Home cooking?

Per a request I talked to people in the know this afternoon, and if CCSU wins Sunday, there's pretty much no chance they would host the quarters. CCSU is among (though now I bet the committee wishes it could start over) the lowest seeds in the dance.
That, however, didn't come from the NCAA itself, so yell at my sources, not me, if I'm wrong. However, I'd put it at 2 percent that CCSU would get a home game.

However, I'd put Central being there at 50 percent, which isn't bad at all.

Button up for a good cause

Saturday's basketball games will mark the annual CCSU Button-Up Connecticut Coat Drive. Anyone who donates a winter coat will receive a free general admission ticket to both the games. The women start at noon and the men go at about 2 p.m.
So be generous, bring a coat so that someone less fortunate can be warm while we watch another exciting basketball season.

Clearing a couple things up

Now I'll admit I knew nothing about the men's soccer tourney before this all started, but having done some checking...

UMass is the higher seed, that's why they're hosting. UMass was the higher seed in their pod. If you think of it like the basketball, it would go: BC, Tulsa, (the national seeds) Harvard, UMass (the hosts in the first round) then BU and CCSU. It had nothing to do with Central not having a good enough field.

Using the same logic I think CCSU goes to UIC or SMU, but let's worry about that next week.

PS, a men's thought

I won't lie, between being at the women's game and watching the soccer game on a video feed, then hustling to write two stories, I didn't get to follow much of the men's game tonight except for scoring updates and an occasional check of GameTracker.

I did pick up two things. First off, there seems to be more offensive diversity, which is a good sign. Secondly, it was 20-7 I believe early, and the Blue Devils rallied and fought to stay in it all night. Say what you will about this year's team, but they refuse to let anyone blow them out.

At some point, that trait will have to start leading to wins in order for it to matter. But for now, it's a glimmer of hope. Remember what I said from Day 1: Don't judge this team until January.

Are you kidding?

That was the theme of the day in Devilland. At one point tonight, coach Green said to me, "CCSU is playing for a spot in the final 8. Did you ever think you'd hear those words?"

Honestly, I did not. Though it couldn't have happened to a better bunch of people. And to see the support they're getting from the community and at the school is pretty neat. By the way, the bracket has opened up like the sky during a summer thunderstorm. There's no reason now that this team can't make the national semifinals. Especially if it's going to score 3 goals a game.

Great first half from the women tonight, not much after that. I'll post more on both of these games tomorrow, just wanted to touch base with you all tonight. I will say that, while they were late-arriving, the turnout to see coach Piper's first game was impressive.

The second half defense was not.

By the way, I know I've been a little behind in the hoops coverage, but I do promise that will pick up. At the rate this soccer season is going, however, that might not be until the middle of December.

Quite frankly, soccer season was supposed to be over a couple of weeks ago. And even more honestly, I have no problem with the fact that it's not. We'll be all over the two key NEC games that the hoopsters have coming up, but right now, Blog Central is Soccer Central.

Belief without evidence

It's a pretty cool thing. To have the faith in yourself and your teammates that things will work out, no matter how bleak they may seem at the time, is a special trait.
Shaun Green has it, and it's rubbing off on his team.
By now, anyone reading this blog or anything in the paper under my name knows the story. Green was sitting in the rain after CCSU's latest gut-wrenching loss, the season seemingly over. A year in which Green had worked himself to the bone getting the biggest recruiting class in school history, acquiring corporate sponsors and doing everything he could think of to raise the program's stature had gone up in smoke.
"At one point we were 2-8-2 and I was thinking to myself, how can this be," Green said. "How can so many people put in so much work and not get any rewards for it?"
Still, Green never let his team stop working as hard as he and his staff were. The program kept plugging. Now, eight incredible games later, the Blue Devils are a win away from the Sweet 16.
"There's a thing in life called belief without evidence," Green said. "Religion is founded upon it. People believe in God but they haven't seen him. I believe in God, but I haven't met God. I believe in UFOs. There's 260 million planets in a galaxy and 260 million galaxies. There's got to be something out there, however I've never seen a UFO. My point is this: These guys believed in this team when the evidence didn't point to it."
While the science and math might be off, all the statistics, starting with the team records, indicated that Central had the worst team in the league. But the Blue Devils were undaunted.
"Don't ever let anyone tell you that you're finished," Green told his team.
It didn't. Seven wins and a tie later, CCSU is the conference champion and the first men's team in school history to win a NCAA game. Now it's up to Tulsa to try and tell the Devils they're finished.
The Blue Devils don't believe that will happen. But no matter what the result is on Wednesday night, this team has been given the rewards it so badly searched for in October.
"It's validation," Green said. "In anything you do in life you always look for some form of validation so that whatever you do has some worth to it. What we did by beating Harvard was validate all our work."
They've also given us all evidence that belief is all you need sometimes.

