Monday, March 11, 2019

I'll Be Quirky: Delaware (CAA semifinals)

Troy McClure (RIP the late, great Phil Hartman) knows how many times the Dutchmen have to beat Delaware to get to the CAA championship game.

It got a little hairy for a little while in the second half Sunday afternoon for the Flying Dutchmen, who lost all of a 12-point lead but never fell behind on their way to a 76-67 win over James Madison in the CAA quarterfinals. The Dutchmen will look to advance to the CAA championship game for the third time in program history tonight, when they face fifth-seeded Delaware in a semifinal matchup. Here’s a look back at the win over the Dukes and a look ahead to the Blue Hens as well as some odds and ends regarding the CAA Tournament.

Justin Wright-Foreman (a team-high 17 points and four assists) remained stuck in single digits well into the second half, but Jacquil Taylor (16 points, 11 rebounds, five blocks, two steals) had an absolutely monstrous game as the Dutchmen held off a series of comebacks by James Madison. The Dutchmen led by 12 points in the first half but allowed the Dukes to tie the game twice, the last time at 49-49 with 11:43 left. But Tareq Coburn hit the go-ahead basket on the next trip up the floor and then blocked a shot that led to a 3-pointer by Jalen Ray before Wright-Foreman capped a 7-0 run with a jumper. The Dukes got within three points at 64-61 with 3:01 left before Wright-Foreman scored six points in a game-ending 12-6 run. Ray had 13 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals in 28 minutes off the bench for the Dutchmen, who also received double-digit scoring efforts from Eli Pemberton (13 points) and Desure Buie (10 points).

3 STARS OF THE GAME (vs. James Madison 3/10)
3: Jacquil Taylor
2: Jalen Ray
1: Justin Wright-Foreman

Justin Wright-Foreman 74
Eli Pemberton 36
Desure Buie 28
Jacquil Taylor 24
Tareq Coburn 15
Jalen Ray 11
Stafford Trueheart 2
Kenny Wormley 1
Dan Dwyer 1

COACHSPEAK: “That’s what you get for finishing first? To play a team like that? I mean, every game’s a battle, every game’s a war. Great respect for Lou Rowe and all the kids at JMU. They beat us the last time we played them in a heckuva game and could have beat us today. We found a way to win.”

No! And unlike so many recent non-unicorn scores, it didn’t take that much digging into the media guide to find the most recent 76-67 victory for the Dutchmen, who beat Northeastern by that score on Jan. 8, 2011. The Dutchmen have recorded 10 unicorn scores this season. The term unicorn score was coined by Mets superfan, historian and blogger Greg Prince to describe a score by which the Mets had never previously won

The win Sunday marked the second straight game in which the Dutchmen never trailed and the fourth time they’ve lead wire-to-wire this season. The Dutchmen never trailed in a 92-70 win over Delaware in the regular season finale Mar. 2. They also led wire-to-wire in an 89-75 wino ver Drexel on Dec. 30 and a 102-71 victory over Elon on Feb. 7. In addition, the win marked the first time the Dutchmen have not trailed in a CAA Tournament win since they beat Drexel, 80-67, in a quarterfinal game on Mar. 5, 2016.

The win Sunday afternoon was the first in CAA Tournament play for the Dutchmen since a 70-67 victory over William & Mary in a semifinal game on Mar. 6, 2016. That was so long ago, everybody thought the idea of a celebrity winning the presidency was a funny idea!

The Dutchmen earned their 26th win of the season Sunday, which ties the school record set by the 2005-06 team that reached the NIT quarterfinals (grr) and the 2000-01 team that won the America East and made the NCAA Tournament. This is the 22nd time Hofstra has won at least 20 games in a season.

The win by the Dutchmen marked the 28th straight season in which the CAA’s no. 1 seed won its first tournament game. The no. 1 seed in the CAA is 36-1 in its opener, with the only loss happening when James Madison fell to Navy, 85-82, in 1991. I was still in high school then!

In addition, the no. 1 seed in Hofstra’s conference tournament has now won its opener 25 straight times. The only no. 1 seed to fall in its opener in the Defiantly Dutch era was the very first no. 1 seed. Troy State, which was never a state even though the East Coast Conference was definitely a league, received a bye to the 1994 ECC semifinals and fell to the Flying Dutchmen, 90-89, in overtime.

