Tuesday, March 12, 2019

I’ll Be Quirky: Northeastern (CAA Championship Game)

The Barone Bowl for all the marbles!!!

And on the 127th and final day of the #CAAHoops season, the Flying Dutchmen will play for a championship and an NCAA Tournament berth. The Dutchmen squandered all of a 15-point lead in the second half against Delaware, which took the lead six different times late in the second half and overtime. But Justin Wright-Foreman put his teammates on his back with a record-setting performance before Jalen Ray came up with the big plays in the waning seconds of a 78-74 overtime win over the Blue Hens. With the win, the Dutchmen advance to the championship game tonight against second-seeded Northeastern, which survived Charleston and the usual suspect southern team-favoring CAA officiating, 70-67. Who has to bring football back, the winner or the loser? Here’s a look back at the win over the Blue Hens and a look ahead to the Huskies and the very biggest Barone Bowl of all.

Justin Wright-Foreman scored a CAA tournament-record 42 points, including 23 of the Dutchmen’s 29 points in the second half as well as the tying basket with 1:35 left in overtime, but it was his steal with 19 seconds left that set into motion the events that sent Dutchmen to the title game. Wright-Foreman made up for a turnover a possession earlier by stealing the ball from Ryan Allen and passing to a streaking Jalen Ray, who was fouled and hit both free throws. Ray then forced Kevin Anderson to step out of bounds under the Delaware basket before draining two more free throws to ice the victory. Tareq Coburn scored 11 of his 13 points in the first half as the Dutchmen raced out to a 14-point lead before Delaware stormed back. Eli Pemberton scored 11 points, including four huge free throws in overtime. Ray had seven points, five rebounds and two steals in 34 minutes off the bench. Jacquil Taylor added five points, six rebounds and four more blocks.

3 STARS OF THE GAME (vs. Delaware 3/11)
3: Justin Wright-Foreman
2: Jalen Ray
1: Tareq Coburn

Justin Wright-Foreman 77
Eli Pemberton 36
Desure Buie 28
Jacquil Taylor 24
Tareq Coburn 16
Jalen Ray 13
Stafford Trueheart 2
Kenny Wormley 1
Dan Dwyer 1

COACHSPEAK: “We’re going to really cherish this, because it’s really hard to do. Ask the eight teams that are going home how hard it is to do this. And to do it two times in three years — four years, whatever it was — we’re just so proud to do that. It’s really hard. Ask any coach, ask any player. People don’t understand: It’s hard to do this. And to just have a chance is something that you have to cherish and enjoy, and we’re going to do that.”

No! But the last time the Dutchmen won a game 78-74, I was still in high school. And on Jan. 31, 1991, the Flying Dutchmen, who really were known as the Flying Dutchmen back then, also needed overtime to edge Central Connecticut State by that score. Hey! That’s my parents’ alma mater! 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 Flying Dutchmen are playing for a conference title for the 10th time in program history and the third time in the CAA. The Dutchmen are 5-4 in conference championship games. They won it all in the ECC in 1977, 1978 and 1994 and won the America East title game in 2000 and 2001. The Dutchmen fell in the ECC title game in 1986 and 1992 and the CAA title tilt in 2006 and 2016. You may remember those games.

The Dutchmen earned their 27th win of the season Monday. That’s the most in program history, breaking a tie with the 2000-01 and 2005-06 teams. Not too shabby.

The Dutchmen went to overtime for the third time in six games Monday and the fifth time overall this season. They are 3-2 in those games, with a 93-90 triple overtime win over William & Mary on Jan. 10 and a 91-82 double overtime win over Towson on Feb. 21 as well as single overtime losses to VCU (69-67 on Nov. 24) and James Madison (104-99 on Feb. 23).

However, the win Monday night ended one overtime-related drought for the Dutchmen, who snapped a three-game losing streak in conference tournament games that extended into overtime. The Dutchmen lost to UNC Wilmington, 80-73, in the 2016 CAA title game. fell to William & Mary, 92-91, in double overtime in the 2015 CAA semifinals and dropped a 74-71 decision to Northeastern in the 2010 CAA quarterfinals. Prior to Monday, the Dutchmen hadn’t won a conference tournament game in overtime since outlasting Northeastern Illinois, 88-86, in double overtime in the 1994 ECC championship game. Oh yeah Litos. I went there.

The Dutchmen beat Delaware for the third time this season Monday, though this game was a whole lot closer than the first two, which Hofstra won by 45 and 22 points, respectively. With the Dutchmen’s victory, teams that sweep an opponent during the regular season finished 2-1 in a tournament re-rematch this season (Elon fell to UNC Wilmington on Slap-And-Tickle Saturday and Northeastern beat UNC Wilmington on Sunday) and improved to 52-20 in such games dating back to 2002. That’s a winning percentage of .722. Here is the raw data:

2019: Elon loses to UNCW, Northeastern beats UNCW, Hofstra beats Delaware
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

With the narrow win over Delaware, the Dutchmen improved to 11-3 when facing in a conference tournament an opponent they swept in the regular season. Here is the list of Hofstra’s re-rematches in conference tournament play against an opponent it swept in the regular season.

2019: Beat Delaware
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)

Justin Wright-Foreman set a single-game CAA Tournament scoring record Monday night, when he scored 42 points. That put Hofstra into the record books at the expense of a couple of players who did their damage against the Dutchmen, The previous record of 37 points was shared by Marcus Thornton, who victimized the Dutchmen in William & Mary’s 92-91 double overtime win in an instant classic semifinal on Mar. 8, 2015, and Jordan Talley, who led UNC Wilmington to a 93-88 victory in a quarterfinal game on Mar. 4, 2018.

With his 42 points against Delaware, Justin Wright-Foreman extended his streak of double-digit scoring efforts to 86 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: 86 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 tied for the seventh-longest in history with Jeff Mullins, who produced his streak for Duke from 1961-64. This is some rarefied air. 

ALL BY HIMSELF (part one)
Justin Wright-Foreman recorded his third 40-point game of the season Monday night. That’s the most ever by a Hofstra player in a single season, breaking a tie with Rich Laurel (1976-77) and Speedy Claxton (1999-2000), and tied for the most ever in a career. Steve Nisenson had three 40-point efforts, one per season, from the 1962-63 through 1964-65 campaigns. Here is the entire list of Hofstra players to score 40 points in a game:

Justin Wright-Foreman 3
Steve Nisenson 3
Rich Laurel 2
Speedy Claxton 2
Bill Thieben 2
Demetrius Dudley 1
Bernard Tomlin 1
Charles Jenkins 1

ALL BY HIMSELF (part two)
Justin Wright-Foreman recorded his 12th 30-point game of the season Monday afternoon and the 23rd of his career. That’s the most by a Hofstra player since at least the 1989-90 season. But Wright-Foreman has played just 123 games and registered all of his 30-point games in his last 82 games dating back to Jan. 2, 2017. Here is the list of all players with multiple 30-point games since 1989-90 (career games in parenthesis).

Justin Wright-Foreman 23 (123)
Demetrius Dudley 12 (55)
Charles Jenkins 12 (128)
Antoine Agudio 10 (122)
Speedy Claxton 8 (119)
Loren Stokes 7 (124)
Zeke Upshaw 3 (33)
Mike Moore 3 (65)
Ameen Tanksley 2 (68)
Rick Apodaca 2 (108)
John Mavroukas 2 (90)

THE 30/30/30/30/30/30/30/30/30/30/30/30 (AT LEAST) CLUB
The 12 30-point games this season by Justin Wright-Foreman are the most by a Hofstra player since at least 1989-90. Only two other players in that span had as many as seven 30-point games in a season. Wright-Foreman did it last year, of course, and Demetrius Dudley did it in 1991-92. Dudley is also the only other Hofstra player with at least five 30-point games in back-to-back years since 1989-90.

