Thursday, February 2, 2017

I’ll Be Quirky: Delaware

Remember when the CAA held its tournament at an arena easily reachable from the northeast? Joe Flacco does!

A brutal January came to an appropriate conclusion on Saturday for the undermanned Flying Dutchmen, who surged back from an 11-point second half deficit to briefly take the lead before falling to Elon, 84-70, at the Arena. The Dutchmen will hope a new month signifies a change in fortunes tonight, when they host longtime rival Delaware at the Arena in a battle to avoid sole possession of last place in the CAA. Here’s a quick look back at the loss to Elon and a look ahead to the Fighting Blue Hens.

Brian Bernardi and Justin Wright-Foreman each scored 20 points for the Dutchmen, who opened the second half on a 23-10 run but were outscored 35-17 the rest of the way. Deron Powers added 14 points and Hunter Sabety set career highs by scoring 11 points in 24 minutes in place of Rokas Gustys, who was out with a “lower-body injury.” Eli Pemberton was also out with an ankle injury. The absences created more playing time for Ty Greer, who returned to the starting lineup, and Andre Walker, but the duo combined for no points and nine rebounds in 33 minutes. 

3 STARS OF THE GAME (vs. Elon 1/28)
3: Brian Bernardi
2: Justin Wright-Foreman
1: Hunter Sabety

Justin Wright-Foreman 35
Deron Powers 25
Eli Pemberton 24
Brian Bernardi 19
Rokas Gustys 18
Ty Greer 9
Jamall Robinson 5
Hunter Sabety 3

With Eli Pemberton and Rokas Gustys both out injured Saturday, Ty Greer returned to the starting lineup for the first time since Jan. 5 while Hunter Sabety made the first start of his Hofstra career. The starting lineup was the sixth different one utilized this season by Joe Mihalich, who fielded the same lineup in all 33 games last season.

Only Greer, Sabety, Deron Powers and Justin Wright-Foreman have played in every game this season. Gustys’ absence was his first since Dec. 31, 2014 and snapped his consecutive games streak at 77. The The longest consecutive games streak belongs to Wright-Foreman, who has played in the Dutchmen’s last 38 games.

Junior forward Ty Greer was scoreless in 22 minutes before fouling out Saturday. According to the Play Index at College Basketball Reference, it was the ninth time since 2010-11 (when the site began tracking individual games) that a Hofstra player has fouled out without scoring a point. Remarkably, Greer played the fourth-most minutes of anyone in this club. The full list can be found here.

With Saturday’s loss, the Dutchmen finished January at 1-8. It is only the second time in the CAA era the Dutchmen won fewer than two games in January, The 2011-12 team went 1-9 in January. The Dutchmen are 70-83 (.458) in January in the CAA era. 

In addition, the 1-8 month was the worst January for a Joe Mihalich-coached team since Niagara went 1-4 in January 2011. It was only the fourth losing January for Mihalich in 18 seasons as a head coach. Mihalich-coached teams are 92-82 (.529) in January.

History is on the side of the Dutchmen and Mihalich as they look to turn the season around. Since joining the CAA in 2001-02, the Dutchmen are 71-54 (.568) in regular season games played on or after Feb. 1. While the last three sub-.500 Januarys (2012, 2013, 2014) have been followed by sub-.500 Februarys, the Dutchmen bounced back from a losing January to post a winning record in February in 2004 (6-2), 2005 (7-1), 2008 (6-3) and 2010 (7-1). The possible template for the 2016-17 Dutchmen was laid down by the 2009-10 Dutchmen, who went 2-7 in January before surging in February.

In addition, Mihalich is 95-52 (.646) in regular season games in February or March. His Niagara teams followed up sub-.500 Januarys with winning Februarys in 2010 (5-2) and 2011 (5-3).

Sophomore guard Justin Wright-Foreman tied for the team lead in scoring Saturday, when he and senior guard Brian Bernardi each scored 20 points. It was the third straight game in which Wright-Foreman has at least shared the team lead in points, the fifth time he has done so during CAA play and the eighth 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 17 of 23 games. 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 has scored 355 points this season, the most in the CAA era for a Hofstra sophomore who scored fewer than 100 points as a freshman. 

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

The Blue Hens, under rookie head coach Martin Ingelsby, are 9-14 this season and 2-8 in CAA play. Delaware beat James Madison, 66-61, in its most recent game last Saturday. 

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 won the first meeting this season between the rivals on Dec. 31, when they edged Delaware 58-56 in the CAA opener in New-ARK. Both the Dutchmen and Blue Hens have beaten Northeastern and lost to Charleston, UNC-Wilmington, Drexel, William & Mary and Towson, the latter of whom swept Delaware.

The Dutchmen, who were picked sixth in the CAA preseason poll, enter today ranked 197th at and 212th in the RPI. The Blue Hens, who were picked 10th, are ranked 298th at and 265th in the RPI.

Per the wise guys in Vegas, for entertainment purposes only, the Dutchmen are 10 1/2-point favorites.

The Dutchmen rank third among CAA teams in scoring (77.9 ppg) but are also allowing 77.9 ppg, the second-most in the league.

The Dutchmen rank fifth in the CAA in field goal percentage (44.8%) and third in 3-point field goal percentage (36.2%) They are allowing opposing teams to shoot 46.1 percent overall, eighth in the league, and 39.5 percent from beyond the arc, which is last. 

The Blue Hens rank last in the CAA in scoring (63.4 ppg) and are allowing 69.2 ppg, which is fifth in the CAA.

The Blue Hens are ninth in the CAA in field goal percentage (40.6%), less than one-tenth of a percentage point ahead of Charleston, and ninth in 3-point field goal percentage (30.9%). They are sixth in field goal percentage defense (43.3%) and third in 3-point field goal percentage defense (33.6%).

Hofstra is 53-31 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 played for the 84th time last week. 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 earned their fifth straight win over Delaware with a 58-56 victory on Dec. 31. The current winning streak by the Dutchmen comes immediately after Delaware won seven straight from 2011-12 through 2013-14. 

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” 55.6 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 (14.2)***
Eli Pemberton (13.2)
Deron Powers (13.1)
Ty Greer (7.3)
Jamall Robinson (4.1)
Hunter Sabety (3.7)

***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. Pemberton currently ranks eighth on the CAA-era freshman scoring list and is four points away from moving past Halil Kanacevic, though his short-term availability is unknown after he suffered an ankle injury last Thursday and missed Saturday’s game against Drexel.

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.) Chaz Williams, 325 (2009-10)
6.) Jamall Robinson, 312 (2013-14)
7.) Halil Kanacevic, 294 (2009-10)
8.) ELI PEMBERTON, 291 (2016-17)
9.) Carlos Rivera, 226 (2003-04)
10.) Nathaniel Lester, 189 (2007-08)

Junior forward Rokas Gustys became the fourth-leading rebounder in program history Thursday night, when he collected 10 rebounds against Drexel. Gustys, who moved past Gary Cheslock, has more rebounds than anyone who has played at Hofstra in the last 35 seasons.

3.) David Taylor, 926 (1979-82)
4.) ROKAS GUSTYS, 859 (2014-present)
3.) Gary Cheslock, 857 (1978-81)

Mike Pegues bias! (Pegues starred for the Blue Hens in the late ‘90s and led them to consecutive America East titles in 1998 and 1999)
Joe Biden bias! (The recent Vice President is a Delaware graduate)
Joe Flacco bias! (The Ravens quarterback turned into a first-round pick at Delaware)
Jeff Pearlman bias! (The writer is a Delaware graduate and ran cross country for the Blue Hens)

No comments: