Tuesday, March 19, 2019

I'll Be Quirky: North Carolina State (NIT first round)

Back when men were men, and played two sports, and grew manly mustaches! 

Welp, it’s official. The NCAA Tournament drought is officially old enough to enroll at Hofstra this fall. The dream of a trip to the big dance perished for the 18th straight year last Tuesday night, when the Flying Dutchmen came all the way back from an 18-point first half deficit but could not take the lead and fell to Northeastern, 82-74, in the CAA championship game. But there’s still basketball left to be played for the Dutchmen, who were saddled with a seventh seed in the NIT and will face second-seeded North Carolina State tonight, Hmm. I wonder who coaches North Carolina State? Here’s a look back at the loss to the Huskies (but not too much of a look back because it still hurts) and a look ahead to the Wolfpack. 

THE MOST RECENT GAME SUMMARIZED IN ONE PARAGRAPH
Justin Wright-Foreman (a game-high 29 points) did his best to will the Dutchmen across the finish line, but the 18-point first half deficit was too much to overcome. A pair of Jacquil Taylor free throws tied the game 54-54 with 9:13 remaining, but Vasa Pusica, whom we will all see in our nightmares for years to come, drained a  3-pointer on Northeastern’s next possession to begin a 6-0 run that featured Wright-Foreman and Eli Pemberton both missing the front ends of one-and-ones. The Dutchmen never got any closer than four the rest of the way and trailed by at least five points for the final 6:59. Pemberton had 15 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals while Taylor scored eight points and pulled down 15 rebounds. 

3 STARS OF THE GAME (vs. Northeastern 3/12)
3: Justin Wright-Foreman
2: Eli Pemberton
1: Jacquil Taylor

SEASON STANDINGS
Justin Wright-Foreman 80
Eli Pemberton 38
Desure Buie 28
Jacquil Taylor 25
Tareq Coburn 16
Jalen Ray 13
Stafford Trueheart 2
Kenny Wormley 1
Dan Dwyer 1

HONORS FOR JWF & TAYLOR
Justin Wright-Foreman and Jacquil Taylor were named to the all-tournament team. Wright-Foreman scored a CAA Tournament single-game record 42 points in the overtime win over Delaware in the semifinals and finished the tournament with 88 points, just two points shy of the tournament record set by James Madison’s Steve Hood in 1990. Taylor had 32 rebounds and 10 blocks in the three games.

THIRD TIME WAS NOT THE CHARM
The Flying Dutchmen fell to 0-3 in CAA title games. You might remember they also lost to UNC Wilmington in 2006 and 2016. Do you think this will be the last time UNC Wilmington is referenced here?

AN IMPERFECT TENTH
The Dutchmen fell to 5-5 all-time 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. In addition to their CAA title game losses, the Dutchmen fell in the ECC championship game in 1986 and 1992. Hmm. Maybe we need to start playing more title games at home.

ONE IS THE LONELIEST NUMBER
The title game pitted the top two seeds against each other for the fourth straight season. The no. 1 seed is 2-2 in those games, with the losses being absorbed by the Dutchmen. The loss for the Dutchmen also dropped the no. 1 seed to 8-7 all-time in CAA title games between the top two seeds and to 20-11 in title games overall. 

The Dutchmen have reached the conference championship game all five times they have entered the tournament as the no 1 seed. They are 2-3 in those tilts, with the wins over Delaware in the America East title game in 2000 and 2001 and losses to Towson State (hey it was a state back then) in the 1992 ECC title game and to UNC Wilmington in the 2016 CAA championship game. 

SELECT SECOND HALF COMPANY (except against Northeastern)
The Dutchmen never led in the second half last Tuesday. It marked just the second time this season they have not held a second half lead and the first time since…Feb. 2 against Northeastern. If these trends continue…hey!

LAST ONE STANDING IN JANUARY OR FEBRUARY (but not March)
The Dutchmen, who raced out to an 11-0 start in the league, could not buck historical trends as the final unbeaten team in CAA play. This marks the 12th time in the last 18 seasons — since the CAA expanded prior to the 2001-02 campaign — that the last unbeaten team did not win the conference tournament. The only teams to win the CAA after being the last team to lose in league play are UNC Wilmington (2001-02 and 2016-17), Delaware (2013-14), VCU (2006-07) and Old Dominion (2004-05).

YOU’RE JUSTIN WRIGHT-FOREMAN! YOU PLAY BASKETBALL FOR THE HOFSTRA FLYING DUTCHMEN!
With his 29 points against Northeastern, Justin Wright-Foreman extended his streak of double-digit scoring efforts to 87 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: 87 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 seventh-longest in history. This is some rarefied air. 

NUMBER THREE IS NOW NUMBER TWO
Justin Wright-Foreman moved into second place on the all-time Hofstra scoring list last Tuesday, when he scored 29 points against Northeastern to surge past Antoine Agudio. Barring a deep and productive run in the NIT, this likely completes the climb up the charts for Wright-Foreman. He is 216 points away from moving past Charles Jenkins, which means Wright-Foreman would need to average 43.2 points per game during a five-game run to the NIT championship in order to supplant Jenkins. That sounds unlikely, but who could have imagined Wright-Foreman would climb this high when he scored 127 points in his first 37 games at Hofstra?

1.) Charles Jenkins 2,513 (2007-11)
2.) JUSTIN WRIGHT-FOREMAN 2,298 (2015-present)
3.) Antoine Agudio 2,276 (2005-08)
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)

JWF ADDS TWO MORE LAURELS
Justin Wright-Foreman did move to the top of two lists last Tuesday night, when he scored 29 points against Northeastern. With his latest big game, Wright-Foreman increased his season total to 919 points, first breaking David Robinson’s record for the most points scored by a CAA player in a single season and then breaking Rich Laurel’s record for the most points scored by a Hofstra player in a single season.

MOST POINTS, CAA SINGLE-SEASON
1.) JUSTIN WRIGHT-FOREMAN, HOFSTRA 919 (2018-19)
2.) David Robinson, Navy 903 (1986-87)
3.) Gary Neal, Towson 810 (2006-07)
4.) David Robinson, Navy 796 (1985-86)
5.) Blue Edwards, East Carolina 773 (1989-90)

MOST POINTS, HOFSTRA SINGLE-SEASON
1.) JUSTIN WRIGHT-FOREMAN 919 (2018-19)
2.) Rich Laurel 908 (1976-77)
3.) Steve Nisenson 776 (1963-64)
4.) Steve Nisenson 765 (1962-63)
5.) Bill Thieben 760 (1954-55)

ELI MOVES UP TO FOURTEEN
Eli Pemberton, the newest member of the Hofstra 1,000-point club, climbed to 14th place on the all-time scoring list last Tuesday, when he scored 15 points to move past Ken Rood. He is 42 points away from surpassing Rick Apodaca for 13th place. 

13.) Rick Apodaca 1,422 (1999-2003)
14.) ELI PEMBERTON 1,381 (2016-present)
15.) Ken Rood 1,368 (1973-77)
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)

A DESURE THING
Desure Buie continued his push to win the national free throw shooting title last Tuesday, when he went 3-for-3 from the line against Northeastern. Buie has made 29 straight free throws dating back to Feb. 21 to increase his season average to 91.6 percent (98-of-107), 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.

COLLECTING HIS FREEBIES
The 29 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, 29-for-29 (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 22-of-25 from the line against Northeastern, which improved their season-long percentage to 79.9 percent. That kept them, and this is still weird, second in the country behind Incarnate Word (81.0 percent) and just ahead of Mississippi State (78.3 percent, or technically 78.29 percent), California Baptist (78.3 percent, or technically 78.27) and Central Connecticut State (78.2 percent, or technically 78.23 percent). Hey! That’s my parents’ alma mater! Incarnate Word and Central Connecticut have completed their seasons while Mississippi State (NCAA) and California Baptist (CIT) are scheduled to begin tournament play this week. At this rate, barring certain someones showing back up and missing a bunch of free throws in the NIT, the Dutchmen are going to 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 likely to finish 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.

OVER THE AIR
Tonight’s game will be aired live on ESPN2. Wow! A CAA game on an ESPN channel! Weird. Hofstra will also provide audio and live stats at the Pride Productions hub.

HOFSTRA IN THE POSTSEASON
This marks the Flying Dutchmen’s 13th appearance in a postseason tournament, their 10th appearance in a tournament we’ll gladly acknowledge and the program’s sixth trip to the NIT. The Dutchmen also appeared in the NIT in 1999, 2005, 2006 2007 and 2016.

The Dutchmen are 2-12 in postseason play at the Division I era, with the only wins recorded during the 2006 NIT. The Dutchmen will take the court tonight one day shy of the 13th anniversary of their most recent NIT win, a 77-75 victory over St. Joseph’s

THE CAA IN THE NIT
The Dutchmen are the first CAA team to appear in the NIT since Charleston fell to Colorado State in the first round of the 2017 NIT. The last CAA team to record a win in the NIT was Drexel, which won its first two games in 2012 before losing to Massachusetts and Chaz Williams (of course) in the quarterfinals. The only CAA team to reach Madison Square Garden in the NIT was Old Dominion in 2006, which got there by beating the Dutchmen (of course) in the quarterfinals. The CAA is 17-36 all-time in the CAA.

SEVENTH HEAVEN?
Despite a top-80 NET, the Dutchmen were screwed with a seven seed in the NIT. Would be nice if there was a league to advocate for them. However, 15 teams seeded seventh or lower have won at least one game in the NIT since 2010, including three seven seeds (Belmont, Akron and Oakland) in 2017. Last season marked the only time this decade a seventh- or eighth-seed did not win a game.

SCOUTING NORTH CAROLINA STATE
The Wolfpack, under second-year head coach Kevin Keatts OH YEAH HIM WOW THAT’S A TOTAL COINCIDENCE THAT THE COMMITTEE PAIRED US AGAINST HIM DIDN’T SEE THAT ONE COMING, earned an at-large bid after going 22-11 overall and 9-9 in the ACC. North Carolina State last played Thursday, when it fell to Virginia, 76-56, in the ACC quarterfinals.

The Dutchmen and Wolfpack had one common foe this season Both team opened their seasons with wins over Mount St. Mary’s. North Carolina State earned a 105-55 victory on Nov. 6, three days before Hofstra notched a 79-61 win.

The Dutchmen are ranked 94th at KenPom.com today. The Wolfpack are ranked 33rd at KenPom.com. They are the third-highest team at KenPom to miss the NCAA Tournament, behind Clemson (29th) and Texas (30th)

According to KenPom.com, the Dutchmen rank 17th in the nation in offensive efficiency (116.3) and 260th in defensive efficiency (108.8). The Wolfpack are 35th in the nation in offensive efficiency (112.7) and 38th in defensive efficiency (98.0).

The Wolfpack have three players averaging in double figures, led by senior guard Torin Dorn (13.4 ppg), who also leads the team with 7.1 rebounds per game. Junior guard Markell Johnson is averaging 11.9 ppg and a team-high 4.1 assists per game while C.J. Bryce, hmm, he sounds familiar, is averaging 11.3 ppg.

KenPom.com predicts an 84-74 win by North Carolina State. Per the wise guys in Vegas, for entertainment purposes only, the Wolfpack are 8.5-point favorites. Hofstra is 19-14 against the spread and has dropped seven of its last eight, as far as the bookies are concerned.

NORTH CAROLINA STATE IN THE NIT
The Wolfpack are in the NIT for the 12th time and the first time since 2010. North Carolina State has never won the NIT but reached the semifinals for the fourth time in 2010.

KEVIN KEATTS VS. HOFSTRA
North Carolina State coach Kevin Keatts, of course, spent three seasons as the head coach at UNC Wilmington before heading to the Wolfpack following the 2016-17 season. UNC Wilmington went 5-2 against Hofstra under Keatts with, as you may remember, an 80-73 overtime win in the 2016 CAA championship game. Argh.

ALL-TIME VS. NORTH CAROLINA STATE
Hofstra is 0-2 all-time against the Wolfpack, with an 82-56 loss during the 1983-84 season and a 76-64 loss on Nov. 17, 2014.

ALL-TIME VS. THE ACC
Hofstra is 5-28 all-time against current ACC foes. The Dutchmen last faced an ACC opponent on—whoa—Nov. 17, 2017, when they fell to Clemson, 78-59, in the Charleston Classic. The Dutchmen last beat an ACC opponent on Nov 20, 2015, when they edged Florida State 82-77 in the opener of the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands.

THINGS YOU CAN SHOUT ON TWITTER IF CALLS GO DO NOT GO HOFSTRA’S WAY
David Thompson hated the NIT bias! (Thompson may have been the first to disparage the NIT when he called it a “loser’s tournament” in 1975)
Philip Rivers has enough kids to field an entire college basketball team bias! (The former Wolfpack quarterback has eight kids!)
Tim Stoddard bias! (The North Carolina State alum is one of just two men to play in a Final Four and a World Series)
C’mon Kevin let us have this for the love of God let us have this bias! (Duh)

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young


Juan’ya Green. Ameen Tanksley. Rokas Gustys. Brian Bernardi. Denton Koon. Malik Nichols. Andre Walker.

It’s been 36 months, or 156 weeks, or 1,110 days, or 1,598,400 minutes since we were last in this position (but who’s counting?) and nothing has really changed about the self-aware nature of this arrangement.