Justin Wright-Foreman 12 (2018-19)
Justin Wright-Foreman 7 (2017-18)
Demetrius Dudley 7 (1991-92)
Antoine Agudio 6 (2007-08)
Speedy Claxton 6 (1999-2000)
Demetrius Dudley 5 (1992-93)

Justin Wright-Foreman remained in third place on the all-time Hofstra scoring list last Sunday, when he scored 42 points against Delaware. Why didn’t he just score the eight points he needed to not spend multiple games in the three spot? Slacker. Anyway, Wright-Foreman will likely move up to number two tonight, when he needs *checks the math again* eight points to move past Antoine Agudio.

1.) Charles Jenkins 2,513 (2007-11)
2.) Antoine Agudio 2,276 (2005-08)
3.) JUSTIN WRIGHT-FOREMAN 2,269 (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 closed in on another Hofstra record Monday night, when he scored 42 points to increase his season total to 890 points. He enters tonight just 19 points away from breaking Rich Laurel’s record for the most points by a Hofstra player in a single season. That’s pretty good, right?

1.) Rich Laurel 908 (1976-77)
2.) JUSTIN WRIGHT-FOREMAN 890 (2018-19)
3.) Steve Nisenson 776 (1963-64)
4.) Steve Nisenson 765 (1962-63)
5.) Bill Thieben 760 (1954-55)

Eli Pemberton, the newest member of the Hofstra 1,000-point club, remained in 15th place on the all-time scoring list Monday, when he scored 11 points. He is likely to move up the list tonight, when he needs just three points to move past Ken Rood for 14th place.

14.) Ken Rood 1,368 (1973-77)
15.) ELI PEMBERTON 1,366 (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)

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 20-of-24 from the line against Delaware, which improved their season-long percentage to 79.7 percent. That should, and I still can’t believe I’m typing these words, be good enough to keep the Dutchmen ranked second in the country once the NCAA updates its stats overnight. The Dutchmen will likely 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! Incarnate Word, California Baptist and Central Connecticut have all completed their seasons while Mississippi State is scheduled to begin SEC tournament play this week. 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.

Remember when the America East four (later five, with Northeastern) saved the CAA and the CAA responded by expressing no gratitude at all and consistently scheduling the conference tournament in a southern-based state? Well, tonight marks the first time two schools north of Virginia will face each other in the title game. Nelson Muntz GIF goes here.

The title game between the top-seeded Dutchmen and second-seeded Northeastern marks the fourth straight season the top two seeds reached the finals. The top seed is 2-1 in those games, with the only loss being absorbed by *checks notes* the Dutchmen in 2016.

This is also the seventh time the top two seeds have advanced to the championship game since 2002, a span in which the no. 1 seed is 4-2 against the no. 2 seed, and the 15th time it has happened in league history. The no. 1 seed is 8-6 in such matchups.

The Dutchmen are the eighth straight no. 1 seed to reach the CAA title game. The no. 1 seed is 3-4 in the last seven championship games, though no. 3 Northeastern and no. 1 William & Mary were among the four teams that tied for the regular season crown with a 12-6 record in 2014-15, when Northeastern earned a 72-61 victory in the title game.

The eight straight appearances by the no. 1 seed is the longest streak in league history. The top seed previously made seven straight appearances in the finals from 1993 through 1999 and 2001 through 2007.

Overall, the no. 1 seed has reached the title game 31 times in 37 seasons. The no. 1 seed is 20-10 in the championship game.

The Dutchmen have now reached a conference championship game all five times they have entered as the no. 1 seed. The Dutchmen fell to UMBC in the ECC title game in 1992, beat Delaware in the America East title game in 2000 and 2001 and lost to UNC Wilmington in the 2016 CAA title game.

The Dutchmen will face Northeastern in a conference tournament for the third time. The Huskies won the first two matchups by earning a 71-61 victory in a North Atlantic Conference outbracket game in 1996 (it was the last Hofstra basketball game I covered as a collegian) and outlasting the Dutchmen, 74-71, in double overtime in a CAA quarterfinal in 2010. We’re due!

The Huskies, under 13th-year head coach Bill Coen, advanced to the championship game by edging Charleston, 70-67, in the other semifinal Monday night. This is the second straight trip to the finals for Northeastern, which fell to Charleston, 83-76, in controversial overtime fashion last year. Northeastern has won six straight to improve to 22-10. The Huskies earned the no. 2 seed by going 14-4 in league play.

