Thursday, February 23, 2017

I’ll Be Quirky: William & Mary

I don't ask for much, sporting gods, but please don't make me do this again later tonight.

For the second time in as many games, a late comeback attempt against an elite CAA team fell just short for the Flying Dutchmen, who cut a 10-point deficit to one but could not get over the hump in an 83-76 loss to league-leading UNC Wilmington on Saturday. The Dutchmen will look to begin generating some momentum for the CAA Tournament when they visit arch-rival (it’s true, it really is) William & Mary tonight in the PENULTIMATE game of the regular season. Here’s a quick look back at the loss to the Seahawks and a look a head to the Fighting Daniel Dixons. 

The Dutchmen trailed by 11 points with nine minutes remaining but missed three chances to tie or take the lead in the final four minutes as UNC Wilmington escaped with a win at the Arena. Brian Bernardi had a good look at a game-tying 3-pointer with 10 seconds left but the shot rimmed out and the Seahawks iced the game (and made the wise guys happy) by hitting their final four free throws. Justin Wright-Foreman once again scored a team-high 26 points (ho hum) and set a DD-era record by going a perfect 15-for-15 from the line. Eli Pemberton had 17 points and six rebounds while Rokas Gustys produced his second straight double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Deron Powers added 15 points and three assists in his final scheduled home game at Hofstra, but fellow senior Bernardi scored just three points on 1-of-7 shooting. 

3 STARS OF THE GAME (vs. UNC Wilmington 2/18)
3: Justin Wright-Foreman
2: Eli Pemberton
1: Rokas Gustys

Justin Wright-Foreman 51
Deron Powers 31
Eli Pemberton 28
Brian Bernardi 23
Rokas Gustys 20
Ty Greer 9
Hunter Sabety 7
Jamall Robinson 5

Justin Wright-Foreman had the best day at the line of any Hofstra player in at least 22 years on Saturday, when he drained all 15 of his free throw attempts. The 15 free throws without a miss are the most by a Dutchman player since at least 1995 (as far back as my records go). Wright-Foreman is the fifth Hofstra player in the CAA era to enjoy a perfect game at the line (minimum 10 free throw attempts). Zeke Upshaw (12-for-12) previously held the record for most free throws without a miss.

Justin Wright-Foreman, 15-15 vs. UNCW 2/18/17
Zeke Upshaw, 12-12 vs. Towson, 2/22/14
Charles Jenkins, 10-10 vs. Delaware, 1/7/09
Carlos Rivera, 10-10 vs. Siena, 11/29/06
Danny Walker, 10-10 vs. James Madison, 2/8/02

Only one Dutchman player hit as many as eight free throws without a miss in the NAC/America East Era (1994-2001). Jim Shaffer was 8-for-8 against Drexel on March 4, 1995. 

Wright-Foreman is the eighth Division I player this season to hit at least 15 free throws without a miss in a single game. Five players have gone 16-for-16. 

Justin Wright-Foreman scored a team-high 26 points on Saturday. It was the ninth straight game in which he has at least shared the team lead in points, which is the longest streak by a Hofstra player sine Mike Moore led or shared the team lead in points for nine straight games from Nov. 27, 2011 through Jan. 4, 2012. Wright-Foreman, Moore and Charles Jenkins (three times) are the only players to have such streaks since the start of the 2008-09 season.

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 9 games (1/21/17-present)
Mike Moore 9 games (11/27/11-1/4/12)
Charles Jenkins 9 games (2/7/09-3/7/09 end of season)

The Dutchmen and Joe Mihalich suffered a rare loss in the regular season home finale last Saturday. The Dutchmen fell to 20-4 in home finales in the DD era (1993-present). They previously suffered losses in 1994 (Army won 87-76), 2001 (Towson won 61-60) and 2013 (Delaware won 57-56).

Mihalich, meanwhile, dropped to 16-3 in regular season home finales as a head coach. The loss snapped a 10-game home finale winning streak for Mihalich dating back to the 2006 season, when Niagara lost to Manhattan, 82-81. The only other time a Mihalich-coached team lost a home finale was 2001, when Niagara fell to Canisius, 85-70.

Despite losing twice last week, the Dutchmen enter the final weekend of the regular season still harboring slim hopes of earning a first-round bye in the CAA Tournament and getting out of “Pillowfight Friday” a week from tomorrow. Here are are bottom of the CAA standings entering tonight.

6.) Northeastern 7-9
7.) James Madison 6-10
8.) HOFSTRA 5-11
9.) Delaware 5-11
10.) Drexel 3-13

The Dutchmen are technically the eighth seed at the moment by virtue of their season sweep of Delaware.