Jacquil Taylor was 7-for-7 from the field Saturday afternoon and 2-for-3 from the line on his way to scoring 16 points. The missed free throw cost him a chance to record his second Christian Laettner — going perfect from the field and the free throw line, except sans stomping on someone — of the season. Taylor scored 18 points on 7-of-7 shooting from the field and 4-of-4 shooting from the free throw line against Division III Rosemont on Dec. 22.

However, the perfect shooting game was the sixth of the season for Taylor (minimum five attempts). That’s more than any Hofstra player in the CAA era (2001-present) has had in his entire career. Rokas Gustys had five such perfect games, including a 5-for-5 effort against UNC Wilmington in his collegiate finale last March 4. Gustys and Taylor are the only Dutchmen to enjoy perfect shooting games in the CAA Tournament.

With his  big game Sunday, Jacquil Taylor moved ahed of Hunter Sabety in his attempt to become the most effective field goal shooter of the DD era. Taylor is now shooting exactly 73 percent (116-of-159) this season, putting him just ahead of Sabety, who shot 72.6 percent last season (53-of-73). Sabety is the only Hofsra player to shoot at least 70 percent form the field since 1993-94 (minimum two field goal attempts per game).

Jacquil Taylor also had five blocks Sunday. He is just the third CAA player to record at least five blocks in a tournament game since 2010-11, the first season for which individual game data is available at College Basketball Reference. Austin Williams had seven blocks for Drexel against James Madison on Mar. 3, 2018 and Andre Nation had five blocks for James Madison against Delaware on Mar. 10, 2013.

With his 17 points against James Madison, Justin Wright-Foreman extended his streak of double-digit scoring efforts to 85 straight games, the most ever by a Hofstra player as well as the most ever by a CAA player. In addition, Wright-Foreman’s streak is now the second-longest active streak in Division I, per Hofstra SID Stephen Gorchov. 

Justin Wright-Foreman: 85 straight games 12/11/16-present
Charles Jenkins 58 straight games 12/12/09-3/15/11*** 
Antoine Agudio 48 straight games 3/6/06-1/17/08****
Juan’ya Green: 43 straight games 11/14/14-12/9/15 
Loren Stokes 41 straight games 2/20/06-3/14/07*** 
Loren Stokes: 34 straight games 1/14/04-1/31/05

***streak ended with the end of the player’s Hofstra career
****Agudio had three DNPs during his streak

Per Gorchov, Wright-Foreman’s streak is the eighth-longest in history. This is some rarefied air. 

Justin Wright-Foreman moved into third place on the all-time Hofstra scoring list last Sunday, when he scored 17 points against James Madison to leapfrog Steve Nisenson. Wright-Foreman enters today needing 50 points to move past Antoine Agudio into second place, so he’ll probably spend more than one game in third place. Possibly.

1.) Charles Jenkins 2,513 (2007-11)
2.) Antoine Agudio 2,276 (2005-08)
3.) JUSTIN WRIGHT-FOREMAN 2,227 (2015-present)
3.) Steve Nisenson 2,222 (1962-65)
5.) Loren Stokes 2,148 (2003-07)
6.) Rich Laurel 2,102 (1973-77)
7.) Bill Thieben 2,045 (1953-56)
8.) Speedy Claxton, 2,015 (1996-2000)
9.) David Taylor 1,818 (1979-83)
10.) Norman Richardson 1,677 (1997-2001)

Justin Wright-Foreman’s double-digit scoring streak was in far more danger than usual Sunday afternoon, when Wright-Foreman didn’t score his 10th point until he sank a 3-pointer with 6:20 left in the game. It was the longest Wright-Foreman went before reaching double digits this season and his nearest miss since Feb. 22, 2018, when James Madison held him in single digits until there was 5:32 left in the game.

For all intents and purposes, the two games against James Madison mark the closest Wright-Foreman has come to not extending his streak, which began when he hit double figures with 1:46 left against Kentucky on Dec. 11, 2016. Technically, Wright-Foreman came closest to not extending the streak on Jan. 14, 2017, when he hit double figures with 1:13 left against UNC Wilmington to run his streak to nine games.

Overall during the streak, Wright-Foreman has remained in single digits into the second half 35 times. 

Eli Pemberton, the newest member of the Hofstra 1,000-point club, moved into 15th place on the all-time scoring list Sunday, when he scored 13 points against James Madison to surpass Barry White. Pemberton could gain another spot tonight. He needs 14 points to move past Ken Rood for 14th place.