The Dutchmen and Huskies had no common foes during non-league play. Both teams swept Drexel, Elon and William & Mary. The Dutchmen swept Delaware, Charleston and Towson, each of whom split with the Huskies. Northeastern swept James Madison and UNC Wilmington, each of whom split with Hofstra.

The Dutchmen, who were picked third in the CAA preseason poll, were ranked 87th at KenPom.com as of early this morning. The Huskies, who were picked first, were ranked 82nd at KenPom.com as of early this morning. That’s close.

According to KenPom.com, the Dutchmen rank first in the CAA in conference-only offensive efficiency (123.2) and fourth in conference-only defensive efficiency (107.8). The Huskies rank second in the CAA in conference-only offensive efficiency (114.5) and first in conference-only defensive efficiency (100.9).

Senior guard Vasa Pusica, who was named to the All-CAA team, leads the Huskies with 17.6 points and 4.4 assists per game. Junior Jordan Roland (14.8 ppg), who was named to the all-CAA third team, is averaging 14.8 ppg while fellow junior Bolden Brice is averaging 10.0 ppg and a team-high 5.9 rebounds per game. Junior Donnell Gresham Jr., who was named to the all-CAA third team, is averaging 9.8 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Junior Shawn Occeus, who won the CAA defensive player of the year last season, has been limited to just 13 games due to injuries as well as a brief leave for a personal matter but is averaging 10.1 points per game.

KenPom.com predicts a 78-77 win by Northeastern. That would be painful. 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 19-13 against the spread and has dropped six of its last seven, as far as the bookies are concerned.

Hofstra is 23-22 against Northeastern in a series that began during the 1949-50 season. All but three of the meetings have come in conference play since the 1994-95 season, when Hofstra joined the North Atlantic Conference. The Dutchmen have won six of the last eight games in the series, but the Huskies earned the most recent victory Feb. 2, when they ended the Dutchmen’s 16-game winning streak with a 75-61 win. It is the only game this season in which Hofstra has not held a second half lead. The Dutchmen won the first game of the season between the teams on Jan. 5, when Justin Wright-Foreman hit a running 34-footer at the buzzer to cap a late nine-point comeback and give Hofstra a rather exciting 75-72 win.

Northeastern, which joined the CAA prior to the 2005-06 season, is 16-12 all-time in CAA play. The Huskies won the championship in 2015 and fell in the title game in 2013 and 2018. Northeastern has advanced to at least the semifinals in six of the last seven seasons under Coen and eight times in 14 seasons overall. 

THE BARONE BOWL (for all the marbles!)
The Barone Bowl was established by me and Northeastern graduate Mike Brodsky during the 2009-10 season, after Northeastern and Hofstra dropped football within two weeks of one another (Hofstra’s decision, of course, was reached after a multi-year study, wink wink nudge nudge). The Barone Bowl pays homage to the episode of Everybody Loves Raymond in which a Hofstra kicker boots a 68-yard field goal against Northeastern but Frank Barone catches the ball and refuses to give it up. Apparently that wasn’t the type of publicity either school liked. Anyway.

Northeastern leads the Barone Bowl series, 12-9, though Hofstra has retained the Barone Bowl for three straight seasons. The team that won the trophy most recently can retain it with a split of the season series. Whomever wins tonight, of course, will take home the Barone Bowl, plus that little automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, This, unfortunately, is a purely symbolic trophy, one which you will not find displayed by either school. But you can find me and Brodsky talking about it on Twitter!

You’re just making these calls to make up for screwing Northeastern out of the CAA title last year and trying to screw them again last year bias! (The Huskies were Southern Biased something fierce and it almost happened again last night)
More Than A Feeling bias! (Know your ‘70s album rock, kids)
I can’t believe we’re saying this but Boston has beaten New York enough in sports since 2004 let us win this one bias! (Duh)
New Kids on the Block bias! (Know your ‘80s boy bands, kids)

No comments: