Thursday, February 16, 2017

I’ll Be Quirky: Charleston

Neither my wife nor I could ask for more, other than maybe a Hofstra win tonight. And six or seven more after that.

The Flying Dutchmen continue to stir in February last Saturday night, when they pulled away from Northeastern in the final four minutes of a 74-64 win at Matthews Arena. The Dutchmen will look to maintain their recent strong play tonight, as well as keep alive their faint hope of earning a bye in the CAA Tournament, when they host Charleston at the Arena. Here’s a quick look back at the win over the Huskies and a look ahead to the Cougars.

Justin Wright-Foreman scored a game-high 25 points and helped fuel a game-ending 18-6 run as the Dutchmen completed a series sweep of Northeastern. Wright-Foreman had eight points in that run, including free throws to start and end the surge. Brian Bernardi had 17 points and three assists while Eli Pemberton added 13 points and four assists. Rokas Gustys returned to action after missing four games with an undisclosed injury and collected a game-high 12 rebounds. Gustys scored just two points, but his layup with 4:23 remaining gave the Dutchmen the lead for good. 

3 STARS OF THE GAME (vs. Northeastern 2/12)
3: Justin Wright-Foreman
2: Brian Bernardi
1: Eli Pemberton

Justin Wright-Foreman 45
Deron Powers 31
Eli Pemberton 26
Brian Bernardi 21
Rokas Gustys 18
Ty Greer 9
Hunter Sabety 7
Jamall Robinson 5

The win over Northeastern bolstered the Dutchmen’s admittedly slim hopes of earning a first-round  bye int he CAA Tournament and getting out of “Pillowfight Friday.” The Dutchmen are tied for seventh place, two games behind sixth-place Northeastern, but would win any tiebreaker with the Huskies by virtue of sweeping the season series. Here are are bottom of the CAA standings entering today.

6.) Northeastern 7-7
7.) James Madison 5-9
8.) HOFSTRA 5-9
9.) Delaware 4-10
10.) Drexel 3-11

James Madison currently has the tiebreaker for seventh place over the Dutchmen by virtue of a 62-54 win at Hofstra on Jan. 5. The Dutchmen visit James Madison in the regular season finale Feb. 25. 

The Dutchmen, Delaware and Drexel all went 1-6 through seven CAA games this season, but at 5-9 in league play, the Dutchmen have already exceeded the average finish of the 22 teams that opened 1-6 or worse between 2001-02 and 2015-16. Those 22 teams finished with an average of 3.5 CAA wins.

In addition, the Dutchmen have also matched or exceeded the CAA win total of 18 of their predecessors. With one more win, they will become just the fourth such team to win as many as six CAA games after starting 1-6 or worse. William & Mary finished 7-11 in 2012-13 while James Madison (2001-02) and Northeastern (2010-11) each went 6-12.

Junior forward Rokas Gustys returned after missing four straight game with an undisclosed injury. Only Greer, Hunter Sabety, Deron Powers and Justin Wright-Foreman have played in every game this season. The longest consecutive games streak belongs to Wright-Foreman, who has played in the Dutchmen’s last 42 games. Sophomore Desuire Buie is out for the season with a knee injury suffered in November.

Sophomore guard Justin Wright-Foreman scored a team- and game-high 25 points on Saturday. It was the seventh straight game in which Wright-Foreman has at least shared the team lead in points, the ninth time he has done so during CAA play and the 12th time overall this season.
Wright-Foreman has played at least 10 minutes in every game but one this season and has scored in double figures in 21 of 27 games, including the last 17. 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 451 points this season, which is already the sixth-most by a Hofstra sophomore in the CAA era. He is nine points away from moving past teammate Rokas Gustys into fifth place and 18 points away from surpassing Kenny Adeleke for fourth place. Wright-Foreman has averaged 21.4 points over his last 17 games. If he maintains that pace over the five guaranteed games the Dutchmen have left (four regular season games and one CAA tournament game), he would surpass Loren Stokes for third place on the list.

