My NEC picks

For tonight:

Robert Morris wins a closer game than you'd expect, needing an early second-half run to ice it.

Here's all you need to know about the league this year: I like LIU to win the tournament, but I'm trying to talk myself out of liking Quinnipiac to win tonight.

Bryant makes the most of this showcase opportunity and wins at home.

And last but not least, Wagner outscores CCSU in a game which isn't as wild as last year's between the two, but is still crazy. Central won't be as down as many as it was when it rallied in last year's quarterfinal on Staten Island, but it's been seven years since a top three seed lost a quarterfinal at home.
I think the Vegas line is way too high and I wouldn't be shocked by any means if CCSU finds a way, however. Especially since Vinales has been so good vs. Wagner this year. Either he does it again or the Seahawks put so much attention on him it allows either Malcolm McMillan or Matt Hunter to score more.
My head tells me Wagner wins by less than 10, but I'm also rather certain tonight doesn't end with the four higher seeds all winning.

CCSU men's basketball regular season review

By the time you read this, we'll be just a few hurs away form the start of the NEC Tournament for 2013. Before the postseason begins, however, I thought I'd take a quick look back at how the Blue Devils got to this point by playing another game of man-to-man.

ADONIS BURBAGE: He became a bit more than just a one-dimensional shooter this year, earning his place as a starter for most of the season. He's still a shooter who is prone to streaks and needs to have his feet set to have a good chance to nail the shot, but he also brings good energy to the team. I actually prefer him as a spark off the bench, at least with this year's team, but that's not a knock.

KYLE VINALES: I'm sorry, I'm not familiar with him. What number is he again?
Obviously I'm kidding. Vinales, barring injury, will leave Central with most of the school's scoring records. That will come two years from now, which gives him time to further grow as a player. For now, he's an elite scorer who's willing and able to play every minute every night and who wants the ball with the game on the line. He can be prone to cold spells and gets a bit eager to shoot at times, but he's far from a selfish player. The biggest misconception about Vinales is that he's a ball hog. He's actually pretty good about knowing when he has cooled off and can get the ball into other people's hands.
In short, Vinales was asked to become the go-to player this year and did nicely with the role. Central will need him to be the star tonight.

ANDREW HURD: Believe it or not, I think he can be a useful player. He's not Vinales, but he can be a 5-10 minute guy who gives him a break more consistently going forward.

DE'ANGELO SPEECH: His loss is a huge one for this team, which needed the depth and versatility he provided.

MALCOLM McMILLAN: Before the season, the thought about CCSU's point guard was he was a jump shot away from being a real player. Well, he can shoot now. If his legs hold up, he'll become one of the best points ever to play in New Britain.

KHALEN CUMBERLANDER: We didn't get to see enough of him for me to have a thought other than this was another body the Blue Devils could have used.

ERIK RALEIGH: A great story who saw some time. Very raw, so who knows.

JOE EFESE: I need to see how this story ends before I write too much about him. I could see an explosion from him this week.

MATT HUNTER: My biggest regret this season is that I haven't written more about Hunter. He doesn't put up numbers in the spectacular fashion Vinales does, but the numbers he puts up are often spectacular.
This is going to be a track meet tonight and it's on a big stage. In other words, tonight was made for Matt Hunter.
By the way, there's no way there were 10 better players in the NEC this year. The coaches got that one wrong. Hunter was in the Top 10 in the league in scoring and rebounding and is in the Top 10 in the country in steals. I can see second team all NEC, but not third.

GREG ANDRADE: Another player whose athleticism makes him interesting going forward.

TERRELL ALLEN: He developed a 3-point shot this year but wasn't always consistent with it or his game as a whole. When he's on, he can do a bit of everything, and I've always liked his intangibles. Central will need him tonight. We'll talk about his future role later.

BRANDON PEEL: His emergence changed Central's season for the better. He steps into a permanent starting role next year, but he needs to gain valuable postseason experience this week.

Catching up with the Blue Devils after CCSU and Kyle Vinales win the game of the year

Just wanted to get something up here quick after a wild one I'm going to be writing about for awhile. Please remember that while I take way too long breaks from this blog, I write quite a bit over at (and in the paper itself, but I can't link to that here.)
Doing a full man-to-man feels wrong tonight since, despite numerous contributions, this game was about one man and one shot.
Howie Dickenman told Kyle Vinales to make something happen. The sophomore sure did, making a who knows how many-footer in the final seconds to give Central its first win over the Bobcats in nine tries.
When it happened, I turned tot he person next to me on press row and said "that might be the worst shot I've ever seen."
His reply: "It went in, didn't it?"
Vinales had been struggling all night, but what makes him so exciting (and so tough) is that he doesn't worry about it. The last 10 shots, makes or misses, have no baring on his confidence about the next one he puts up. He thinks it's going in.
He's right a lot, and this one proved the rest of us wrong.
So I thought I'd give you a couple of punchlines from Vinales, who was in as rare a form after the game as he was at the end of it.