The Dutchmen will finish sixth if they win their final two games (at William & Mary, at James Madison) and if Northeastern loses its final two games (at Elon, at UNC Wilmington). In this scenario, the Dutchmen would either win the two-way tiebreaker with Northeastern by virtue of sweeping the season series or the three-way tiebreaker with Northeastern and James Madison by virtue of going 3-1 against the Huskies and Dukes. 

The Dutchmen will ensure themselves no worse than the no. 9 seed with either one more win or one more loss by Drexel. The Dutchmen will ensure themselves no worse than the no. 8 seed with one more win and one more loss by Delaware. The Dutchmen will ensure themselves no worse than the no. 7 seed with two more wins and two losses by James Madison. The Dutchmen cannot win a two-way tie for the no. 7 seed with James Madison because the Dukes would have a better record against the teams ahead of them in the standings (4-8) than the Dutchmen (2-9, pending tonight’s game).

Junior Rokas Gustys, in his third game back following a four-game absence due to an undisclosed injury, scored 14 points and pulled down 12 rebounds on Saturday. It was the second straight double-double for Gustys, who hadn’t produced back-to-back double-doubles since Dec. 13-22 against SUNY-Stony Brook and Siena. Gustys has 10 double-doubles this season — five apiece in CAA play and non-league play. 

Justin Wright-Foreman has played at least 10 minutes in every game but one this season and has scored in double figures in 23 of 29 games, including the last 19. 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 503 points this season, which is already the fourth-most by a Hofstra sophomore in the CAA era. He has averaged 21.9 points over his last 19 games. If he maintains that pace over the three guaranteed games the Dutchmen have left (two regular season games and one CAA tournament game), he would surpass both Loren Stokes and Antoine Agudio and sit behind only Charles Jenkins.

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 503 (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)

With 503 points this season, Wright-Foreman enters today 22nd among sophomores 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, who has 516 points this season, scored 40 points in 15 games last year.

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

The Tribe, under 14th-season head coach Tony Shaver, is 15-12 this season and tied for fourth (with Elon) in the CAA with a 9-7 record in league play. William & Mary earned only its second CAA road win last Saturday, when it beat Delaware, 85-64. You probably remember the Tribe’s first CAA road win. 

The Dutchmen and Tribe had no common foes during non-league play.

The Dutchmen, who were picked sixth in the CAA preseason poll, enter today ranked 190th at and 200th in the RPI. The Tribe, which was picked third, is ranked 122nd at and 112th in the RPI.

Per the wise guys in Vegas, for entertainment purposes only, the Tribe are 6-point favorites.

(Warning: The next paragraph may bring about violent flashbacks)

William & Mary won the first game this season against the Dutchmen on Jan. 2, when Daniel Dixon hit a 30-footer as time expired to lift the Tribe to a 95-93 win at the Arena. DAMNIT. Well, you’ve come this far, you may as well relive it here

The Dutchmen are third among CAA teams in scoring (76.9 ppg) but are allowing 76.7 ppg, the third-most in the league.

The Dutchmen rank seventh in the CAA in field goal percentage (44.4%), a little more than one-hundredth of a percentage point behind sixth-place James Madison and less than two-hundredths of a percentage point behind fifth-place Towson, and third in 3-point field goal percentage (36.7%) They are allowing opposing teams to shoot 46.0 percent overall, eighth in the league, and 36.9 percent from beyond the arc, which is last. 

The Tribe ranks second in the CAA in scoring (81.6 ppg) and is allowing 76.5 ppg, which is seventh in the league and two-tenths of a point ahead of the Dutchmen. 

The Tribe leads the CAA in both field goal percentage (49.0%) and 3-point field goal percentage (38.8%). They are fourth in both field goal percentage defense (43.8%) and 3-point field goal percentage defense (34.1%).

Hofstra is 17-12 against William & Mary in a series that began when the Dutchmen joined the CAA prior to the 2001-02 season. The Tribe is seeking its third regular season series sweep (2009-10, 2014-15).

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 (16.1)***
Eli Pemberton (12.8)
Deron Powers (12.7)
Ty Greer (6.0)
Hunter Sabety (4.3)
Jamall Robinson (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. He ranks fifth on the CAA-era freshman scoring list and is 17 points shy of surpassing Loren Stokes for fourth 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.) ELI PEMBERTON, 358 (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)

This is probably the last time Daniel Dixon can hurt us bias! (Probably, there’s always the possibility of re-rematch in the CAA Tournament, or Dixon gaining 10 more years of eligibility)
Our coaches loathe each other bias! (C’mon folks, pay attention)
You also have alums coaching in the NFL bias! (Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and new Bills head coach Sean McDermott both played at William & Mary)
Not that Marcus Thornton bias! (The William & Mary Marcus Thornton is in Italy. The other non-William & Mary Marcus Thornton was traded to the Nets this week and promptly waived.)

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