14.) Ken Rood 1,368 (1973-77)
15.) ELI PEMBERTON 1,355 (2016-present)
16.) Barry White 1,344 (1966-69)
17.) Dave Bell 1,330 (1969-72)
18.) Kenny Adeleke 1,296 (2001-04)
19.) Mike Tilley 1,286 (1963-66)
20.) Roberto Gittens 1,240 (1997-2001)

Desure Buie continued his push to win the national free throw shooting title Sunday, when he went 2-for-2 from the line against James Madison. Buie has made 26 straight free throws dating back to Feb. 21 to increase his season average to 91.3 percent (95-of-104), which has vaulted him into third in the nation through yesterday’s games. Buie is behind only Davide Moretti of Texas Tech (93.3 percent) and Gavin Peppers of Nicholls State (92.4 percent), though Buie has attempted more free throws than either Moretti or Peppers.

Buie’s recent surge at the free throw line has also put him back into contention to break the Hofstra single-season record for free-throw percentage, which is held by Steve Nisenson, who shot 91.3 percent during the 1963-64 season. Nisenson and Brian Appel (90.5 percent during the 1977-78 season) are the only players to shoot at least 90 percent from the line over a full season for the Dutchmen.

The 26 straight made free throws is only the second-longest streak of the season for Desure Buie, who drained 31 straight free throws from Nov. 11 through Dec. 28. That was the second-longest single-season streak of the Joe Mihalich era, one free throw shy of the streak authored by Brian Bernardi during the 2016-17 season.

Brian Bernardi, 32-for-32 (12/11/16-2/25/17)
DESURE BUIE, 31-for-31 (11/11/18-12/28/18)
Justin Wright-Foreman, 31-for-31 (2/11/17-11/10/17)***
DESURE BUIE, 26-for-26 (2/21/19-present)
Juan’ya Green 24-for-24 (11/22/15-12/6/15)

***Wright-Foreman hit his final 29 free throw attempts of the 2016-17 season and his first two attempts of the 2017-18 season

THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE FREE (which unfortunately was released in 1992)
You’re not wrong if you’re thinking you’ve never seen a Dutchmen team shoot free throws this well. The Dutchmen were 16-of-22 from the line against James Madison, which actually dropped their season-long percentage to 79.5 percent. That was, and I still can’t believe I’m typing these words, good enough for the second-best percentage in the country through yesterday’s games. The Dutchmen rank just behind Incarnate Word (81.0 percent) and just ahead of Mississippi State (78.5 percent), California Baptist (78.3 percent) and Central Connecticut State (78.2 percent, or technically 78.23 percent). Hey! That’s my parents’ alma mater! Central Connecticut is microscopically ahead of Hampton, which is technically at 78.17 percent. At this rate, the Dutchmen would shatter the program record for free throw percentage set by the 2010-11 team, which drained 76.1 percent of its free throws.

In addition, as reader Evan Jones notes, the Dutchmen are a little behind the pace set last season by William & Mary, which set the single-season CAA record by shooting .810 from the free throw line. Technically, the Tribe were at 81.049 percent (479-for-591).

Last year’s Dutchmen shot 68.2 percent from the free throw line. But subtracting Rokas Gustys’ performance (45-of-120, 37.5 percent), the Dutchmen would have shot 74.7 percent, which would have been the third-best single-season mark in program history.

Tonight’s game will be aired live on CBS Sports Network. That’s channel 215 if you have Cablevision or Optimum or Altice or whatever the hell our local overlords are called now. Hofstra will also provide audio and live stats at the Pride Productions hub.

The Dutchmen are in the CAA semifinals for the first time since 2016 and the seventh time since joining the league prior to the 2001-02 season. Hofstra fell in the semifinals in 2002, 2005, 2011 and 2015 and reached the title game before losing in 2006 and 2016.

This is the Dutchmen’s 12th trip to the conference semifinals dating back to 1994. Hofstra fell in the America East semifinals in 1998 and 1999 and won it all in the ECC in 1994 and in the America East in 2000 and 2001.

The Dutchmen, who swept Delaware in the regular season, will need to beat the Blue Hens a third time to get to the CAA championship game (obviously). It’s a popular talking point that it’s hard to beat a team three times in one season, but does the data back that up?

Not really, at least in the CAA. (Don’t hex it, idiot) Tonight marks the 72nd time since 2002 that a team that swept an opponent faces it a third time in the CAA Tournament. The team that swept the regular season series is 51-20 (a winning percentage of .718) in the third game, though just 1-1 this year after Elon fell to UNC Wilmington in Slap-And-Tickle Saturday and Northeastern beat UNCW on Sunday.

