Saturday, February 4, 2017

I’ll Be Quirky: Drexel

"She said 'if they were laughing at Hofstra you don't need them cause they're not good friends.'"

The Flying Dutchmen got February off to a good start — eventually — on Thursday night, when they came back from a 14-point first half deficit to beat Delaware, 73-65, at the Arena. The Dutchmen will look to earn consecutive wins in CAA play for the first time this season when they host another ECC rival, Drexel, tonight. Here’s a quick look back at the win over the Blue Hens and a look ahead to the Dragons.

Hunter Sabety produced his first Division I double-double (14 points and 15 rebounds) while playing a career-high 32 minutes in his second Hofstra start while Justin Wright-Foreman scored 15 of his game-high 22 points in the second half as the Dutchmen mounted a comeback win over the Blue Hens. Delaware led by 14 with 3:47 left in the first half and carried a 35-24 lead into the half, but the Dutchmen opened the second half on a 30-11 run and took the lead for good on a dunk by Sabety with 14 minutes remaining. The Blue Hens went on a 10-1 run to pull within three with 4:27 left but the Dutchmen scored 10 of the game’s final 12 points while going 6-for-6 from the free throw line. All five starters scored in double figures for the Dutchmen, who received 12 points from Eli Pemberton, 11 points from Deron Powers and 10 points from Brian Bernardi. Sabety had three blocks and three steals while Powers added six assists and turned the ball over just twice in 38 minutes.

3 STARS OF THE GAME (vs. Delaware 2/2)
3: Hunter Sabety
2: Justin Wright-Foreman
1: Deron Powers

Justin Wright-Foreman 37
Deron Powers 26
Eli Pemberton 24
Brian Bernardi 19
Rokas Gustys 18
Ty Greer 9
Hunter Sabety 6
Jamall Robinson 5

The Dutchmen swept the season series from Delaware, whom they edged 58-56 in New-ARK on Dec. 31. It is the third straight season in which the Dutchmen have swept the Blue Hens and the eighth straight season in which someone swept the season series. The Blue Hens won eight straight games over the Dutchmen over a three-season span from 2011-12 through 2013-14. a span in which Delaware earned a pair of wins over Hofstra in the CAA tournament. The Dutchmen beat the Blue Hens six straight times from 2009-10 through 2011-12. 

The Dutchmen came back from a deficit of at least 10 points for the second time this season and the 11th time in four seasons under Joe Mihalich. The Dutchmen trailed Coppin State by 11 points in the first half of a 74-72 win in the season opener on Nov. 11. 

vs. Delaware 2/2/17 (trailed by 14 in 1H, won 73-65)
vs. Coppin State 11/11/16 (trailed by 11 in 1H, won 74-72)
vs. UNCW 2/25/16 ( trailed by 18 in 1H, won 70-69)
vs. Drexel 1/30/16 (trailed by 12 in 2H, won 70-64)
vs. Sacred Heart 12/28/15 (trailed by 11 in 2H, won 80-73)
vs. St. Bonaventure 11/28/15 ( trailed by 10 in 1H, won 89-83)
vs. Canisius 11/13/15 (trailed by 18 in 1H, won 96-85)
vs. Towson 2/18/15 (trailed by 14 in 1H, won 87-82)
vs. UNCW 1/3/15 (trailed by 13 in 1H, won 68-56)
vs. UNCW 2/8/14 (trailed by 15 in 2H, won 61-52)
vs. Charleston 1/11/14 (trailed by 14 in 1H, won 75-71)

In addition, the Dutchmen came back from a double-digit halftime deficit (11 points) to win for the first time since Feb. 25, 2016, when they trailed UNC Wilmington by 16 at halftime of a 71-70 win.

Freshman guard Eli Pemberton returned to the lineup after missing one game with an ankle injury. Pemberton replaced Ty Greer in the starting lineup as Joe Mihalich fielded his seventh different lineup in 24 games. Mihalich employed the same starting lineup in all 34 games last season.

Junior forward Rokas Gustys missed his second straight game with an undisclosed injury. Only Greer, Hunter Sabety, Deron Powers and Justin Wright-Foreman have played in every game this season. The The longest consecutive games streak belongs to Wright-Foreman, who has played in the Dutchmen’s last 39 games.

Hunter Sabety, making his second straight start in place of the injured Rokas Gustys, set career highs in points (14) and minutes (32) for the second time in as many games. Sabety also added a career-high 15 rebounds and 25 points and 20 rebounds over his last two games. He had 24 points and 23 rebounds in the six games prior to his insertion into the starting lineup.