Weekend up North

What a weekend. Got the chance to spend Friday in my old stomping grounds of Boston, but you guys don't care about that, even though NU is quickly getting back in the thick of things in Hockey East!

The game today was fantastic. I never thought Central would have the chance to score three times, nor did I think the Devils could do it to be honest. Both of Harvard's goals were pretty, and you have to be really impressed with the way both teams battled. Harvard kept tying the game and seeming to take control, while Central kept battling back to take the lead again.

Yes, CCSU caught a huge break in the final seconds when the ball hit the crossbar, but luck is often the residue of hard work and preparation... at least that's what a tee shirt I used to have told me. Put it this way: Central put itself in the position to get lucky in the final seconds.

This blog will be quick as I have to go write my story now, but I wanted to give credit to the TONS of fans who made the trip. And to the guy who sent me that comment today... there were bleachers full of Central fans at Harvard today... I've been to state championship high school games, college games, all kinds of soccer... and the only crowd I've ever seen bigger than today was the last time the Revs were in New Britain.

What I'm thankful for

As Thanksgiving draws to a close (it did for you normal folks hours ago, I'm just getting to bed in a minute), I thought I'd go through the list of a few things I'm thankful for in the professional sense. Obviously I'm most thankful for my family, friends, and our troops, police and firemen that keep us safe every day, but I'm talking for now about CCSU sports. Some of these will be a little bit "inside," but you'll appreciate most of them.

I'm thankful for getting to work with coaches who are as better people than they are coaches. What Mick D'Arcy did last year at Quinnipiac says all you need to know about him, and he's the nicest guy you'll ever meet. Same goes for Shaun Green, Howie Dickenman, Charlie Hickey, Jeff McInerney... the list goes on and on.

I'm thankful for the perfect storm that is my beat: a DI college with accessible people.

I'm thankful for Tom, Jason, Derrick and the CCSU SID staff that goes above and beyond the call of duty all the time in an effort to help me, and by extension, you the fans. They work harder than any of you know.

I'm thankful for a coaching lesson I got last week, and for the little moments like it that make my job so unique.

I'm thankful I've converted a Knicks fan into a Celtics fan.

I'm thankful that the "competition" is so often a teammate.

I'm thankful for the tent on the soccer field and the people who hauled it to Berlin so I wouldn't end up sick.

I'm thankful that Beryl Piper will be given a chance to grow the women's program and that she was given a chance. It was a risky hire, but she deserved to have someone take a chance on her.

I'm thankful that Piper and McInerney both want to recruit in-state when possible. It's good for the state and the teams.

I'm thankful it's basketball season.

I'm thankful I've seen a large portion of Tristan Blackwood's career at Central, and for the final chapter he's about to write.

I'm thankful to have learned Javier Mojica's story, never mind that I got to tell it. And I'm most thankful that things worked out for him the way they did considering where he started from.

I'm thankful for all the great games I've been able to see at "work." From four overtimes vs. La Salle to the women's soccer team holding off LIU to the baseball team giving everything it has the last two years.

Most of all, I'm thankful for you the readers. You make what we do possible.

Styles make fights

And there won't be a better clash of styles than on Saturday in Cambridge. Central's big tough defense against a team in Harvard that scored more than 40 goals this season. The Crimson's top two players combined to score more goals than CCSU did this year.

Still, I kind of have a hunch that Central has a chance. The defense is solid, and their will is something to behold. I keep saying it, but it bares repeating. This team was dead. It has no business being here. After the way its heart was ripped out on top of a bad start?

But don't tell the Blue Devils that. They're here, and they truly think they can win. It says here that they do, in PK's. What the heck? I hear Tulsa's lovely in the winter.

I'm taking a day off on Friday and heading up to Boston early to see some old college friends, but I'll be with the Devils in Cambridge on Saturday. I'll catch up with you all when I get home Sat. night.