This marks the seventh straight season a team that lost two regular season meetings won the third game in the tournament. However, it hasn’t happened more than once since 2015, when the teams that were swept in the regular season went 4-2 in tournament re-rematches. Here is the raw data:

2019: Elon loses to UNCW, Northeastern beats UNCW
2018: Northeastern beats Delaware, Towson loses to W&M, Northeastern beats UNCW, Charleston beats Northeastern
2017: Hofstra loses to Delaware, JMU beats Drexel, Charleston beats JMU, UNCW beats Delaware
2016: Elon loses to Drexel, Hofstra beats Drexel, UNCW beats Charleston, Hofstra beats W&M
2015: Towson loses to Elon, Drexel loses to Charleston, UNCW beats Charleston, JMU loses to Hofstra, UNCW loses to Northeastern. W&M beats Hofstra
2014: Hofstra beats UNCW, Delaware beats Hofstra, Delaware beats Northeastern, Delaware beats W&M, Towson beats JMU, Towson loses to W&M
2013: Delaware beats Hofstra, JMU beats W&M, Northeastern beats GMU, JMU beats Delaware
2012: Delaware beats Towson
2011: Drexel beats Towson, Delaware beats Northeastern, Hofstra beats W&M
2010: Drexel loses to JMU, ODU beats Towson, ODU beats W&M
2009: Hofstra beats UNCW, VCU beats Georgia State, JMU beats W&M, Drexel loses to Towson, GMU beats Towson
2008: VCU loses to W&M, UNCW loses to GMU
2007: VCU beats Georgia State, VCU beats GMU, GMU beats JMU, ODU loses to GMU, Drexel beats Northeastern, Northeastern beats Delaware, W&M loses to Georgia State
2006: VCU beats W&M, Northeastern beats JMU, Towson loses to Georgia State, UNCW beats Delaware
2005: VCU beats Delaware, ODU beats W&M, Drexel loses to Hofstra
2004: VCU beats Towson, VCU beats ODU, GMU beats UNCW, UNCW beats JMU 
2003: Mason loses to Delaware, UNCW beats Hofstra, UNCW beats Drexel, UNCW beats Delaware, JMU beats Towson 
2002: VCU beats ODU, GMU loses to Hofstra, W&M loses to JMU, UNCW beats JMU

The Flying Dutchmen will be facing in the CAA Tournament a team they swept in the regular season for the seventh time an facing in a conference tournament a foe they swept in the regular season for the 14th time in program history. Hofstra is 10-3 in the re-rematches, though an 11-game, three-conference, two-decade winning streak in such games ended with an 81-76 loss to Delaware in a Pillowfight Friday game in 2017. Here is the list of Hofstra’s re-rematches in conference tournament play against an opponent it swept in the regular season.

2017: Lost to Delaware
2016: Beat Drexel
2016: Beat William & Mary
2014: Beat UNC Wilmington
2011: Beat William & Mary
2009: Beat UNC Wilmington
2001: Beat Vermont (America East)
2001: Beat Maine (America East)
2000: Beat Boston U. (America East)
2000: Beat Drexel (America East)
1992: Beat UMBC (East Coast Conference)
1991: Lost to UMBC (East Coast Conference)
1984: Lost to Lafayette (East Coast Conference)

Fifth-seeded Delaware is the lowest seed to advance to the CAA Tournament this year, which extends the CAA’s remarkable streak of a Cinderella-free tournament. This marks the 10th straight year in which no team seeded lower than sixth has reached the semifinals. And only twice in that span has a no. 6 seed gotten to the semifinals (UNC Wilmington last year, grr, and Northeastern in 2016).

The last team to mount a Cinderella run in the CAA Tournament was Towson, which reached the semifinals as an 11 seed in 2009. Since 2002, only three teams seeded lower than sixth have made it to the semifinals. Hofstra reached the semifinals as a 10 seed in 2002 and UNC Wilmington mounted a run to the semifinals as a seven seed in 2004. None of those three teams made the finals. Here are the list of semifinal seeds dating back to 2002.