"I thought it was going in," he said with a smile.

When asked what the rim looked like from 28 feet away, he said "the ocean."

"He told me to make something happen," Vinales said, referring to Dickenman. "He told me to score, so I did."

And my favorite, after I asked him if he realized how far away he was when he took the shot, he said:

"No. After I shot it I said, 'damn, that was kind of far'. But it was a good choice I guess."

That might be debatable, but the result was not.

A we're finally all dug out from the storm edition of the blog

So after losing about a week dealing with various storm issues, finally sitting down at the blog. Just wanted to check in before the game starts.
First, a few notes, which I've mentioned in the paper and twitter, but just to make sure we're all on the same page.
The men's game vs. QU in New Britain is now 2/25 at 7 p.m. The women will host LIU on 2/20.
Central should be in good shape tonight physically. Brandon Peel should be up for full minutes tonight.
The Blue Devils have actually been good at times on the road, but this stretch is going to be tough. Getting this one would guarantee Central the tiebreak ahead of Wagner and get the Blue Devils back in the discussion for home court in the tournament.
We're to the time of year where you have to scoreboard watch, so we'll look at where the league stands after the night.

CCSU Men's basketball update after win over FDU

Just got home from work, quick update of couple things I was told tonight.
1) Kyle Vinales had a bit of a toe issue as well as foul trouble, but it isn't serious. I have to double check, but unofficially I have him 28 from 1,000 now.
2) If you were following on's gamecast instead of NEC Front Row or 1410, you might have seen De'Angelo Speech's name in the box score. It has since been fixed, he did not play.

CCSU men's basketball midseason man-to-man

With the NEC season passing the midseason point, I thought it would be a good idea to break down the season in the way we usually do the individual games.

So before we start the second half by looking at the big win at Monmouth, let's break down the first half by going man-to-man.

Adonis Burbage: He's worked to become less one-dimensional as the season has gone on, but he's still best known for his corner threes, something he has come to excel at at times. He's still too streaky, but when he's hot, he gives Central a huge weapon. His best game of the year was last week against SF-Brooklyn, when he became a rebounder in the absence of Brandon Peel. If he can mix the three, a little driving, the rebounding and the threes, he will be a huge piece. For now, he's a heck of a compliment. 

Kyle Vinales: I don't know if you've heard, but the kid is a pretty good scorer. He has 967 points in 49 games. Mark down Thursday night in New Britain vs. LIU, as that should be the night he becomes the fastest to 1,000 points in school history. Most importantly, he has developed into more than just a shooter. He has learned to defer to others when either they are hot or he isn't, and is turning into a solid assist man. He's been everything you'd want from your star. And he has two years to further develop. 

Andrew Hurd: He will get his shot up, we know that. But he has shown the capability to give Central a good 5-10 minutes of relief for their guards. I'd love to see him get those minutes a little more consistently. 

De'Angelo Speech: His loss, probably for the season, thanks to a couple of different injuries, really hurt. Central could have used another ball-handler and perimeter defender, two things Speech could have provided. 

Malcolm McMillan: He's been good all year, though his assist-to-turnover ratio was a little low early in the year, mostly because of the high expectations (and need) Central had for him as opposed to his actual play. In the last couple of weeks, however, he has added offense to his game, making him much more of a threat. It's one of the two transformations which has Central thinking about contending in the league again. 

Khalen Cumberlander: Another guard Central could have really used who was lost to an injury. The backcourt will be deep next year. 

Erik Raliegh: A wonderful story who hopefully can contribute before he graduates. 

Joe Efese: He had his breakout game Thursday night at Monmouth. He saw his time greatly reduced with the emergence of Brandon Peel, but has seemed to use it as motivation, showing off a nice little jumper and a renewed intensity on defense since. I'd still like to see more of the "big" lineup Central used against Wagner more, if for no other reason than Peel and Efese both deserve to play. Efese will be heard from before this year is over, as he was last night. 

Matt Hunter: The quiet superstar. He can score and gives Central needed energy. He makes its transition game go, and has greatly limited his turnovers as the season has gone along. If he can keep his shooting percentage up, he might be the unsung hero of the season. 

Greg Andrade: He's another good athlete who could give Central a few minutes, especially at the end of games which have been decided. Hey, it doesn't matter where the five minutes come from. 

Terrell Allen: Central's other backup big, he is another guy who developed his game as the year went along. He can shoot a little bit from the outside but just has to remember his bread andbutter is hustle and interior play. 

Brandon Peel: The breakout star of the season. His rebounding and interior play has become critical to Central, which started turning the year around when he was inserted into the lineup. He only got a minute Thursday because of his bum ankle, and the Blue Devils have to hope he's close to returning to his normal time. If he is, this season might be getting interesting. 

CCSU men's basketball fades in loss to Quinnipiac

Malcolm McMillan said what we all knew to be true: CCSU had run of out gas. 
The Blue Devils, having lost yet another player and running out of viable options, actually held up well for more than 30 minutes. 
In the end, however, there were just too many Bobcats. 
Central tried to hang tough, but a big loose ball went to Shaq Shannon, who stuck a big shot and ended Central's comeback bid. The Blue Devils would have been outrebounded no matter what, but losing Brandon Peel's services to a rolled ankle proved costly for Central, which needs all the interior help it can get. 
So, on a night when Central went zone to try and save some energy and force the Bobcats to make shots (which they did), let's play man-to-man. 

Adonis Burbage: I liked his aggressiveness. He tried to be more than just a corner shooter tonight, and it paid off with free throw opportunities. He's going to have to start helping inside, however, with some rebounds. 

Brandon Peel: The ankle injury doesn't sound too serious long term, but Central desperately needs bodies at this point, especially now that it seems as though De'Angelo Speech won't be returning. 

Kyle Vinales: He jsut had nothing left. Here's a kid who plays darn near the entire game every night while being double-teamed, not to mention grabbed and harassed when he's being covered by one man. He was brilliant for a half, but couldn't hold up, even needing an extended break down the stretch. Howie Dickenman admitted Vinales was tired after the game, and hinted that he wouldn't have put Vinales back in with a minute to go if Burbage hadn't fouled out. 
It's totally understandable, but Vinales has had some games recently where he's only been able to put one big half together. If Central is going to do anything with this season, it must figure out a way to not only get Vinales some rest, but get him going more consistently while he's on the floor. 

Malcolm McMillan: I mean, what else do you want him to do? He's becoming a scorer, even making outside shots. He played 36 minutes and had one turnover. He was second in rebounding. I suppose you could try and ask him to try and do a little more to help Central's currently struggling defense, but even that doesn't seem much of his fault. I have a feeling he could be a breakout star by next year. 

Matt Hunter: If you look at his line, there's nothing wrong with it, save for a shooting percentage that's a touch low. This was a night, however, when the Blue Devils could have used one of Hunter's huge games. He has been a wonderful Robin this season, but every once in a while Central needs him to be Batman, even if it's just for 10 minutes at a time like tonight. 

Andrew Hurd: He's going to have to play eight minutes a night. He just has to. 

Joe Efese: He got the extended minutes I think Central needs from him, though the Blue Devils would have preferred they came while he was standing next to Peel. He had three blocks, but needs to get more rebounds. That one with abut 90 seconds left would have been huge. You do have to like his newly found offensive confidence, however. Those little jumpers are going in with regularity. 

Greg Andrade: I'd love to see if he could steal a couple of minutes here and there as well. 

Terrell Allen: He struggled with his shot, but gave Central some badly needed rebounding. I have a feeling that missed dunk will be seen again on TV, but he played more than well enough to deserve a break on it. 

CCSU men's basketball drops tough one at home

As happens every January, we got away from the blog a bit, but I'm looking to remedy that now as the stretch drive of the season approaches.
So let's start with some thoughts on today's game, then I have a special man-to-man segment planned for the 1/3 poll of the NEC season,
For the Blue Devils, Saturday's loss to the Mount was depressing. The Blue Devils answered the bell after the Mount caught up to them at the end of the first half, going back up by eight midway through the second half.
Then the roof caved in.
Malcolm McMillan played brilliantly, getting open shots, having the nerve to take them, and drilling three after three. This was especially important because the Mount did a great job shutting Kyle Vinales down in the second half.
He didn't have much help, however. Matt Hunter was in foul trouble all day. Central's interior offense, so good Thursday night, faltered. And the defense was non existent.
Central just got outworked defensively in this one. I liked that Malcolm thought the offense could be even better, especially against zone (something Central has struggled with of late and that I'll talk more about in the  paper soon), but the game could have been won with some D.
Too often there were open outside shooters, and the Mount had too many easy putbacks. Central just looked completely out of sorts defensively.
I liked that the Blue Devils never seemed to quit, but they have to be very upset to have only gone 2-2 on this homestand. If they don't get home court in the first round, we'll look back at this stretch (and of course the SFPA game) as a big reason why.

CCSU Men's basketball injury update

We're going to start doing more in-depth stuff on here ASAP, I swear now that I'm feeling much better and should have some more time.
For now, however, wanted to pass this along. It seems like DeAngelo Speech won't play today, as the never-ending saga of his impending return has been delayed again by the knee injury he suffered Thursday. I hear it's not incredibly serious, but it does appear as though the return will have to wait.