Nice win

The Blue Devil men get the first 'w' of the win, and show off some big qualities.

First off, they weren't shaken by another big deficit (including a ridiculous shot to end the half), nor by letting a lead get away late. Joe seems back on track, and Tristan might be bolstered by a big shot at the end of a game. The fact that Central is consistently able to get him chances at the end is another good sign.

A rebounder or two must emerge, but we'll worry about that tomorrow. Tonight is just a night for the Blue Devils to enjoy a win and their fans to rejoice.

If your'e planning a trip

And you should, soccer is kind of a fun game to be in the crowd for because you don't really have to focus every second like basketball or football for fear of missing something... you can see a play developing over a few seconds and get ready, and talk to your friends during midfield play if you're not a hardcore fan.

But anyway, the game has been moved to Noon on Saturday.

fun at Chili's

It was a great night, the kind that reminds you of the real reason you cover sports. A bunch of young guys hanging around, eating together and waiting for their moment on national television.

We'll have more of a preview later in the week, but for now I'll just say that this one is interesting. A fantastic offense against a defense that couldn't be hotter. It's Red Wings vs. Devils all over again.

For the record, the New Jersey Devils, the defensive team, swept the Red Wings, the offensive juggernaut, in the 1995 Stanley Cup finals. Maybe that's a good sign for this group of Devils.

My favorite moment of the night was this:

After CCSU's bracket came up, a team in blue was shown scoring a bunch of highlight-type goals. The place went nuts before one player yelled, "wait, that's not us!" That was followed by a chorus of boos.

It's little things like that that make my job so much fun. I haven't listed as many little anecdotes on here as I originally planned to, mainly because I'm never sure if the other people are okay with me sharing them. So just to the on the safe side, I save most of them. It's kind of too bad, because I have an absolute CLASSIC from the other night's basketball game.

The fun before the storm

So tonight I get to cover another Selection Show party, it's been awhile since I've seen one, I love them. I'm the guy who goes crazy when it's Selection Sunday (CCSU or not), heck I get excited in the office on what we call "bracket day" for high schools.

The men deserve a ton of credit, and should get a rather cool scenario, getting to experience the dance without having to get themselves to some far off land. And yet, they'll still get to play one of, perhaps the very best, teams in the country. No word on whether Greg Oden will be involved.

Now, our couple of hoops thoughts per your questions. Wanamaker was supposed to be out until around the holidays, I'll see if that changed.

Shemik did get a look at point the other night, and I got the impression after the game that coach wants to see more from him there. It DEFINITELY helped Tristan's comfort level.

Also, remember not to make bold assesments in November of a team full of freshmen. Tamir's going to improve. Simmons has shown flashes... the rebounding is going to be solid. Shemik is a player, even though we don't know his position yet. Hall is getting the chance to contribute.

Seriously, don't get too high on this team in the good moments, and certainly don't get too low during the bad times. We just don't know enough yet. I know we live in a world now where we all have to have opinions immediately on everything, even if evidence isn't there to support it, but give this group time before we start putting players in the Hall of Fame or declaring others useless.

Some stories write themselves

So after getting robbed by the NEC and losing another game in controversial fashion, the Blue Devils find themselves 0-3-1 in league play and in need of running the table or help just to make the playoffs.
They respond by going 4-0-1. Quinnipiac falters down the stretch. Central goes to the NEC tournament and beats mighty Monmouth for the second time in a month on a field where the Hawks hadn't lost an NEC regular season game in close to three years.
Then, they down the two-seed, SFPA, who took one in New Britain when Central's tying goal in the final seconds is waved off. Revenge is sweet.
Oh, and they do it all after nearly losing their leader less than two years ago to a heart attack.
Amazing stuff. I couldn't write a better script myself. Well, there's one more thing that makes the story better, but you'll have to read the paper Monday to find out.
I'll tell you one thing about the next chapter in this story. When the Devils go to UConn (I'd be stunned if they are sent anywhere else), they have a shot. Soccer is like Hockey in that the best team doesn't always win. CCSU's defense is solid. If they can get one break or convert one good chance, the Blue Devils could pull off another stunner.
After all, considering the last month, would anything this team does surprise you?

Some stories write themselves

So the men's soccer team gets robbed by the NEC, loses another game in controversial fashion and falls to 0-3-1 in the NEC. Just to make the playoffs, they must run the table and/or get help.
They go 4-0-1. Quinnipiac falters down the stretch. Central squeaks in. They beat the top seed, Monmouth, for the second time in less than a month. The Hawks hadn't lost an NEC game at home in 3 years. Then the Devils beat SFPA in the final. The Red Flash are the same team that held off Central when an offensive foul in the final seconds negated a CCSU goal.
The Devils do all of this less than two years after nearly losing their leader to a heart attack. You couldn't write a better script. Actually you can, but to read why you'll have to see my story in the paper in the morning.
I'll tell you one thing about the next chapter in this story. Soccer is a lot like hockey in that the better team doesn't always win. With Central's defense and one lucky play or one good chance converted, the Huskies (I'd be stunned if CCSU is paired with anyone else) could be in trouble.

last little thing of the night

Then I'm going to bed. Just want to, since I pointed it out the other night, mention that the championship banners at Detrick are now in order if my eyes served me right tonight.


Ever wondered what happened to Jermaine Middleton? Read Bart's column on Monday.

Joe update

It was for defensive reasons (mostly at least) that Hall started over Joe tonight, according to Coach Dickenman.
I don't have a feel for Hall yet as a player, but anyone who defends is o.k. in my book. Plus, I like the idea of Joe off the bench for instant offense. And you have to give him this, he didn't let his play suffer by sulking. 12 points on 4-for-6 from three in 27 minutes.

Yet more changes

Joe has become the instant offense man off the bench. I believe it's tied to Coach's attempt to get Tristan more rest. The move is a surprise, so I'll ask after the game, but it could have something to do with wanting more scoring off the bench.
Or it could be due to Joe's defensive struggles. That might actually be a better bet, I might be overthinking this.
I'll dig into it after the game, however.

The rout is on

and I don't mean at the Yale Bowl. Though that one is far more surprising than the one I'm watching.
Albany's just better. Every weakness we've seen in the Blue Devils this season has been exploited to perfection by the Great Danes. CCSU just doesn't have the horsepower this season to hang with them it would appear.
Still, as I said in Gameday today, the Blue Devils deserve tons of credit for getting this far with such a young team. When the squad that just played for the conference championship comes back next year with another year under its belt, it could be a bigger year.
Of course, now that I've written their eulogy, watch the Devils score 28 straight now.

A couple of hoops notes

Well, my day off has turned into four stories, but that's what I do for you people!

3 quick things.

1) Larry: Hang on there brother. I like the way this team is fighting and their athleticism too, but let's not go putting them at the top of the conference until they figure out how to win a game, k?

2) Still want everyone's predictions and thoughts on mine, as well as more questions I can dig into for you. I broached the whole "we need to pass more" topic again this week in Gameday. Give me something new you want me to chew on.

3) A bit of breaking news. CCSU can't say anything about this until she signs, but the women's hoops team will be getting a letter of intent from Gabby Oglesby from Career in New Haven. She'll sign it on Tuesday.

I just got this news and haven't seen her play, but I know someone who has, so I'll find out more about her for you. For now I can tell you she already had 1,000 points as a junior on a team that went 61-14 over those three seasons. She has a shot to break the school record for points this season.

If Central can start getting Connecticut kids the way coach McInerney has, it will only help raise interest in the program. The state seems to be producing more big-time women's players than men in recent years (at least from the Herald area... we have four girls and 2 boys playing D1 this year), and there aren't as many top-level hoopsters locally as their are football players for some reason, but any local connections help increase fan interest.

Thoughts on the first home game

If effort won championships, the Blue Devils would be ranked first in the country after last night. They moved on defense, were active on the boards and moved the ball around. Perhaps most impressive was the way they made Albany's ridiculous size advantage a non-factor. Hustle and being in the right place can make up for lack of height.

Offensively, there's some work left to do. Tristan is pressing, and sort of admitted to as much after last night's game (notebook coming Friday with more). Once he learns to trust his new running mates, and once they give him enough reason to trust them, he'll stop trying to do everything.

But I will say this: he's capable of doing everything. As poorly as he shot the ball Wednesday, he led the team in rebounds, ran the offense and was the best defender.
The kid's a machine. There's literally nothing he can't do on a basketball court, and he's as nice a kid as you'll meet. Last night, after a tough loss, he went out of his way to greet each reporter with a handshake, then did the same as he left the interview room.
Not that any Blue Devils have been disresprectful in my four years watching them, but Tristan just stands out in that way. He's never said no to an interview, and I've bugged him during some unusual times, and is the kind of guy who will take the heat, as his quote last night indicates. He wouldn't blame his miss on a bad call.
(For the record, it was right in front of me, and he WAS fouled at the end of overtime.)

I liked David Simmons' work a lot, but I'm not going to go crazy after one night. Just like I'm not going to lose hope on Tamir because he didn't get a ton of rebounds against a much bigger team.

Joe's bigger, Tristan's bigger, and the Blue Devils had more bulk inside than they have in some time last night. There was a lot to take out of the game, especially in the way the team fought back from a big hole and worked so hard on defense.

Shemik, I think, is going to become a fan favorite. He's quick, he doesn't mind shooting the ball, and he's tough. The kid has a cut almost the length of his cheek under his left eye.
I'm not going to burden him by comparing him to a recently departed fan favorite, but the Thompson has a similar kind of intangible quality, at least to me.

The bottom line is this. The Blue Devils will struggle early while they figure things out and the newcomers get their legs, but this will be the kind of team you don't want to play in March. It might be like three years ago, when CCSU was the eight-seed, but ask Monmouth if that team was an easy out come tournament time.

I don't think Central will be an eight, by the way. Speaking of which, now that we have some game scores to look at, and you've had the chance to see your squad in person, what do you guys think of my preseason predictions? What are yours?

I'm writing Gameday tonight, so I'll save football talk until tomorrow.

Fired up!

Oops, wrong sport. But I am excited. I'm in my seat just a step to the right of the midcourt stripe, and I'm psyched. I'm a basketball guy first and foremost, so I can't wait to tip tonight. Plus, as I said yesterday, I'm eager to see all these young guys play.

I'm a little surprised that the banner's on the left. I figured it would be with the other two on the far side, by the visitors bench. Maybe that's where the 2008 banner will go?

Let's find out.

Time to raise the banner, have to go.

Random thoughts

Very excited about the game Wed. night. It will be my first banner ceremony at Central as a reporter (the women's soccer team never really does anything too formal publicly). Should be fun. Looking forward to seeing the boys in person. I think there's a clear 6 or 7 man rotation already, with plenty of time to find a couple of more guys to steal some minutes.

History in the making tonight, as Tristan begins what will be a year-long assault on the CCSU record book. He'll likely pass Justin Chiera tonight, and could, with a good game, catch some guy named Dickenman.

What people don't know about him, however, or at least don't talk about as much, is his distribution. He's already in the top 5 in school history in assists, and moving up fast.

Joe looked assertive the other night, I'm interested to see what he does tonight, as well as my current favorite Shemik. Also can't wait to see Marcus Palmer.

The Danes are huge, but Central is fast and (I think) deeper than last year. It will be an interesting clash of styles.

Good effort by the women, who managed to live at the foul line. If nothing else is working, get yourself extra chances by being aggressive. This is going to take some time, but Beryl will get them going eventually. If tonight is any indication, the Blue Devils are playing hard.

Final thoughts on the weekend

Good things coming out of the Princeton loss.... terrific first half, then a great comeback when things were bleak late. That game could have gotten out of hand, and Central ended up having a shot to tie or win instead.

I hope I'm right about Shemik, I think he has a chance to be good quickly. Not Tristan-good, but useful. They have some good frontcourt guys too... if only they had one big boy.

Finally, to finish my thought from earlier... I've had more than one coach tell me the two years or more bit, and I buy it. I wasn't saying that Central isn't or shouldn't be working on a passing game. In fact, I was saying just the opposite.

For the record, yes I would like to see Central get more diverse on offense. My point was simply that you can't just run a few passes late in a blowout and expect that the few extra plays will improve your passing offense in time for the Albany game.

It takes a couple of years to truly install an offense and rep after rep to be able to break it out in a game. That was the only thing I was trying to clear up for people, and it's this: Whether or not CCSU passed down 34-7 on Saturday, or a few more in (insert game here) would have very little impact on this game this week. It's too late for that. The Blue Devils, and every team for that matter, are who they are at this point in the season.

Now, with that said, CCSU fans have two choices going into Saturday. They can whine about what their team isn't and take a negative attitude into the NEC title game, or they can get geared up for the biggest game of the year.