The Dutchmen improved to 72-54 (.571) in regular season games played on or after Feb. 1. Joe Mihalich is 96-52 (.649) in regular season games played on or after Feb. 1.

Sophomore guard Justin Wright-Foreman scored a game-high 22 points Thursday. It was the fourth straight game in which Wright-Foreman has at least shared the team lead in points, the sixth time he has done so during CAA play and the ninth 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, who scored 44 points in 27 games last season, has scored 377 points this season, the most in the CAA era for a Hofstra sophomore who scored fewer than 100 points as a freshman. Entering today, Wright-Foreman ranks 31st among sophomores in scoring, according to College Basketball Reference. Only one player in the top 31 scored fewer than 100 points as a freshman last season. Albany’s David Nichols scored 40 points in 15 games.

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

The Dragons, under rookie head coach Zach Spiker, are 8-16 this season and 2-9 in CAA play. Drexel has dropped two straight, including a 104-103 double overtime loss to Towson on Thursday. It was the second straight game Drexel surrendered at least 100 points. William & Mary knocked off the Dragons. 108-85, in a makeup game Monday. 

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

The Dragons won the first meeting between the teams this season on Jan. 26, when the Dutchmen missed four go-ahead shots in the final six seconds of overtime and fell, 81-80, in Philadelphia. The Dutchmen came back from a 15-point second half deficit to take the lead in the final minute of both regulation and overtime. 

In CAA play, the Dutchmen and Dragons have each beaten Delaware and lost once apiece to James Madison, Charleston, William & Mary and Towson. The Dutchmen have been swept by Elon, which beat Drexel once, and the Dragons have been swept by UNC Wilmington, which beat the Dutchmen once. The Dutchmen beat Northeastern, which swept Drexel.

The Dutchmen, who were picked sixth in the CAA preseason poll, enter today ranked 198th at and 205th in the RPI. The Dragons, who were picked ninth, are ranked 244th at and 242nd in the RPI.

Per the wise guys in Vegas, for entertainment purposes only, the Dutchmen are 8-point favorites.

The Dutchmen rank third among CAA teams in scoring (77.7 ppg) but are allowing 77.3 ppg, the second-most in the league. They are one spot ahead of Drexel in both categories.

The Dutchmen rank fifth in the CAA in field goal percentage (44.6%) and third in 3-point field goal percentage (36.3%) They are allowing opposing teams to shoot 46.0 percent overall, eighth in the league, and 38.8 percent from beyond the arc, which is last. 

The Dragons rank fourth in the CAA in scoring (77.2 ppg) but are allowing 80.7 ppg, which ranks last.

The Dragons are eighth in the CAA in field goal percentage (38.7%) and fifth in 3-point field goal percentage (35.3%). They are ninth in both field goal percentage defense (46.5%) and 3-point field goal percentage defense (37.0%).

Hofstra is 38-46 against Drexel in a series that began during the 1958-59 season. The Dutchmen and Dragons have opposed one another as members of the East Coast Conference, the North Atlantic Conference/America East and the CAA. The only opponent Hofstra has faced more than Drexel is Delaware, whom the Dutchmen played for the 85th time in program history on Thursday.

Drexel’s 81-80 win over the Dutchmen on Jan. 26 snapped Hofstra’s five-game winning streak in the series. The Dragons are seeking their first sweep of the Dutchmen since the 2013-14 season.

The Dutchmen and Drexel are playing tonight for the second time in nine days. The Dutchmen last faced an opponent twice in such a short period of time during the 2006-07 season, when they beat Towson, 79-74, at the Arena on Jan. 18 and edged the host Tigers, 64-60, on Jan. 27.

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” 55.9 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 (14.5)***
Eli Pemberton (13.2)
Deron Powers (13.0)
Ty Greer (7.1)
Hunter Sabety (4.1)
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. With 12 points on Thursday, Pemberton moved past Halil Kanacevic into seventh place on the CAA-era freshman scoring list. He is 10 points away from moving past teammate Jamall Robinson into sixth place.

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.) ELI PEMBERTON, 303 (2016-17)
8.) Halil Kanacevic, 294 (2009-10)
9.) Carlos Rivera, 226 (2003-04)
10.) Nathaniel Lester, 189 (2007-08)

Shaq of the NAC bias! (Malik Rose was a beast and you should have seen him)
I yelled to the cabbie ‘Yo Holmes smell ya later’ bias! (c’mon folks know your iconic ‘90s TV shows)
Carson Wentz bias! (The Division I-AA star now plays QB for the Eagles)
Liberty Bell bias! (c’mon folks know your American history)

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