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.) Kenny Adeleke 468 (2002-03) 
5.) Rokas Gustys 459 (2015-16)
6.) JUSTIN WRIGHT-FOREMAN 451 (2016-17)
7.) Mike Radziejewski 265 (2002-03)
8.) David Imes 251 (2010-11)
9.) Woody Souffrant 244 (2002-03)
10.) Ziggy Sestokas 219 (2006-07)

With 451 points this season, Wright-Foreman enters today tied for 27th among sophomores (with UNC Wilmington’s C.J. Bryce) in scoring, according to College Basketball Reference. Only one player ahead of Wright-Foreman scored fewer than 100 points as a freshman last season. Albany’s David Nichols scored 40 points in 15 games.

Tonight's game will be broadcast live on SNY (and other American Sports Network affiliates outside the New York area). Hofstra will provide a radio feed at the Pride Productions hub.

The Cougars, under third-year head coach Earl Grant, are 19-8 this season and 10-4 in CAA play. Charleston, which is alone in second place in the CAA and one game behind UNC Wilmington, has lost two straight, including an 89-79 defeat at William & Mary last Saturday.

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

The Dutchmen, who were picked sixth in the CAA preseason poll, enter today ranked 190th at and 196th in the RPI. The Cougars, who were picked fourth, are ranked 94th at and 68th in the RPI. 

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

In CAA play, the Dutchmen have swept Delaware, which lost its first game this season to Charleston, and Northeastern, which beat Charleston. The Dutchmen split with Drexel, which lost to Charleston in the first game between the teams. The Cougars have swept Elon, which swept the Dutchmen, and James Madison, which beat the Dutchmen in the first meeting this season. The Cougars split with Towson, which swept the Dutchmen, as well as William & Mary and UNC Wilmington, each of whom have beaten the Dutchmen. 

Charleston won the first game this season against the Dutchmen on Jan. 7, when the host Cougars led for the final 26-plus minutes of a 77-71 victory.

The Dutchmen are third among CAA teams in scoring (77.1 ppg) but are allowing 76.5 ppg, the second-most in the league.

The Dutchmen rank seventh in the CAA in field goal percentage (44.2%), less than one-hundredth of a percentage point behind both sixth-place Towson and fifth-place James Madison, and third in 3-point field goal percentage (36.8%) They are allowing opposing teams to shoot 45.7 percent overall, eighth in the league, and 37.1 percent from beyond the arc, which is last. 

The Cougars rank eighth in the CAA in scoring (67.4 ppg) but are allowing just 63.1 ppg, which is first in the league and nearly six points fewer than second-place James Madison.

The Cougars are ninth in the CAA in field goal percentage (41.7%), one-hundredth of a point ahead of Delaware, eighth in 3-point field goal percentage (32.4%). They are second in field goal percentage defense (41.7%) and first in 3-point field goal percentage defense (29.5%).

Hofstra is 4-3 against Charleston in a series that began with the Cougars joining the CAA prior to the 2013-14 season. Charleston is looking for its first series sweep.

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 (15.5)***
Eli Pemberton (13.1)
Deron Powers (13.0)
Ty Greer (6.4)
Hunter Sabety (4.4)
Jamall Robinson (4.0)

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

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 already the 19th Dutchmen freshman in the CAA era to score at least 100 points in his debut season. He ranks fifth 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)
5.) ELI PEMBERTON, 340 (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)

Neutral site CAA Tournament my ass bias! (Tom Yeager’s going-away gift to the southern schools was giving the tournament to the North Charleston Coliseum for three years, beginning this season)
You no longer have an underhanded free throw shooter bias! (Canyon Berry, son of Rick, transferred to Florida as a graduate student)
Edwin McCain sang my wedding song bias! (Per Wikipedia, which is never wrong, the “I Could Not Ask For More” troubadour attended Charleston for a short time)

Logan Huntzberger is probably the father of Rory Gilmore’s baby! (Matt Czuchry, who portrayed the dick Logan, graduated from Charleston)

No comments: