra's CAA Tournament run lasts.

Good afternoon and welcome to the first-ever #Redundant I’ll Be Quirky: CAA Tournament! Some of you may recognize this as Just The Facts, but since I went the whole season with the I’ll Be Quirky moniker, I have decided to to #Rebrand myself. You may also recall that there were multiple “Just The Facts” in previous seasons, but this will info-packed blog will likely be the only I’ll Be Quirky prior to the preview for Friday night’s game against Delaware. In other words, I’m keeping with the trend in journalism of repackaging stuff and giving you less than you’re used to getting. At least I haven’t hiked your subscription prices.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s a bunch of quirky facts relevant to Hofstra’s draw in the CAA Tournament, which for the Dutchmen will last anywhere from one to four days. So hopefully you need more information as the weekend continues. 

EIGHT WILL HAVE TO BE ENOUGH
The Flying Dutchmen are the eighth seed in the CAA Tournament for the third time since joining the league in the 2001-02 season. The Dutchmen went 1-1 as the eighth seed in 2014, when they beat UNC Wilmington 78-70 in the lone outbracket game before falling to eventual champion Delaware 87-75. In 2008, the Dutchmen dropped an 81-66 “Pillowfight Friday” decision to Towson.

The eighth seed is just 4-14 in its opening round game since the 2001-02 season.

2015: Elon 74, Towson 69 (OT)
2014: Hofstra 78, UNCW 70
2010: Towson 91, UNCW 74
2009: Georgia State 54, Delaware 41

In addition, an eighth seed has advanced to the CAA semifinals just once in the league’s 34-year history. Navy upset top-ranked James Madison in the 1991 quarterfinals, back when the CAA had just eight teams and three tournament rounds.

LONG ODDS FOR A LONG WEEKEND
The four teams playing Friday — the Dutchmen plus seventh-seeded James Madison, ninth-seeded Delaware and 10th-seeded Drexel — are facing long odds as they try to enjoy a lengthy stay in North Charleston. A team relegated to “Pillowfight Friday” has not advanced beyond Saturday’s quarterfinals since 2010 and has gotten to the semifinals only seven times since the 2001-02 season. Only two teams that played on Friday have reached the final. George Mason (2007, grrr) and William & Mary (2008) each lost in the championship game.

In addition, only two “Pillowfight Friday’ participants in a 10-team CAA tournament have won two games: Hofstra in 2002 and UNC Wilmington in 2004. 

2010: No. 5 VCU beats no. 12 Delaware & no. 4 George Mason, loses to no. 1 Old Dominion in semis
2009: No. 11 Towson beats no. 6 Drexel & no. 3 Northeastern, loses to no. 2 George Mason in semis
2008: No. 5 William & Mary beats no. 12 Georgia State, no. 4 Old Dominion & no, 1 VCU, loses to no. 3 George Mason in finals
2007: No. 6 George Mason beats no. 11 James Madison, no. 3 Hofstra (grrr) & no. 2 Old Dominion, loses to no. 1 VCU
2006: No. 5 Northeastern beats no. 12 James Madison & no. 4 Old Dominion, loses to no. 1 UNCW
2004: No. 7 UNC Wilmington beats no. 10 James Madison & no. 2 Drexel, loses to no. 3 George Mason
2002: No. 10 Hofstra beats no. 7 Towson & no. 2 George Mason, loses to no. 3 VCU

ONCE, TWICE, THREE TIMES A VICTORY?
The Dutchmen swept Delaware in the regular season series. While the idea that it’s hard to beat a team three times in one season is a popular cliche, a CAA team that swept the regular season series is 44-17 in a tournament re-rematch since 2001-02. However, the sweeping team is just 5-5 in a third meeting over the last two years. 

Since joining the CAA, the Dutchmen are 5-0 in a third tournament game against a team they swept in the regular season.

2016: Hofstra beats Drexel
2016: Hofstra beats W&M
2014: Hofstra beats UNCW
2011: Hofstra beats W&M
2009: Hofstra beats UNCW

FIRST IMPRESSIONS FOR MIHALICH
Joe Mihalich-coached teams are 15-3 in their first conference tournament games, including 3-0 since Mihalich took over at Hofstra prior to the 2013-14 season. Mihalich last lost his first conference tournament game in 2011, when Niagara fell to Marist, 73-61.

SOMETIMES CINDERELLA DANCES
Over the last five seasons, 13 teams seeded fifth or lower have won a conference tournament.

2016
UConn (6th seed, American Athletic Conference)
Austin Peay (8th seed, Ohio Valley Conference)

2015
VCU (5th seed, Atlantic-10)
Hampton (6th, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference)

2014
Cal Poly (7th, Big West)
Milwaukee (5th, Horizon League)

2013
Albany (5th, America East)
Liberty (5th North Division, tied for 9th-best record among 12 teams, Big South)
North Carolina A&T (7th, Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) 
Western Kentucky (6th, Sun Belt)

2012
Louisville (7th, Big East)
Colorado (6th, Pac-12)
Western Kentucky (7th, Sun Belt)

Saturday, February 25, 2017

I’ll Be Quirky: James Madison

Huh. Publicity in I-AA football. How about that.

The Flying Dutchmen got a bit of revenge on William & Mary by scoring the final 15 points of the game Thursday night to turn another potential Daniel Dixon special into a 96-82 win over the Tribe. The Dutchmen look to end the regular season on a winning note today, when they visit James Madison. Here’s a quick look back at the win over the Fighting Dixons and a look ahead to the Dukes.

THE MOST RECENT GAME SUMMARIZED IN ONE PARAGRAPH
Justin Wright-Foreman continued his astonishing emergence by scoring a career-high 35 points — including 25 in the second half — as the Dutchmen pulled away late from William & Mary. Wright-Foreman scored seven points in the game-ending 15-0 run, including the nostalgic 3-pointer that gave the Dutchmen the lead for good with 3:29 left. The Dutchmen trailed by as many as nine points early in the first half and didn’t lead by more than five points until there was just 61 seconds left in the game. Deron Powers scored 19 points and collected five assists while Eli Pemberton added 16 points. Rokas Gustys fell short of a third straight double-double but pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds to go along with eight points.

3 STARS OF THE GAME (vs. William & Mary 2/23)
3: Justin Wright-Foreman
2: Deron Powers
1: Eli Pemberton

SEASON STANDINGS
Justin Wright-Foreman 54
Deron Powers 33
Eli Pemberton 29
Brian Bernardi 23
Rokas Gustys 20
Ty Greer 9
Hunter Sabety 7
Jamall Robinson 5

EIGHT WILL HAVE TO BE ENOUGH
Despite the win, the Dutchmen were locked into the no. 8 seed in next weekend’s CAA Tournament — and a spot in “Pillowfight Friday” — by virtue of Northeastern’s 105-104 double overtime victory over Elon and James Madison’s 70-64 win over Drexel. 

Northeastern locked up the last bye with the win while James Madison’s win ensured the Dukes of the seventh spot. The Dutchmen can tie the Dukes for seventh place with a win today, but James Madison will earn the seventh seed by virtue of a better record against the CAA’s top six teams.

The Dutchmen will play ninth-seeded Delaware next Friday night at 6 PM. The winner will advance to face top-seeded UNC Wilmington next Saturday at noon. 

RAREFIED AIR FOR JWF
Justin Wright-Foreman scored a career-high 35 points on Thursday. It was just the 25th time a Hofstra player has scored at least 35 points in a single game and the first time since Zeke Upshaw scored 37 points against Richmond on Nov. 19, 2013.  

Wright-Foreman is just the 18th player to score at least 35 points without the game going into overtime. Prior to Wright-Foreman, the last player to score at least 35 points in a game that ended in regulation was Charles Jenkins, who scored 38 points against Fairfield on Nov. 30, 2009.

Bill Thieben, 46 pts vs. Wilkes 1954-55
Steve Nisenson, 45 pts vs. West Chester, 1962-63
Demetrius Dudley 44 pts vs. Central Connecticut, 2/9/93
Bill Thieben, 42 pts vs. Wilkes, 1955-56
Bernard Tomlin, 42 pts vs. Oral Roberts, 1974-75
Rich Laurel, 40 pts vs. American, 1976-77
Speedy Claxton, 40 pts vs. Hartford, 1/16/00
Speedy Claxton, 40 pts vs. Maine, 1/21/00
Speedy Claxton, 39 pts vs. Iona, 12/18/99
Demetrius Dudley, 38 pts vs. Columbia, 1/7/93
Charles Jenkins, 38 pts vs. Fairfield, 11/30/09
Demetrius Dudley, 37 pts at Towson State, 2/6/92
Demetrius Dudley, 37 pts vs. Maine, 1/25/93
Carlos Rivera, 37 pts vs. James Madison, 2/24/07
Demetrius Dudley, 36 pts vs. Air Force, 12/28/91
Antoine Agudio, 36 pts at Fordham, 12/5/07
John Mavroukas, 35 pts at New Hampshire, 1/6/95
JUSTIN WRIGHT-FOREMAN, 35 pts vs. William & Mary, 2/23/17

LEADER! WE LOVE THE LEADER!
Justin Wright-Foreman held at least a share of the team scoring lead Thursday for the 10th straight game, which is the longest streak by a Hofstra player since Charles Jenkins ended his collegiate career by at least sharing the team lead in points for 11 straight games from Feb. 2, 2011 through March 15, 2011. 

Charles Jenkins 11 games (2/2/11-3/15/11 end of season)
Charles Jenkins 10 games (11/13/10-12/18/10)
JUSTIN WRIGHT-FOREMAN 10 games (1/21/17-present)

THE 30/30/30/30 CLUB
Justin Wright-Foreman had his fourth 30-point game of the season on Thursday. He is just the third Dutchman since 2002-03 to record at least four 30-point games in the same season. He joins a club whose other two members are the top two scorers in program history: Charles Jenkins, who had four 30-point games in each of his final three seasons, and Antoine Agudio, who had six 30-point games as a senior in 2007-08.

Antoine Agudio 6 (2007-08)
Charles Jenkins 4 (2008-09)
Charles Jenkins 4 (2009-10)
Charles Jenkins 4 (2010-11)
JUSTIN WRIGHT-FOREMAN 4 (2016-17)

CASHING IN FREE THROWS
Brian Bernardi (4-for-4) and Justin Wright-Foreman (6-for-6) were each perfect from the line Thursday as they extended their respective streaks of consecutive made free throws. Bernardi has made his last 31 free throws dating back to the second half of the Kentucky game on Dec. 11 while Wright-Foreman has drained his last 24 free throws dating back to the second half of the Northeastern game on Feb. 11. Bernardi’s streak is the longest by a Hofstra player in at least five seasons, a stretch in which someone has drained at least 20 straight free throws five times.

BRIAN BERNARDI, 31-for-31 (12/11/16-present)
JUSTIN WRIGHT-FOREMAN (24-for-24 (2/11/17-present)
Juan’ya Green 24-for-24 (11/22/15-12/6/15)
Dion Nesmith 23-for-23 (11/25/14-1/13/15)
Juan’ya Green 21-for-21 (1/28/16-2/4/16)

GUSTYS HITS 900
Junior forward Rokas Gustys pulled down his 900th career rebound in Thursday night’s win and has 910 rebounds in his three-year career. He is just the fourth player in program history to reach 900 rebounds and the first since David Taylor collected 926 rebounds from 1979 through 1982.

WRIGHT-FOREMAN’S SOPHOMORE SURGE
Justin Wright-Foreman has played at least 10 minutes in every game but one this season and has scored in double figures in 24 of 30 games, including the last 20. He scored more than four points and played more than 10 points in just one game last season, when he collected nine points in 17 minutes against Division II Molloy. 

Wright-Foreman, who scored 44 points in 27 games last season, has scored 538 points this season, which is already the fourth-most by a Hofstra sophomore in the CAA era. He is 12 points away from surpassing Loren Stokes for third place and 29 points away from moving past Antoine Agudio into second place. 

The only players in the top 10 to score fewer points as a freshman than Wright-Foreman are David Imes, who scored 25 points as a freshman in 2009-10 before scoring 251 points as a sophomore, and Ziggy Sestokas, who scored 29 points as a freshman in 2005-06 before scoring 219 points as a sophomore.

1.) Charles Jenkins 629 (2009-10)
2.) Antoine Agudio 566 (2005-06)
3.) Loren Stokes 549 (2004-05)
4.) JUSTIN WRIGHT-FOREMAN 538 (2016-17)
5.) Kenny Adeleke 468 (2002-03) 
6.) Rokas Gustys 459 (2015-16)
7.) Mike Radziejewski 265 (2002-03)
8.) David Imes 251 (2010-11)
9.) Woody Souffrant 244 (2002-03)
10.) Ziggy Sestokas 219 (2006-07)

WRIGHT-FOREMAN GOING NATIONAL
With 538 points this season, Justin Wright-Foreman enters today 15th among sophomores in scoring, according to College Basketball Reference. He was 22nd among sophomores entering Thursday. No one ahead of him scored fewer than 100 points as a freshman last season. Albany’s David Nichols, who enters today ranked 23rd among sophomores with 516 points this season, scored 40 points in 15 games last year.

SLOW START FAST FINISH
The Dutchmen are trying to become only the second team in CAA history to finish with seven league wins after opening 1-6 or worse through seven games. William & Mary opened 1-6 and finished 7-11 in 2012-13. The Dutchmen have joined that Tribe team along with the 2001-02 James Madison and 2010-11 Northeastern squads, both of whom finished 6-12, as the only CAA teams to record at least six wins after beginning 1-6 or worse. The previous 22 teams to open 1-6 or worse finished with an average of 3.5 CAA wins. 

OVER THE AIR
Hofstra will provide a video and radio feed of today’s game at the Pride Productions hub.

SCOUTING JAMES MADISON
The Dukes, under rookie head coach Louis Rowe, are 9-21 this season and 7-10 in CAA play. James Madison locked up the no. 7 seed in next week’s CAA Tournament by edging Drexel, 70-64, on Thursday.

The Dutchmen and Dukes had no mutual foes during non-league play. 

The Dutchmen, who were picked sixth in the CAA preseason poll, enter today ranked 181st at KenPom.com and 188th in the RPI, The Dukes, who were picked fifth, are ranked 228th at KenPom.com and 252nd in the RPI.

Per the wise guys in Vegas, for entertainment purposes only, the Dutchmen are 1-point favorites.

James Madison won the first game this season against the Dutchmen on Jan. 5, when the Dukes didn’t trail for the final 39:23 of a 62-54 win at the Arena. The 54 points are the fewest scored this season by the Dutchmen. 

The Dutchmen are third among CAA teams in scoring (77.5 ppg) but are allowing 76.9 ppg, the third-most in the league.

The Dutchmen rank seventh in the CAA in field goal percentage (44.4%) and third in 3-point field goal percentage (37.0%) They are allowing opposing teams to shoot 46.1 percent overall, eighth in the league, and 36.8 percent from beyond the arc, which is last. 

The Dukes ranks ninth in the CAA in scoring (66.2 ppg) and are allowing 69.7 ppg, which is third in the league. 

The Dukes are sixth in the CAA in field goal percentage (44.6%), two-tenths of a percentage point ahead of the Dutchmen, and eighth in 3-point field goal percentage (33.2%). They are fifth in field goal percentage defense (44.2%) and seventh in 3-point field goal percentage defense (35.8%).

ALL-TIME VS. JAMES MADISON
Hofstra is 15-12 against James Madison in a series that began when the Dutchmen joined the CAA prior to the 2001-02 season. The Dukes are going for their third straight regular season sweep and have won six of the last seven regular season games between the clubs, though the Dutchmen beat James Madison, 74-57, in the quarterfinals of the CAA tournament in 2015. 

REPLACING THE MISSING SCORING—AND THEN SOME
The Dutchmen lost a whopping 50.3 ppg from last year’s squad via the graduations of Juan’ya Green (17.8 ppg), Ameen Tanksley 15.9 ppg), Denton Koon (11.4 ppg) and Malik Nichols (5.2 ppg). But they have “found” 56.4 ppg this season via five players who didn’t play for the team in 2015-16, plus the emergence of sophomore Justin Wright-Foreman. 

Justin Wright-Foreman (16.7)***
Eli Pemberton (12.9)
Deron Powers (12.9)
Ty Greer (5.8)
Hunter Sabety (4.3)
Jamall Robinson (3.8)

***The Wright-Foreman average subtracts the 1.2 ppg he averaged last season to better account for the “found” points.

PEMBERTON HITS THE TOP 5
Eli Pemberton, who was the first Hofstra freshman since Antoine Agudio (2004-05) to open his career by scoring in double digits in his first five games, is the 19th Dutchmen freshman in the CAA era to score at least 100 points in his debut season. He is tied with Loren Stokes for fourth place on the CAA-era freshman scoring list.

1.) Antoine Agudio, 452 (2004-05)
2.) Charles Jenkins, 436 (2007-08)
3.) Kenny Adeleke, 433 (2001-02)
4.) Loren Stokes, 374 (2003-04)
4.) ELI PEMBERTON, 374 (2016-17)
6.) Chaz Williams, 325 (2009-10)
7.) Jamall Robinson, 312 (2013-14)
8.) Halil Kanacevic, 294 (2009-10)
9.) Carlos Rivera, 226 (2003-04)
10.) Nathaniel Lester, 189 (2007-08)

THINGS YOU CAN SHOUT ON TWITTER IF CALLS GO DO NOT GO HOFSTRA’S WAY
You won the Division I-AA title bias! (James Madison garnered publicity for I-AA football by winning the national title in January)
@VCUPav made Humpty Hitchens glare at him during a game bias! (The great VCU superfan pestered Hitchens during a Pillowfight Friday game in 2012)
You guys have more old seniors than anyone ever bias! (Hasn’t Jackson Kent been there since 1988?)
Mike Deane is still an assistant bias! (The former Siena, Marquette, Lamar and Wagner head coach remained on staff even after Matt Brady was fired last March)