We remain grown-ass adults, some more likely to act their age than others, insanely and completely invested in a college basketball team, even though the four or five or six years we actually spent in college are even smaller specks in the rear view mirror. Our memories of the years where the players were our classmates, our lunch-mates and our drinking buddies are equal parts crisper, more remote and more exaggerated than they were in March 2016.

Most of us are at the point where none of the players on the court were even alive when we strutted around campus. If we are being logical and sensible, we realize we are rooting for laundry, worn by increasingly younger men who came to Hofstra for an opportunity and have no connection to our tenure, or the memories, good and bad, that molded our emotional fandom.

Charles Jenkins. Greg Washington. Nathaniel Lester. Mike Moore. Brad Kelleher. David Imes. Mo Cassara.

Of course, sports isn’t about being logical and sensible, especially when they are played at a place that grows more important and meaningful to us with each passing year. What began as a hunch on a splendid tour of campus in the fall or perhaps as a marriage of convenience organically turned into something much more.

Thousands of people over the previous several decades walked the same campus we walked, but just like them, we forged our own paths over those 244 sprawling acres. Traditions were established, the cement of a foundation poured, the seeds of relationships planted and branching off in ways we couldn’t have imagined that first August day we strolled into an 8 AM class.

Osei Millar. Kenny Adeleke. Wendell Gibson. Michael Radziejewski. Woody Souffrant. Yogev Berdugo. Chris McRae.

We don’t need an NCAA Tournament men’s basketball team to be prideful of Hofstra, but there’s a reason sports are called the front porch of a school. It’s the best way for us to thump our chests about how much we love the place, and the segue into why it means so much to us. It was that way in the first days we spent on campus, when the connection became immediate and unbreakable, forever establishing “we” as our pronoun of choice with Hofstra.

The bond grows stronger with each passing year and as we grow a little paunchier, a little grayer, a little thinner atop the scalp, a little more vulnerable to the punches life never seemed to throw back in the day. But basketball games take us back in time a couple hours a night 30-plus times a year, to the days of lesser waistlines and thicker heads of hair and the endless invincibility of youth. 

Justin Jones. Omar Alston. Brian Sisti. Jorge Lebron. Chris Gadley. Anthony Noble. Sal Patricio. Sam Cherilus. Kevin Nee. David Vallins.

Our emotional investment often reduces us to illogical insanity. With each game we see, we are farther and farther removed from whatever athletic prime we ever enjoyed. But we’ll still watch and believe we are out there, sometimes even forcing upon today’s players the historical narrative we’ve constructed for ourselves and their feats. It sounds even crazier today than it did three years ago.

And yet, just like three years ago, we will never feel as young as we do tonight, and we will embrace it. We will live vicariously through those on the floor as well as those young enough to still get away with uttering “we,” and we will do so with the perspective afforded by our experience.

Arminas Urbutis. Gibran Washington. Kenny Harris. Ryan Johnson. Mantas Leonavicius. Zygis Sestakos. Mike Davis-Sabb.

We’ll also do so believing this team understands that perspective more than any recent predecessor. Joe Mihalich was in Niagara and any player on the floor for the Dutchmen tonight was a pre-teen in 2006, so Mihalich nor his players certainly didn’t spend the subsequent years wishing they’d better savored the hours leading up to tipoff against UNC Wilmington, or regretted taking a spot in the conference title game for granted because the best players were underclassmen and there would be more nights like this on the horizon. Nobody coaching or playing tonight will wish he knew then what he knows now, that the deck was stacked against the Dutchmen in ways we couldn’t have imagined.

It’ll be different tonight, for them and for us. A decade between championship game appearances allowed us to savor that gorgeous Monday afternoon in March three years ago, to let the anticipation build as we passed the time walking the Inner Harbor and tried to will the clock to move faster as we toured the sights and sounds of Baltimore. We let our imaginations wander when Hofstra carried a double-digit lead into the locker room.

Dane Johnson. Greg Johnson. Darren Townes. Miklos Szabo. Cornelius Vines. Yves Jules. Tony Dennison. Chaz Williams. Halil Kanacevic.

And we understood just what had slipped through our grasp on a ride home up I-95 that was long and quiet, but much shorter and louder than the one Mihalich took with Justin Wright-Foreman and Desure Buie. We didn’t need first-round exits in each of the next two tournaments to underscore the lesson, but we got them anyway.

“We’re going to really cherish this, because it’s really hard to do,” Mihalich said at a press conference following last night’s 78-74 overtime win over Delaware. “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.”

Paul Bilbo. Roland Brown. Dwan McMillan. Stevie Mejia. Daquan Brown. Taran Buie. Matt Grogan. Jereme Good. Tevin Smikle.

There will be no taking in the sights of Charleston for 95 percent of us (thanks again Tom!). Any savoring of the anticipation and nervousness and willing of the clock to move faster will take place at our desks or in our chairs.

We’ll know what our friend Dan Crain wrote in February, that this is the only guarantee we have, and that while we will hope there are more opportunities ahead, there will never be another chance just like this one. 

Jody Card. George Davis. Jordan Allen. Stephen Nwaukoni. Darren Payen. Chris Jenkins. Shemiye McLendon.

But even from afar, this will mean more to us than it did in 2016. Now, as then, we will ensure there will be no regrets over an inability to know what this means, and how it feels. We understand it will be over before its begun, and that we must savor the hours leading up to the two hours we’ve been waiting to experience the last three years, the last 13 years, the last 18 years.We don’t know if the dream will become reality, but tonight is for real, and we need to remember how it feels, for however long it lasts and however long we need it to last. 

Adam Savion. Dan Steinberg. Jamall Robinson. Daryl Fowlkes. Eliel Gonzalez. Moussa Kone. Dion Nesmith. Ty Greer. Hunter Sabety. Tommy Ros. Joel Angus III.

All the while, we will do so knowing this team — full of Hofstra lifers who have experienced a roller coaster ride in Hempstead and transfers who have crammed a career’s worth of unexpected memories into one or two years — does not share our burden, but understands it. Everyone knows how many years it’s been since 2001. Everyone knows why Craig Claxton is still recognized as Speedy, and how what he did at Hofstra overshadows everything he did in the NBA.

Tom Pecora. Antoine Agudio. Carlos Rivera. Adrian Uter. Aurimas Kieza. Loren Stokes.

Tonight Justin Wright-Foreman and Desure Buie and Jacquil Taylor and Eli Pemberton and Tareq Coburn and Kenny Wormley and Dan Dwyer and Jalen Ray and Stafford Trueheart and Matija Radovic and Kevin Schutte and Connor Klementowicz and Joe Mihalich will try to dance for themselves, and to enjoy what happens when talent intersects with a little bit of good fortune, and to grasp the opportunity to reach the pinnacle of the sport they play and coach. Tonight is about them, and their chance to ensure they are remember for as long as sports are played at Hofstra University.

Zeke Upshaw.

But when they take the court tonight, they will also be doing so for everyone who ever wore the uniform before them, especially the 82 players, two head coaches and eight assistant coaches who immediately preceded them that never got to dance. They will be taking the court for those that never wore the uniform but for whom Hofstra basketball has been a constant companion through all the ups and downs and twists and turns that basketball and life have offered over the last 18 seasons. Tonight, once again, they will try to dance for the desperate and the broken-hearted.

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.

THE MOST RECENT GAME SUMMARIZED IN ONE PARAGRAPH
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

SEASON STANDINGS
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.”

WAS THIS A UNICORN SCORE?
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

A PERFECT TENTH?
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.

A RECORD-SETTING VICTORY
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.

GET TO THE WORKIN’ OVERTIME PART
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).

AN OVERTIME WIN A LONG TIME IN COMING
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.

THIRD TIME’S THE CHARM—BARELY (part one)
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

THIRD TIME’S THE CHARM—BARELY (part two)
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)

JWF GOES INTO WARP MODE AGAIN
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.

YOU’RE JUSTIN WRIGHT-FOREMAN! YOU PLAY BASKETBALL FOR THE HOFSTRA FLYING DUTCHMEN!
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)

NUMBER THREE STAYS NUMBER THREE (barely)
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)

JWF ABOUT TO ADD ANOTHER LAUREL
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 REMAINS AT FIFTEEN
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.

OVER THE AIR
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 REVENGE OF THE AMERICA EAST
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.

ONE VS. TWO ALL OVER AGAIN
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.

EIGHT IN A ROW FOR THE ONE
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.

DUTCHMEN ARE FIVE-FOR-FIVE AS THE ONE
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.

HUNTING THE HUSKIES
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!

SCOUTING NORTHEASTERN
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.

ALL-TIME VS. NORTHEASTERN
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 IN THE CAA TOURNAMENT
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!

THINGS YOU CAN SHOUT ON TWITTER IF CALLS GO DO NOT GO HOFSTRA’S WAY
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)