Sunday, March 10, 2019

I'll Be Quirky: James Madison (CAA Quarterfinals)

Long Island's Pat Benatar knows what's going on beginning (but we sure hope not ending) today. 

The Flying Dutchmen locked up the program’s first outright CAA regular season title last Saturday, when they never trailed in beating Delaware, 92-70. Now the real season begins this afternoon, when the Dutchmen face eighth-seeded James Madison in the CAA quarterfinals. It’s inherently insane to play almost four months for one weekend, but hey, we knew the deal when we signed up for this. Or maybe we didn’t but we’re in too deep now! Anyway, here’s a look back at the win over the Blue Hens, a look at how the Dutchmen fared in the CAA awards (spoiler alert: GOOD) and a look ahead to the Dukes and the Dutchmen’s history in conference tournaments.

Justin Wright-Foreman overcame some first-half foul trouble to score a game-high 28 points as the Dutchmen cruised past Delaware. The Dutchmen maintained a double-digit lead for the final 10-plus minutes. Eli Pemberton scored 20 points while Jacquil Taylor (10 points, 13 rebounds) collected another double double while collecting two blocks and two steals. Desure Buie scored 16 points and went 8-for-8 from the free throw line while adding five assists, four rebounds and two steals. Jalen Ray had 13 points off the bench.

3 STARS OF THE GAME (vs. Delaware 3/2)
3: Justin Wright-Foreman
2: Eli Pemberton
1: Jacquil Taylor

Justin Wright-Foreman 73
Eli Pemberton 36
Desure Buie 28
Jacquil Taylor 21
Tareq Coburn 15
Jalen Ray 9
Stafford Trueheart 2
Kenny Wormley 1
Dan Dwyer 1

No! But it has been a while since the Dutchmen won 92-70. Prior to last Saturday, the Dutchmen hadn’t won a 92-70 game since beating West Chester by that score during the 1958-59 season. That’s 50 years ago! The Dutchmen nearly won 92-70 earlier this year, when they beat North Carolina AT&T 92-72. So close. 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 Dutchmen won a game in which they didn’t trail for the third time this season and the first time since beating Elon, 102-71, on Feb. 7. The Dutchmen also never trailed in beating Drexel, 89-75, on Dec. 30. 

With the win over Delaware, the Dutchmen clinched the outright CAA regular season championship. The Dutchmen finished 15-3 — their best record ever in the CAA — and a game ahead of Northeastern. This is the fourth outright regular season conference title for the Dutchmen and the first since Hofstra went 16-2 in the program’s final season in the America East in 2000-01. Hofstra also won the America East in 1999-2000 and the East Coast Conference in 1991-92. Oh yeah. An ECC reference.

The Dutchmen will be the no. 1 seed in the CAA Tournament for the second time. They were the no. 1 seed following the 2015-16 season, when Hofstra and UNC Wilmington finished tied at 14-4 but the Dutchmen earned the top seed via tiebreakers. The Dutchmen have not won a regular season title outright since going 16-2 in the program’s final season in the America East in 2000-01.

Is dominating the CAA awards a harbinger of good things to come? Asking for some friends. The Dutchmen collected armfuls of hardware Friday, when the all-CAA teams and honorees were announced.

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, senior Justin Wright-Foreman was named the CAA’s Player of the Year for the second straight season. Wright-Foreman, who won a record seven Player of the Week awards this year, is the second Hofstra player to win the Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons. Charles Jenkins also did so in 2009-10 and 2010-11. Wright-Foreman is the seventh player to win the CAA Player of the Year award at least two straight times and the first repeat winner since Towson’s Jerrelle Benimon won in 2012-13 and 2013-14.

In addition, Wright-Foreman is the fourth Hofstra player to win the award, joining Jenkins, Juan’ya Green (2015-16) and Loren Stokes (2006-07). The four player of the year awards for Hofstra are the most for any CAA program since the 2001-02 season. Wright-Foreman earned second-team All-CAA honors last season.

Winning the Player of the Year might be old hat for the Dutchmen, but Hofstra took home a pair of awards for the first time ever. Desure Buie became the first Hofstra player to be named CAA Defensive Player of the Year while Jacquil Taylor joined him on the all-defensive team. This is the first time the Dutchmen have ever placed two players on the all-defensive team. The last Hofstra player to make the all-defensive team was Rokas Gustys in 2015-16.

Joe Mihalich, meanwhile, was named Coach of the Year. He is the first Hofstra coach to earn CAA Coach of the Year honors and the first Dutchmen coach to be named the coach of the year since Jay Wright won the second of his back-to-back awards in the America East in 2000-01.

Eli Pemberton was named to the all-CAA second team while Buie earned third-team honors. The Dutchmen were the only squad in the CAA to place a player on all three teams.

Justin Wright-Foreman might add another trophy to his hardware next month. Wright-Foreman was named Tuesday as one of five finalists for the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year award, which will be presented on Apr. 12. Wright-Foreman is vying for the award along with Duke’s RJ Barrett, Purdue’s Carsen Edwards, Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver and Virginia’s Kyle Guy. I’m already warming up my POWER FIVE CONFERENCE BIAS chants.

With his 28 points against Delaware, Justin Wright-Foreman extended his streak of double-digit scoring efforts to 84 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: 84 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 remained in fourth place on the all-time Hofstra scoring list last Saturday, when he scored 28 points against Drexel. It was the second straight game he spent in fourth place, Slacker. He’s got a pretty good shot of moving up the list this afternoon, though. Wright-Foreman enters today just 13 points shy of surpassing Steve Nisenson for third place. 

1.) Charles Jenkins 2,513 (2007-11)
2.) Antoine Agudio 2,276 (2005-08)
3.) Steve Nisenson 2,222 (1962-65)
4.) JUSTIN WRIGHT-FOREMAN 2,210 (2015-present)
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)

Eli Pemberton, the newest member of the Hofstra 1,000-point club, moved into 16th place on the all-time scoring list last Saturday, when he scored 20 points against Delaware to surpass Dave Bell. Pemberton will likely gain at least one spot today. He enters this afternoon just three points shy of moving past Barry White into 15th place and 27 points shy of surpassing Ken Rood for 14th place.

14.) Ken Rood 1,368 (1973-77)
15.) Barry White 1,344 (1966-69)
16.) ELI PEMBERTON 1,342 (2016-present)
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 last Saturday, when he went 8-for-8 from the line against Delaware. Buie has made 24 straight free throws dating back to Feb. 21 to increase his season average to 91.2 percent (93-of-102), which was good enough for sixth in the nation entering Saturday’s games. Buie is technically at 91.17 percent, which puts him microscopically behind Long Beach State’s Deishaun Booker (238-of-261 for 91.18 percent) entering Saturday.

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 24 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, 24-for-24 (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 18-of-20 from the line against Delaware, which improved their season-long percentage to 79.8 percent. That was, and I still can’t believe I’m typing these words, good enough for the second-best percentage in the country entering Saturday’s games. The Dutchmen rank just behind Incarnate Word (81.1 percent) and just ahead of California Baptist (78.3 percent), Central Connecticut State (78.2 percent, or technically 78.23 percent) and Hampton (78.2 percent, or technically 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.

The CAA will provide a video feed of this afternoon’s game, as well as live stats, here.

The Dutchmen enter today 13-17 in CAA Tournament play since 2002, 22-22 in conference tournament play in the NAC/America East/CAA era (1994-present) and 25-22 in conference tournament play in the Defiantly Dutch era (1993-present), which, let’s face it, is the only era that matters because it includes the ECC. Hello Litos.

In the CAA, the Dutchmen have lost in the championship game twice, fallen in the semifinals four times, been eliminated in the quarterfinals eight times and lost on Pillowfight Friday four times. Dating back to 1994, the Dutchmen have won three championships (1994 ECC, 2000 America East, 2001 America East), fallen in the title game twice, lost in the semifinals six times, fallen in the quarterfinals nine times and been eliminated in an outbracket game five times (we didn’t call it Pillowfight Friday back in the NAC).

The Dutchmen have lost their first CAA Tournament game in each of the last two seasons — in the quarterfinals to UNC Wilmington last year and in Pillowfight Friday to Delaware in 2017. It marks the third time the Dutchmen have been one-and-done in the CAA (also 2012-13 and 2007-08) and the seventh time they have been one-and-done in consecutive seasons. The Dutchmen were knocked out in a NAC outbracket game in 1996 (the last basketball game I ever covered in college, sniff) and an America East quarterfinal game in 1997. They never changed leagues, the league just changed names *eyeroll* The Dutchmen were also one-and-done in the ECC in 1990-91, 1987-88 and 1983-84. Hofstra has never lost its first conference tournament game in three consecutive seasons.

Even with the opening game losses the last two years, Joe Mihalich-coached teams are 15-5 in their first conference tournament games.

We’re going to spend however long the Dutchmen are in the CAA Tournament fretting over what could go wrong, but history is on their side (don’t hex it, idiot). Over the last 25 seasons, the no. 1 seed in Hofstra’s conference tournament is a halfway decent 63-7 in tourney play. That’s a winning percentage of .900. Since 1994, the no. 1 seed in Hofstra’s conference tournament has won it all 18 times and fallen in the finals four other times. It has failed to make the championship game just three times.

In 36 seasons of CAA play, the no. 1 seed has gone 80-15 (a lower but still pretty good winning percentage of .842) while winning the championship 20 times and losing in the finals 10 times. It has fallen prior to the title game just six times.

Of course, if you want to look at the glass half-empty side of things, the last no. 1 seed to lose a game in the CAA Tournament and not win it all was…the Flying Dutchmen, who fell in the 2016 championship game.

History is also on the side of the Dutchmen this afternoon. A no. 1 seed in Hofstra’s conference tournament has won its first game in each of the last 24 seasons. The only one to lose? Troy State (hey, it was a State back then) in the 1994 East Coast Conference semifinals, when the Trojans received a bye to the semifinals but lost to the Flying Dutchmen, 90-89, in overtime. 

And in the CAA, the no. 1 seed is 35-1 all-time in its opening game. The only top seed to fall in the quarterfinals was the 1991 James Madison squad, which fell to Navy, 85-82, also in overtime. The no. 1 seed has won its last 27 openers. Uh-oh.

The Flying Dutchmen are the no. 1 seed in the CAA Tournament for the second tie and a no. 1 seed in a conference tournament for the fifth time. They have won two titles as the no. 1 seed and fallen in the title game the other two times.

2016 CAA: beat no. 9 Drexel in QFs, beat no. 5 William & Mary in SFs, lost to no. 2 UNCW in championship
2001 A-East: beat no. 8 Vermont in QFs, beat no. 4 Maine in SFs, beat no. 2 Delaware in championship
2000 A-East: beat no. 8 Boston U. in QFs, beat no. 5 Drexel in SFs, beat no. 2 Delaware in championship
1992 ECC: beat no. 4 UMBC in SFs, lost to no. 2 Towson in championship

A Joe Mihalich-coached team is a no. 1 seed for the fifth time. Mihalich, who steered Niagara to three regular season MAAC titles, has won one title as a no. 1 seed, fallen in the title game once and lost in the semifinals twice.

2016 CAA: beat  no. 9 Drexel in QFs, beat no. 5 William & Mary in SFs, lost to no. 2 UNCW in championship
2013 MAAC: beat no. 9 Siena in QFs, lost to no. 4 Iona in SFs
2005 MAAC: beat no. 5 Iona in SFs, beat no. 2 Rider in championship
1999 MAAC: beat no. 9 Loyola in QFs, lost to no. 5 St. Peter’s in SFs

The Dutchmen will face James Madison in a CAA Tournament game for the second time. Hofstra earned a 74-57 win in a CAA quarterfinal game on Mar. 7, 2015.

The Dukes, under third-year head coach Louis Rowe, advanced to the quarterfinals by coming back from an 11-point deficit in the final 7:36 Saturday afternoon and edging Towson, 74-73, when Matt Lewis (him again) drained a long 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds left. James Madison, which improved to 14-18, earned the no. 8 seed by going 6-12 in CAA play.

The Dutchmen and Dukes had no common foes in non-league play. In regular season play, both teams have split with UNC Wilmington. The Dutchmen swept Elon and William & Mary, each of whom swept James Madison, and also swept Charleston, Towson, Drexel and Delaware, each of whom split with the Dukes. Hofstra split with Northeastern, which swept the Dukes.

The Dutchmen, who were picked third in the CAA preseason poll, were ranked 82nd at as of early this morning. The Dukes, who were picked sixth, were ranked 278th at as of early this morning.

According to, the Dutchmen rank first in the CAA in conference-only offensive efficiency (123.2) and fourth in conference-only defensive efficiency (107.8). The Dukes rank sixth in the CAA in conference-only offensive efficiency (107.0) and eighth in conference-only defensive efficiency (112.6).

The Dukes are led by a trio of guards averaging at least 10 points per game. Senior Stuckey Mosley (16.6 ppg) was named to the All-CAA second team the all-time all-#CAAHoops name team while the sharp-shooting sophomore Lewis (16.2 ppg) was named to the All-CAA third team. Senior Darius Banks (12.2 ppg), who is playing through a hand injury, was named to the All-CAA defensive team. Sophomore Dwight Wilson is collecting a team-high 7.7 rebounds per game while also averaging 10.3 points per game. predicts an 81-69 win by Hofstra. There was no line for the game as of early this morning, but I’ll check before opening tip for entertainment purposes only. Hofstra is 19-11 against the spread this season and snapped a four-game losings streak, as far as the bookies were concerned, last Saturday.

Hofstra is 19-13 against James Madison in a series that began when the Dutchmen joined the CAA prior to the 2001-02 season. The teams split the season series this year, with the Dutchmen beating James Madison, 85-68, in Harrisonburg on Jan. 24 before the Dukes came back from a double-digit second half deficit and converted 5- and 4-point plays on consecutive trips in overtime to earn a 104-99 victory 15 days ago. Boy I hope those officials aren’t in North Charleston this weekend.

James Madison, which is one of two remaining founding members of the CAA along with William & Mary, is 28-33 all-time in CAA Tournament play. The Dukes have won three titles (2013, 1994 and 1983) and fallen in the title game five other times. Their eight championship game appearances are tied for the third-most in league history with VCU and George Mason and the second-most of any active league member. UNC Wilmington has made 11 championship game appearances.

Original CAA member bias! (We thought we could retire this one)
Matt Lewis is actually Daniel Dixon bias! (I really hope I don’t have to yell this one)
Saturday CAA refs working on a Sunday bias! (Probably gonna happen)
Mike Houston bias! (The new East Carolina football coach led James Madison to the Division I-AA title in 2016)

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