Update on Speech, aka no I'm not crazy

Howie Dickenman said after the game last night that the call was made right before tip to allow De'Angelo Speech a little more time to get acclimated with the team's schemes and the game itself again before getting back into action. He'll practice this week and is expected....there's that word again... to play Thursday night.

CCSU men's basketball to get De'Angelo Speech back today

Howie Dickenman just said he expects De'Angelo Speech to play some minutes off the bench today after missing the first 14 games of the year with a shin injury.
Obviously he'll have to see how he feels during the game, and best case it will only be a few minutes off the bench, but if he can give 10 minutes and provide 5 or so minutes of rest for Kyle Vinales and Malcolm McMillan each, that would be a big boost for the Blue Devils.

Breaking down what Central can take out of a trip Indiana (and a tough loss)

One side note before we begin: Dear Big Ten Network, please feel free to cut away from the game that's a 10-point lead with 20 seconds left in order to get to the start of the next one. Thanks.

First, as a basketball fan, just tell me when the IU-Duke game is. I'm in. If they put it on PPV, I'm buying. Duke has the best resume as of today, but Indiana has the deepest and best offensive team n the country.

As Central found out Saturday night, the Hoosiers can play defense, too.

IU coach said his staff had the Hoosiers down for some 50 deflections during their rout of Central. It make sense, as the Hoosiers seemed to be everywhere on defense. We all knew how good Cody Zeller was, but Victor Oladipo had himself a bit of a coming out party, dominating the game at both ends.

CCSU coach Howie Dickenman said after the game his team had no answers for Indiana. As good as Zeller is, it wasn't the post game itself that had IU in control but the Hoosiers' ability to get the ball inside almost at will. Central couldn't stop the ball from being thrown inside and on the other end, threw too many balls into the hands of defenders.

In the Blue Devils' defense, there were defenders everywhere. Between the defense and the way the Hoosiers always seemed to have two guys on the other end of the floor after a steal, it seemed like there were 8 Hoosiers on the court at once.

Of course, the bulk of that defense was used on Kyle Vinales, who the Hoosiers focused on by rotating defenders to always have a fresh man on him and using more than one guy at a time at some points. Yes, part of the problem was that he was playing a different level of opposition, but he appeared to be rushing his shots. He took some too early, and even seemed quick on his open looks. Perhaps he was pressing on the grand stage, or maybe the defense made him get too quick. Whatever it was, I wouldn't expect to see it again. I'm not saying he'll score 40 at Syracuse, but I think he'll find a comfort level in big games going forward.

Speaking of people finding comfort levels and scoring 40 points, Matt Hunter became the third opponent ever to drop 40 on the Hoosiers at Assembly Hall. He did it with a dominant second half, scoring 26 and hitting some ridiculous shots. He went hard to the rim early, the made jumpers as the game went on. It was an impressive, in control attack that furthered Hunter's offensive emergence.

His game also put the NEC on notice. Put too many resources on stopping Vinales and Hunter can be  deadly. If the two continue to work on becoming a dynamic duo, Central will be fine going forward. Who knows, Central might get another chance at IU down the road.

Mat to Man

I know, I've been away, but let's do this for history's sake.

Adonis Burbage: Didn't make many of his threes, but managed a couple of assists and a steal.

Joe Efese: Other than hoping he'd have grabbed a couple more rebounds, it's hard to ask him to do more against Cody Zeller. He's really on the way to a breakout year I think.

Kyle Vinales: Was just trying too hard I think. I think he can handle the big stage, he just wanted this one too badly. But he didn't take too many shots, letting the hot hand have the ball, and had a bunch of assists.

Malcolm McMillan: Was a little quick to take jump shots in this one. If he can make a couple he becomes a huge asset to the offense. But if he's not hitting, he should shoot as a last resort. Shots on drives are fine, jump shots not as much.

Matt Hunter: Became the 3rd person to drop 40 on the Hoosiers at Assembly Hall. Even more impressive, he shot better than 50 percent from the floor. Even more impressive, he had only 4 turnovers while having the ball that much.
Now you're going to tell me, they lost by 40, who cares? I do, for this reason: His confidence has to be sky high after this one. If he can stay hot tonight, he might really take off.

Andrew Hurd: Dickenman talked about getting more kids involved, and this is a good example. Give him 5-8 minutes a game.

Erik Raleigh: Really nice to see him get on the court. Maybe by next year he'll be a contributor. He's a wonderful story.

Terrell Allen: He won't be in foul trouble playing that way against the NEC.

Brandon Peel: I'm really, really high on this kid. He's going to be a big contributor inside for this team going forward.