2019: 1-2-3-5
2018: 1-2-4-6
2017: 1-2-3-4
2016: 1-2-5-6
2015: 1-2-3-5
2014: 1-2-3-5
2013: 1-2-3-4***
2012: 1-2-3-4
2011: 1-2-3-4
2010: 1-2-3-5
2009: 1-2-4-11
2008: 1-2-3-5
2007: 1-2-4-6
2006: 1-2-3-5
2005: 1-2-3-5
2004: 1-2-4-7
2003: 1-2-3-5
2002: 1-3-5-10

***Northeastern, the top seed in 2013, received a bye into the semifinals in a seven-team tournament

The Dutchmen will be facing Delaware in conference tournament play for the eighth time — all since 1994-95, when the Dutchmen joined the North Atlantic Conference. The eight conference tournament games are the most for Hofstra against any opponent in the NAC/America East/CAA era. 

The Dutchmen are 2-5 in conference tournament games against Delaware, with both wins coming in consecutive America East championship games. Hofstra has lost its last three tourney games against the Blue Hens, all since 2013.

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
2017 CAA PFF: Delaware 81-76

The Blue Hens, under third-year head coach Martin Ingelsby, advanced to the semifinals by storming back from a 16-point first half deficit Sunday afternoon to stun William & Mary, 85-79. This is the first trip to the CAA semifinals for Delaware since it won the title in 2014. The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Blue Hens, who improved to 16-14 and earned the no. 5 seed by going 8-10 in CAA play. 

The Dutchmen and Blue Hens had two common foes during non-league play. Both teams lost to Maryland while the Dutchmen beat SUNY-Stony Brook Dec. 19, three days after SUNY-Stony Brook beat Delaware 

The Dutchmen, who were picked third in the CAA preseason poll, were ranked 84th at this morning. The Blue Hens, who were picked seventh, were ranked 263rd at as of early this morning.

According to, the Dutchmen rank first in the CAA in conference-only offensive efficiency (123.2) and are fourth in conference-only defensive efficiency (107.8). The Blue Hens rank ninth in the CAA in conference-only offensive efficiency (103.4) and are seventh in conference-only defensive efficiency (110.9).

The Blue Hens are led by senior Eric Carter, who was named to the all-CAA second team and is averaging a team-high 9.9 rebounds per game while ranking second in scoring at 15.9 points per game. Carter is just behind sophomore guar Ryan Allen, who is averaging 16.0 ppg. Freshman guard Ithiel Horton, who was named to the CAA all-rookie team, is averaging 13.0 ppg while sophomore guard Kevin Anderson is averaging 10.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg and a team-best 3.8 assists per game. predicts an 81-70 win by Hofstra. Per the wise guys in Vegas, for entertainment purposes only, the Dutchmen are 9.5-point favorites. Hofstra is 19-12 against the spread and failed to cover Sunday, when they were 12-point favorites against James Madison. As far as the bookies are concerned, the Dutchmen are 1-5 in their last six games. 

Hofstra is 58-32 against Delaware in a series that began during the 1954-55 season. The Blue Hens are Hofstra’s most common foe. The Dutchmen 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 completed a sweep of the regular season series last Saturday, when they locked up the outright CAA regular season crown with a 92-70 win in New-ARK. The regular season sweep was the fifth straight for Hofstra, which cruised to a 91-46 win in the CAA opener for both teams on Dec. 28. But Delaware, of course, ended Hofstra’s 2016-17 season with a win in the opening round of the CAA Tournament. Prior to the Dutchmen’s current regular season streak, the Blue Hens swept the season series three straight years and won eight games in a row overall between the teams from 2011-12 through 2013-14. And THAT, in turn, was preceded by the Dutchmen sweeping the season series three straight times from 2008-09 through 2010-11.

Delaware, which saved the CAA by jumping from the America East along with Hofstra, Drexel and Towson following the 2000-01 season (you’re welcome, Tom), is 14-16 all-time in CAA Tournament play. The Blue Hens became the first America East school to win the CAA championship when they won the 2014 crown. This is the fifth trip to the CAA semifinals for Delaware, though its first since the 2014 title run. Inglesby has won a CAA Tournament game in each of his first three seasons at the helm.

Steve Steinwedel bias! (He coached the Blue Hens to the 1992 and 1993 NCAA Tournament)
You know the ECC was real and spectacular bias! (No matter what Litos says)
C’mon let us win a tournament game you did in the America East bias! (Duh)
Seriously make up your mind Joe Biden are you gonna run in 2020 or not bias! (I don’t think Hofstra and Delaware can play another game before you make up your mind, Joe)

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