Central has never won the NEC on its home field. Remember the discussion we had not long ago about media coverage and general buzz? This is your chance. Make this the biggest game of the week. Sell your building out, go crazy and help guide your team to the title and the postseason.

Yes, there are issues to be addressed about the program's future. But they won't be fixed this week. Live for the moment, you're about to witness a special one.

Very quick on football

Because it was such a non-game on every level, I won't talk too much about it. I'll just say this to some of my friends over on our favorite CCSU message board.

It literally takes thousands of reps to master a particular play, ask any big-time coach. You can't work on something the week before a big game and expect to be able to use it the next week. Football at any kind of advanced level just doesn't work that way. If you wanted CCSU to pass a lot against Albany, the prep work for that would have had to start literally 2-3 years ago, not last week.

This isn't Madden where you can work on a play for a couple of hours and get the hang of it.

Good job girls

I think we got a little greedy with the women's soccer team.... actually more so spoiled. They can't win every year, and being the 2-seed in the conference tournament in a year where they made some national powers work for wins.

This was a good group of kids who worked as hard off the field as on it. I'll never forget two years ago, when I saw two players hustle down to the field before a big game with their bags, whip them off and get into uniform just in time to play. They had come from class, which is always first and foremost at Central.

"We'd be hypocritical if we said, now you can miss class," CCSU coach Mick D'Arcy told me before the Devils left for the tourney . "If we have a game at 3 p.m. and they have a class at 1, they go to class from 1-2. They're supposed to go dressed in their gear and come right down. We try not to change anything now that we've been doing all year."

They didn't, and it's a commendable thing. Next week I'll be writing about all their academic awards. They are what student-athletes are all about.

First of 3 today

Catching up after a much-needed weekend of rest.

The men look really good right now. As I mentioned earlier, Shemik was one of the most intriguing of the newcomers. I like him. I worry about Tristan having to be point and a scorer, so if he and Joe can take the heat off of him, they'll be in good shape.

Don't go crazy yet, though, Princeton's going to make some shots before we're done here.

Thoughts on the weekend

Just thought I'd give you some thoughts on this weekend's fun.

We'll start with the big one, the women's soccer team in the NEC tournament. Central didn't play well Sunday at Sacred Heart, but didn't know the significance of the game at the time. You could make the argument that every team should be up for every game, but I have a feeling that if the Blue Devils knew that Monmouth was going to lose, it would have been a different story.
They also rested some people in that game, which was played on the old turf field there as opposed to the grass at Monmouth.
In case you didn't notice, I'm saying that the rematch on Friday afternoon will be different. Soccer's a funny game, and the team that deserves a W doesn't always get it (ask Monmouth about Sunday), but expect the real Blue Devils to show up. If they do, a spot in the NEC title game will await on Sunday.

Volleyball has its final two home matches of the year this week. They'll also have a high seed in the upcoming NEC dance, which is next weekend, along with men's soccer. I'll have much more on them next week.

This week has been about the basketball previews, which are done and ready to run. The women will be in Friday's paper, and the men on Saturday.

I'll save my thoughts until after they run (can't spoil all the fun), then I'll delve deeper into those two teams.

Football is really on the backburner this week, but it'll be in the forefront next week for the NEC title game.

Catching up

I've been a bad boy being off the blog for a couple of days, but rest assured it's not because I was taking it easy. I've been working on your basketball previews, which are bigger than we've ever done before, so they've taken a lot of effort.

First off, the soccer teams. What a great job by the men. Perhaps what the NEC did was the best thing to ever happen to the Blue Devils. It clearly inspired them. Whatever got them there, they deserve tons of credit for not laying down when they appeared done earlier this year.

The women lost a game that could have paid big dividends on Sunday, but don't appear down. I talked to Mick D'Arcy today (and I'll do more tomorrow to get ready for the NEC preview) and the Blue Devils seem focused and just fine about going to Monmouth. It will be tough, but they can definitely win two games there.

I'll have plenty on the football team next week, just a brief Gameday this week. The Blue Devils have to be ready to Saturday, they certainly don't want to head to Albany on a down note, but this is a house money kind of day.

This is the best time of year, with tourneys going on and hoops getting ready to go. I'll try and blog as much as I can, but make sure to check the paper this week, you'll see me (and your Devils) all over the place.

Final thoughts

Well, maybe these Blue Devils are like the Colts after all.
Ok, not quite, but a very nice effort in the second half. I figured the game was over after the fake (which CCSU is now 4-for-4 on in Coach Mac's tenure), but it was a solid finish by the starters.
The reserves have tons of work to do, obviously, but they're very young and will get valuable experience from games likes this. Still, it would be nice if Central didn't let these teams get close, but a win is a win.
I'd never disrespect the work the players and coaches put in every week by calling next week meaningless, but the main concern against Stony Brook will be making sure the Devils don't suffer any injuries.

One aside. I should have written this by now, but I haven't yet, so let me make up for it now. I've been impressed with the way the Blue Devils have presented themselves this season. Guys like Jo Jo Freeman, Ryan Holmes and Ernie Greywacz have answered every question, even the tough ones, with class, respect, and intelligence.

They've been a pleasure to work with this season, win or lose. They're never rushing to get away, no question is too stupid (or can be asked too many times), and no weird circumstance (a broken tape and a sudden case of the stutters come to mind for me) has caused them any outward annoyance.
They're truly a group you guys should be proud to root for.

Halftime hits

Well, good and bad for the Blue Devils so far. They're moving the ball and forcing turnovers, but those turnovers are masking the fact that the Pioneers did a decent job moving the ball in the first half.
We all called the fake field goal up here in the booth, but it was a great bit of execution by Central. Keep this going for one more half, get the job done and get ready for next week's tuneup for the big one in two weeks.


Quinnipiac just tied their match with SFNY, so Central needs only to win on Sunday (2 p.m. at home) to make the NEC tournament.

Friday fun

Gameday's done and ready for you guys to read in the morning before you head to the game. They're expecting a big crowd.... they've moved bleachers (I believe from the old softball field) over to behind the end zone by the road, so there's some more room.
Speaking of fans, your Blue Devils need you this weekend. First off, the football team has a gut-check Saturday, and can use a full house. There will be a time, especially early, when the team will need the crowd behind it as it looks to save its season.

Another team that needs some love is the men's soccer team. Senior day is Sunday, and the Blue Devils are playing for their playoff lives. After they were jobbed of two points in a NEC conference room against FDU then suffered a pair of tough losses, the Blue Devils needed to win their last five games just to have a chance at the playoffs.
Well, they've won four, and have one to go on Sunday. They win and get a Quinnipiac loss or tie in its next two games (the Bobcats were winning at last check before I wrote this), and they're in. This is a team that had every excuse to lay down, and instead is playing for a shot at the playoffs. They deserve all kinds of respect for what they've done, no matter what happens.

Hoops thoughts

O.k., you guys kept hounding me, so I figured I'd finally chime in on hoops. I've started my work for the preview, in fact it's almost ready to be written. We'll have tons of good stuff in the paper, so make sure you pick that up. I'll let you know when it's going to run.

Some early observations from talking to coach Dickenman and seeing the team practice. First off, Tristan Blackwood is a machine. Gosh that kid is the real deal. Nicest kid you're ever going to meet, too. He'll likely be at the point. I have a feeling he'll be an Iverson-type point, though. If possible, his shot looks even better this year.

Dannie will be back, and I think he'll be more confident this year. He'll never be a big scorer, but he'll be a very good defender and able to help out for good stretches at a time.

I talked to Joe the other day, and he seems much more comfortable. I think he's ready to take on more responsibility.

The newcomers are intriguing. Coach is right, Ken Horton looks like a young Donyell. Now, obviously he has leaps and bounds to go to even be close to that level as a player, but in terms of the way he carries himself, it's a scary resemblance.

There's a few guys banged up right now, but I like their potential. There are some big bodies, and certainly more depth than last year. I'm not saying there's the same quality yet, but the quantity is better. If some of them pan out (and a couple show some serious offensive potential) this team has a chance to be better than we think.
There are a couple of potential rebounders, a couple of people to play point, and some potential scorers. If any of the new guys can contribute right away, CCSU will be in good shape.

The key will be defense. The Blue Devils need to find five guys to stop the other team at key times. If that happens, this year could be far from lost.

We'll have plenty more before the season, just wanted to give you a quick progress report. The main thing to take from this blurb is that Coach may have some options, especially by the time NEC play rolls around.