Oh deer

Ok, you have two reminders and the longest post of the year below that I would love for you to read, but since I was just talking about this with a friend I wanted to tell you.
Remember when we first started on this blogging journey together and I said I'd try and tell you an occasional story form the road trips? Many of them I end up unable to tell for various reasons (no, nothing illegal or sordid happens,), but these are the kinds of little memories I'll take with me someday from my first beat. Someday I'll have to redact some names and write one heck of a book.
We're coming back tonight (me and the people I rode with, I wasn't with the team), get around a curve and a deer has taken up residence on 91. Not has run across the road, but has just decided that's where he's going to stay.
So we swerve out of the way (thank God the road was empty) and even as we pass right by, the darn deer never moves. We miss him, but he wasn't even bothered to move. I think I'm more shocked by that than I was scared.
So if you're reading this Bambi, thanks for nothing.
For now, good night my blogging buddies. Let me know your live chat thoughts, send me emails, and read the Providence wrap. Some good stuff in there, at least I hope so. I still need names for some of the recurring features, so send me those as well.

2 quick things

First off, see my Providence wrap up below please, it's by far the most I've had to say after a game. Hopefully it's interesting.

But I wanted to tell you two things. First, Brad Carroll and I are talking about doing another of the live chats. Let me know when you all think is a good time and we'll see what we can do. He's all for running it, which we can do on his site, and I'm always up for debate with my people.

Second, there's some football questions left in my email (mstraubblog@hotmail.com) that I promise to get to this week. Been running around a bit.

Providence wrapup

First off, my apologies for not updating more throughout the game. For a nice a job as they've done refurbishing the inside of the DD Center, the guts of the place are much less pretty. Long story short, there were a handful of reporters trying to get internet after the game, never mind during it.
Hope the updates I did on my phone worked. It wouldn't let me type in this body box, so I tried to put a couple of things in the subject lines.
Secondly, I talked to Javier Mojica and Jemino Sobers tonight. Both are doing well. Jemino is coaching is Toronto.
Anyway, let's get to the business at hand. For 23:05, Central looked like a team that could win games in the Big East. The Blue Devils were patient but ran when the chance was there. They held their own on the boards and didn't get discouraged when a couple of shots were blocked early. Nor did they sulk when down 13-2. Instead, the came back to take a 9-0 lead later in the half. They drove the ball without fear, moved the ball without indecision and often shot the ball without a defender nearby. And they did it all without Joe Efese.
It actually looked like Central was going to win going away after it took a 29-20 lead late in the half. Even when Shemik Thompson went out with his second foul at the 4:11 mark of the half, Central survived, going to the break down just one.
Still, and this is gonna sound crazy because of what happened next, but I think that 4:11 was huge. If Central goes to the break up five (what they were up when Thompson sat down), the whole momentum of the game is different. Maybe Central still gets crushed, but I'm not convinced. The Devils were deflated by the way the half ended, and it carried over.
That said, what happened next seemed almost mathematically impossible. After turnovers on its first two possessions, Central still managed to take the lead. And the game was tied with 16:55 to go in regulation.
The numbers that followed are downright amazing. 34-6. 45-14. There was a 16-0 run in what seemed to be about 3 minutes. Just amazing stuff. And for the first time all year, it seemed like the Blue Devils quit. It got to the point where, with about eight minutes left, Howie Dickenman pulled his team because he wanted players who would "play hard."
That added to the tally, since some bench players who probably weren't ready for that level of opponent saw extended minutes. I'm not saying Central was going to come back from 30 down, but there's no way that game should have been 35.
With all that said, and since there are lot of them tonight, and despite the fact that Central was best in the 1-3-1 zone tonight, let's go man-to-man.

Markeys Deans: Was active in the paint, wanted the ball on the block. Struggled with his shot a bit, but more importantly, was involved in those awful eight minutes in which the Devils were destroyed.

Ken Horton: Willing to take shots, tried to get the ball inside and at least get to the line, made some good passes early, and he had a block. But he disappeared when he was needed to try and stem the tide. He had just two points in the second half, and, well, 34-6 happened in part on his watch.

Shemik Thompson: I actually didn't find as much fault in his game as others did. He had six assists to one turnover and added two steals. Yes he struggled on defense in the second half, but so did everyone. Where I'd fault him is this: As the emotional leader he seems to be, it's his job to prevent letdowns like that. I was looking for an Antoine Walker type speech. Just not the wiggle.

De'Angelo Speech: He was fantastic filling in for Efese in the first half, but had four turnovers and no rebounds after the break. I haven't pinned the player I'd compare him to yet, but I like something about Speech. He might kind of fall into that Shane Battier type role. He just is always involved somehow. I don't know that he's ever a great player, but he'll grow into a guy you want on the floor all the time eventually.

Robby Ptacek: At the end of the day a shooter has to make shots, and Ptacek didn't tonight. But there were positives. He was MUCH better even without a good shooting night. Was aggressive, and had a couple of good pump fakes that led to drives. But...... in fact, let's just do this so I don't have to type it. Just imagine that everything I say from here on out ends with "But the last 16:55," or "but the last eight minutes" depending on the player.

Vince Rosario: Had three turnovers, which hurt and were a shame because this was the kind of game Rosario could have been great in, a real shooting contest.

Devan Bailey: This game wasn't the right tempo for Bailey, though he led the second unit in garbage time as "the experienced one." For as long as we've talked about the likes of Thompson and Horton, it's hard not to forget how many young guys this team has.

Chris Baskerville: The good news is he's healthy again. He got a few rebounds and some shots up. But he missed FOUR STRAIGHT free throws. Still, if he can give Central some depth up front, that could be key come the winter.

Terrell Allen: Shot the ball well (3-for-4) had had 3 boards in 14 minutes, but had three turnovers. Another player I think will eventually help, but for now he's probably more effective in short bursts.

Justin Alexander: Welcome to the big-time, kid. He showed glimpses, getting three rebounds, throwing himself into the fire and running well. But goodness gracious, his shot needs some work. Every time I talk to one of the coaches they tell me how hard he works and how much they think of him personally, and they seem convinced he's going to turn into a player. We shall see.

That's all for now folks, I need some sleep very badly. As always, send me questions to mstraubblog@hotmail.com

Robby redo

I should have mentioned in my breakdown of Robby Ptacek's game last night that Howie Dickenman said he has been missing practice with a broken toe. He played, however, so the rule of "if you play you're ok" tends to apply. Still, I'll give him a break. We'll see if he can go Monday, or if part of the reason for his absence was his foot.

Monmouth wrap up

Well, for as hard as I was on both teams during the game, if you're a member of Blue Devil nation you're happy to be 1-0 in the league today, and you're pointing out that the NEC has done reasonably well in OOC games so far. Next time I get a chance I'm going to take a look at the league as a whole, but for tonight, let's just worry about the team I cover and you follow.
Any game vs. Monmouth is going to be ugly, it's just the way they play. But give Central a ton of credit for fighting through it, particularly after blowing the lead. The Blue Devils didn't put their heads down, instead they charged back and found a way to win, which is especially impressive on a day when Ken Horton couldn't tip the ball in off the rim.
Let's go man-to-man.

Markeys Deans: Terriffic late. He hit the biggest shot of the game, went 4-for-5 at the line had three blocks and seven boards. He turned it over too much and probably tried to dribble too much at various points, but a very solid game overall.

Shemik Thompson: He's like Andy Pettitte, the numbers on the surface can look ugly at times, but all you can remember is the big situations in which he comes up huge. The eight turnovers today were ugly, but he played almost every minute, made some big free throws (and got to the line 8 times, too) and had a steal. He's not pretty for all 40 minutes, but in the last minute there are few players in the NEC you'd rather have with the ball.

Joe Efese: If he wasn't officially back before, he is now. No one in white was better at getting into the middle of the Monmouth zone early, and his game was well-rounded. He scored, rebounded, blocked shots and hit the game's biggest free throw. Very good performance, and did it all while battling a groin injury he first suffered against Army. He said he expected to be fine for Providence, however.

Ken Horton: Played every minute and found ways to contribute on a night where he couldn't finish tip ins, never mind make shots. That shows the type of leadership you need from your best player. He didn't force shots and he didn't get down. He found ways to chip in, especially with his defense and rebounding.

Robby Ptacek: We've said similar things about Ptacek in this space in the past, but it wasn't true today. He never got going in any phase of the game, and Howie Dickenman went in other directions when it appeared obvious that he just didn't have it.

Vince Rosario: Dickenman called him a hired gun after the game, and his role was never more pronounced than it was today. He came in, made a pair of huge shots, then sat down. Quality over quantity. His three in response to Jordan's with just under a minute left was the most underrated play of the game. It must be incredibly tough to come in and be asked to contribute so quickly.

De'Angelo Speech: We'll chalk this up to rust after missing the last three games due to a suspension. As always he did a little bit of everything, but more of those things than usual were negatives this time. Still, for a freshman in his first league game, it's hard to expect much more.

Devan Bailey: The minutes eater. Didn't make a shot, but did some nice things and never hurt Central in 23 minutes. Five rebounds, only one turnover, which he made up for with a steal. There was a time when he and Efese were trading good games and a starting spot. Now they're both playing well. Great sign.

Terrell Allen: Grabbed a couple of boards in six minutes. He probably didn't experience too many defensive struggles like this in high school or AAU ball, so it was good for him to get his feet wet.

And that's a wrap on the NEC opener. The Devils are 1-0 in the league. It doesn't matter how they got there. If I don't talk to you before, I'll check in from Providence.

That should do it

Markeys Deans hits a leaner in the lane with 27.2 seconds left, 54-50 Central, and the Devils will hang on.
I'll check in later tonight with a full recap.


Ok so Davis hit a three for Monmouth with 1:11 left to put the Hawks up four. But Vince Rosario hit a three on the next trip, and Joe Efese hit one of two at the line with 5.4 left to send it to OT tied at 45.
Efese's 3-point play opened OT and Thompson later made 2 to put Central up 50-46 with 3:47 left.

Not good

Central has 3 points in the last 10 minutes or so and now trails 42-40 with 1:38 left.
This would be an awful, awful loss.

Almost done

less than six minutes left, 38-32 Central. CC just committed its 20th turnover, and a Blue Devil pass just hit a girl in the front row. Central and Monmouth is always ugly, but if the Devils win no one will care.

Grinding away

Sorry I was away for a bit, it's crazy down here today. Central up 38-32 with just under eight minutes left. There's a lid over the CCSU basket, but they're getting multiple chances inside, that's all you can ask for.


Thankfully, because it means we get to not watch the teams try and play offense against these defenses for a minute.
They combined to go 14-for-44 from the field and 3-16 from three in the half.
Central had 10 turnovers against the Monmouth zone, but held a good rebounding edge, 21-15.
Joe Efese had 9 for Central, while Ken Horton had 6 points and 5 boards to go with 3 blocks.
Central leads 24-20 at the break.

Hanging on to the lead

3:55 to go in the half, Joe Efese's 9 points leads CC, which has a 17-11 lead despite nine turnovers and 5-for-15 shooting.

Pulling away, for now at least

Joe Efese scores 5 straight Central points and Markeys Deans gets a dunk on a break from Shemik Thompson as Central builds a 14-6 lead past the halfway mark of the half.
It's still ugly, just not AS ugly.

Ugly start

It must be Central and Monmouth.
The Devils started 0-for-4 from the field and had 3 turnovers in the first 4:11, but trailed just 3-2.
Horton just stuck a 3 from the left wing, and Central had a 7-4 lead roughly seven minutes in. More in a bit.

Getting ready to tip

It's the usual lineup for the Blue Devils: Shemik Thompson and Robby Ptacek in back of Markeys Deans, Joe Efese (back in the starting lineup) and Ken Horton.
Devils in the home white, same unis (they'll get new ones next year most likely, details on that in a bit), Monmouth in the regular road blue, I believe same as last year's as well.

I didn't forget about you my blogging buddies

Saying hi after a long holiday weekend. Hope you and yours had a wonderful holiday. Will check in from the game Saturday when/if I can.
We'll do our usual postgame stuff here, probably later at night.

Penn St. wrap

Well, I think all told, the score was pretty representative of the game. I think Central deserved better than the 27-point gap it once faced, but I think Penn St.'s 2nd half start was worthy of a double-digit win.
Central MUST figure out its zone defense, it was ugly for a stretch. Penn St. moved the ball perfectly, getting to the middle of it, which allows you to force the zone to shift and usually opens up a man. The Blue Devils will have to do a better job of denying that first move to the middle, whether it's a drive or a quick pass to the foul line.
If the Blue Devils can avoid foul trouble and make some outside shots the next time they play one of these games, they'll be in better shape. They certainly showed they can score the ball, especially in transition, against a BCS school.
I'd have loved to have seen Howie Dickenman call a time out when the score was still salvageable, but I don't think it would have mattered.
Btw, if you read this tonight, Chaminade is tied with Michigan State at half. Anything can happen in this great sport, so don't count Central out in some of these bigger games later in the year or, potentially, in March.

With that said, it's time to go man-to-man. (I really need Bill Raftery to do a voice over for me for this). Bill, if you're out there, help a young guy out!

Markeys Deans: Probably the best player on the floor for Central. Did a little bit of everything, and can score inside and out. If he can find a way to stay out of foul trouble against bigger men, Central will be fine. Wasn't great defensively in the second half, but no one was.

Ken Horton: Couldn't get his 3-point shot going, and couldn't figure out a way to escape the swarm of bigs that attacked him when he went inside. Moved the ball well (three assists) and was solid on defense (3 blocks), but Central will never win one of these "play up" games if Horton can't score. If he's not going to be effective inside, he must make jumpers. He did neither tonight.

Shemik Thompson: He scored (18 points) he distributed (six assists) he rebounded (seven) and he defended (three steals). If he'd made another outside shot or two and got to the line a bit more, it would have been an incredible night.

Robby Ptacek: Turned it over a couple too many times, but he was aggressive, which is nice to see. Didn't shoot the ball well, but tried to drive it a few times and had a couple of steals. Him making some outside shots, especially open ones, is a key to winning one of the three big non-conference games left on the schedule.

Vince Rosario: Filled in reasonably well in that he didn't turn it over, but couldn't make a shot. If he's going to take over that Vinny "Microwave" Johnson role (man I'm old) he has to come in and make some shots early. He seems to feed off his own momentum, and it seems like 2 makes can lead to five. On the other side of that coin, however, one miss can lead to three.

Joe Efese: Welcome back, Joe. Solid offensively and had a block. Now must work on his interior game, both rebounding and defense. But after a horrid start to the year, great for Devils fans to see him going again.

Chris Baskerville: The good news is he's back in the lineup. We'll see if he can help provide some depth up front.

Terrell Allen: His usual come in, play hard for a few minutes, cause some havoc and sit down routine. Interesting to see how that role works once De'Angelo Speech comes back for the Monmouth game.

Justin Alexander: Nice to see him get to see the floor. Someday, everyone associated with the Devils thinks, he'll be a player.

Hoping to keep getting comments on this feature. I have been, so we'll keep doing it. Please keep it up. I'm having a blast writing about a fun team here, so I hope you're enjoying all of this stuff, too.

Send me some questions at mstraubblog@hotmail.com. With no more football to write about, I need some new topics. Your questions will be good fodder.

Signing off for now

Central is making it respectable again, finding Deans and getting him going again. Unfortunately for Central, it's too late.
I'm going to finish up my writing, then I'll be back with the wrap up stuff we've been doing on here that I hope you're enjoying.

It got worse

The Nittany Lions made their first 11 shots of the second half to turn this one into a laugher. Ken Horton is getting pushed to the perimeter by bigger players and Central can't stop PSU from making sharp passes to get the ball inside.
It's 67-42 with just over 8 minutes left in the game.

Forget boxing out

There hasn't been a rebound to get after the break. PSU started the second half 8-for-8, just carving Central's zone defense with ease. Jeff Brooks had an impressive spin move to get an easy basket, and it's 56-31 with under 15 left in the half.
I think Howie Dickenman waited way too long to call a timeout in the half, but I'm not sure it would have mattered the way this is going.

At the half

Taran Buie, who is actually Talor Battle's half brother, took over the game late in the half. scoring nine points in the final 4:37 of the half as the Lions took a 38-26 lead to the break with a 15-6 run to end the half.
Howie Dickenman went away from the "Calhoun rule" and put Ken Horton back in with 2 fouls and Central got right back in the offensive flow. We'll see if the Devils can make an early run with Deans and Horton back on the floor to start the 2nd half. But they MUST rebound, and MUST make Penn St. miss some shots, or it won't matter.

Battle of attrition

Foul trouble has Central thin up front, and it's starting to take affect. The Devils now trial 30-21, playing without both Markeys Deans and Ken Horton with 2 each.
The Blue Devils have missed 5 of their last 6 shots as well. 30-21, under 4 to go in the half.

Yeah, I should have mentioned

Ken Horton picked up his second foul with just under 8 minutes left in the half. Terrell Allen in up front with Efese.

Good news and bad

Markeys Deans will likely sit the rest of the half after getting his 2nd foul of the half, but Central keeps running its way to points.
PSU is just 8-for-21 from the floor, while Central is 7-for-16. The Nittany Lions have missed their last 5 3-point tries, and Central has to do a better job of defending that shot.
Also, 6 early turnovers are hurting the Blue Devils.
The rebounds are just about even, a feat against a bigger team, but Central has given up 4 offensive boards for 6 points.
It will be key for Joe Efese to play well for Deans the rest of the half.
7:33 left in the half and he's at the line. He makes 1 and it's 20-18 Penn St.

Hanging right in

By the way, if you're on Comcast this game is on 270 if you have HD. Not sure about Cox.
Anyway, we're at the second TV timeout and Central looks much better. When the Blue Devils can rebound and run they can score almost at will. They got some good shots early in the half court and couldn't hit, or they'd be ahead right now.
Penn St. clearly wants to keep this thing slow, which might actually help the short-handed Devils in terms of staying fresh.
18-15 PSU, 10:05 let in the half.

Well that's better

After Penn St. started on a 9-0 run (I use that term loosely since it took more than 4 minutes), Central finally got its break going. Shemik Thompson hit a 13-footer as the trailer on a feed from Ken Horton on a 3-on-1, and Markeys Deans just scored on a semi-break and will go to the line after the first TV timeout of the night.
It's 9-4 with the free throw pending for Deans. Central has really struggled with its shot early (started 0-for-4) but is getting open shots, a great sign.
FT good, but Brooks hits a 3 right back, it's 12-5.

Getting ready to watch the game

Will have thoughts throughout and a story afterwords, as well as our usual blogging stuff.
Box out and this could be interesting for Central. Don't and it won't be.
Devan in for Efese again.

It's official

I've mentioned that this was likely coming for some time, but it's now official. URI joins the NEC for football starting in 2013.

"We are thrilled to welcome the University of Rhode Island to the Northeast Conference football family,” Noreen Morris, NEC Commissioner, said in a statement. “The Conference is united in its commitment to the long term growth of NEC football. As such, the NEC has made great strides in recent years, leading to our first appearance in the NCAA FCS playoffs. The addition of URI further strengthens the league and begins an exciting new chapter in the NEC’s development.”

Rhode Island will begin competing in the NEC in the 2013 season. The Rams will remain an associate football member of the Colonial Athletic Association in 2011 and 2012.

Hoops wrap for Saturday night

First off, congratulations to Shemik Thompson on becoming the 32nd player in CCSU history to reach the 1,000-point plateau.
It certainly is a different year than 2009-2010 and I don't just mean in terms of wins and losses. The Blue Devils couldn't throw the ball in the ocean from the deck of a boat last year, but have now scored 80 or more in back-to-back games for the first time since the 07-08 season.
Central has now won 23 in a row when scoring 80 or more, but the number seemed unattainable for a while. With this more uptempo pace they've been on of late, however, the Blue Devils might be able to put up bigger numbers more consistently. Part of it is pace, but part of it is having Ken Horton back. He's freeing up other guys to play less pressure-packed games. Oh, and he's good. Let's not forget that.
The other interesting thing is the wild mood swings these games are taking. Central has trailed in all three games by 10 or more in the first half. Against Hartford, it chipped away. Against Army and again last night (or at least long ago tonight as I type this), the Blue Devils simply exploded. Saturday night it was a 32-10 run over the final 10 minutes of the first half that turned an 11-point hole to an 11-point halftime lead. This coming off a 50-point half vs. Army.
As in the Army game, Central slowed down after the break. UMBC cut the lead to 3 midway through the second half, but Central was able to slowly build the lead back up.
I put a Blue Devil breakdown in the paper. Going to try to get a preview for the PSU game in the paper Sunday for Monday.

But for now, let's do our new feature sweeping the blogosphere. Let's go man-to-man. Coach Howie Dickenman only went with 8 tonight (De'Angelo Speech is out until the Monmouth game), so it won't take long.

Shemik Thompson: Not a great shooting night, but was 5-of-10 with 13 points in the second half as Central fought to hang on. Another example of his grit. Plus, on a night where he gets to 1,000, we can't say anything bad here.

Markeys Deans: I asked you guys to be patient with him, and Deans made me look smart. Didn't shoot too much, but scored quite a bit. 10 boards, 5 offensive.

Ken Horton: Ho hum, Yawn. 24 and 11 with 2 blocks. Don't allow yourself to get spoiled. This kid is special in the NEC. Now let's see what he can do against the big boys.

Robby Ptacek: I guess the slump is over. 6-of-10 is great, though I wonder when the last time he went 1-for-3 at the line was. No turnovers. Impressive night.

Devan Bailey: Got his first start of the year tonight and, well, he certainly wasn't boring. Scoring? Good. 2-for-3, hit a 3. Defense? 3 blocks is great but 5 fouls isn't. 3 turnovers in 28 minutes as well. I wouldn't be sure if it was a good enough night to get another start except....

Joe Efese: 5 minutes, a rebound and a turnover. Icky. Too soon to see if this is a sophomore slump, some early struggles, some sort of injury or just a lack of comfort with the new lineup, but it hasn't been a good start for Efese. Clearly he wasn't able to continue the momentum from last year. Now we'll see if he can make new momentum.

Vince Rosario: Hit a couple of gree throws late and is starting to figure out how to contribute when his shot isn't falling. No turnovers in 24 minutes, and he got a steal and four rebounds. His success comes when he's making threes, but this wasn't a bad night when he wasn't.

Terrell Allen: Got a quick foul, only saw three minutes.

Overall: Not the depth you want to see, but but the main men played very well. This game is not unwinnable Monday, but it will take a GREAT effort. We'll see what happens.

Wrapping up football

After a long night in the office, I'm back to break down the night.
We'll do a couple of football thoughts here, then I'll make a separate post for hoops.
Not much to say about the game itself today. Central did what it had to against a badly overmatched team. The defense looked its best of the year bar none, but the competition was such that I'm not sure it mattered much.
What did matter to the players is that they have won the NEC, or at least a share of it. And the really good news? Gunnar Jespersen is back to lead the offense next year.
There will be expectations, and with them, pressure. The Blue Devils will have 25 seniors next year and return many of the big pieces from this team, so anything less than an NEC title would be considered a disappointment next year.
Check Sunday's Herald for a recap and Monday's paper for a follow up.


Devan Bailey to start for the men tonight in place of Joe Efese.
That's the only change.

Over and out

SFPA misses the 2-pt try, and trails 23-13 with 2:30 left. That should do it. I'm going to go do my postgame requirements, will try and check in later this afternoon, but will DEFINITELY check in after hoops tonight.
Final notes on the football seniors before I go: The 15 seniors get their 30th win, tied for most by a class in history, and their 17th in the last 2 years, the best 2-year run in school history. They were also part of Central's no 14-game home winning streak, third-longest in the country. That could go to 2nd, however, as Montana, currently first at 23, was losing last I checked.

Hmm, hang on for a minute

After a Central punt, SFPA marches 87 yards for a score with 2:24 left. All-important 2-pt try pending.

SFPA on the board

The best drive of the game for the Flash leads to a Dan Conley one-yard score. 23-7, less than nine minutes left.
By the way, great call by the SFPA staff to kick. Too many coaches botch the math on this. You have to go 7-8-8 down by 23. If you go for 8 first and miss, you need 3 more scores. Never go for two until you absolutely have to.
Unless you're Jeff McInerney. He goes for 2 all the time. My thoughts on that are frequently mentioned in this space.


On 4th down at SFPA's 28, Gunnar Jespersen (who looked injured two plays prior but stayed in) was hit as he threw. The ball flew nearly straight up, and was picked off.
12:43 left int he fourth, SFPA ball on its own 41. With the way the Red Flash threw the ball late in the first half, you have to be on what CCSU coach Jeff McInerney calls "Red Alert" right now.

Here we go again

45 yard long one from Gunnar to P.J. Borawski to start the 4th quarter. Central driving up 23-0.


SFPA tries to punt from inside its own 10, but the snap is high. Andrew Penksa wisely just kicked the ball out of the back of the end zone once he got it, giving Central a safety and a 23-0 lead.

I'm still here

Sorry, I was catching up on my writing here. Nothing to report so far in the third, just a trade of punts. Central now seems content to run some clock, which should help move this thing along immensly. Central has it near midfield, five minutes left in the third.

That's a wrap

On the half at least.
Josue Paul catches one for about 50 yards, but is called for offensive pass interference with 2 seconds left in the half. CC takes a knee after that, and takes a knee to get to the break up 21-0.

Not so fast Red Flash

New Britain's Chris Linares breaks up a 4th down pass (SFPA badly wanted a pass interference call but didn't get it) to kill the drive with less than a minute left in the half. Still 21-0.

A surprise

It turns out Central has a punter! If this was your first CCSU game, you wouldn't know it.
Even bigger news? SFPA just gained 3 first downs in 3 plays! They're driving by throwing the ball, too. Not even the running game!

How about this math?

Kevin Woolfolk's short TD run, followed by Joe Izzo's XP being blocked gives Central the wildest 21-0 lead ever. To review, the Devils have a field goal and three TDs, but had 2 XP's blocked and failed on a a 2-pt try.
Oh, and SFPA then went 3-and-out. But they gained 3 yards this time, bringing their totals to 20 plays, 7 yards.

Here we go again

I feel like I should just tell you when the Red Flash DON'T go 3-and-out.
Through 20 minutes of action, they have run 17 plays and have four total yards. 4. They're averaging a little less than a yard every four plays.
In other words, going by their average yards per play, if they started possessions with a 1st and 1 instead of a 1st and 10, they still wouldn't make a first down.

And again

The Flash stop Central 3 times inside the SFPA 5. Joe Izzo kicks from 28 and hits.
14:18 to go in the half, 15-0 CC.

A stop for the Flash

But not before Central gets downright disrespectful. The Blue Devils went for it on 4th down and long just over midfield, going deep but coming up short.
SFPA takes over near midfield, but continues to be unable to move the ball AT ALL.
Just under 3 minutes left in the first 12-0 Central and it's about to take over the ball. SFPA got this punt away at least.

This is ugly

Rush's 2nd blocked kick of the day gives Central the ball near midfield. This one was a punt.
SFPA has run 11 plays and has 3 yards.

Long ball!

As I wrote that, Gunnar hit Paul again for a 49-yard strike.
2 plays later, Jespersen scores his 2nd of the day, a 1-yard dive, and Central's fake XP fails. 7:00 exactly left in the first, and it's 12-0.

right back at it

After a stop, Central takes over and goes 13 yards on the first play, Gunnar to Josue Paul. CC ball at the 50.

Capitalizing on the situation

Central's Gunnar Jespersen caps a 7-play, 51-yard drive with a 21-yard touchdown run. SFPA nearly ran a blocked XP back for 2, but Central finally got the stop. 11:09 to go. 6-0.

Good start

Loud crowd today sees Central start with a bang. The Devils force SFPA to a 3-and-out, then block a punt (partially by Alondre Rush).
Central ball at its own 49.

Time to blog the game

Looks like we're going to start this one late since the Senior Day ceremony ran long.
A cold but gorgeous late-fall day.
Back in a few when this thing starts. SFPA not even on the field yet.

A couple of notes

Wanted to check in now, since I won't be near my cpu Friday. Will be blogging as always from the football game Saturday.
Should be an interview I did with Howie Dickenman on the Herald's web site Friday night, check it out for his thoughts on the upcoming road games.

Talked to Jeff McInerney, who reports no injuries of note heading into the final football game of the year.
The Devils are motivated by this co-championship thing, so I think they will play hard on Senior Day. Expect a lot of points and a big win.

The men's hoops team has a big weekend. Saturday at UMBC is one of those road games that doesn't do much for them if they win, but hurts to lose. I think they get it done.
Monday is a taller order. I noticed today that Penn St. isn't a big favorite over Fairfield, so that's an interesting one to watch. If the Stags play well at Happy Valley, maybe Central can, too. That's one of those wins that gets you a 14 or 15 come March.
I think the schedule is really well done this year. There are big names that CCSU can be competitive against. Pick a couple of them off, and wow. The year gets REALLY interesting.
Of course, I'm getting WAY ahead of things. I couldn't even get Howie to talk much about Monday. Saturday comes first, and that's the right approach. Really nice win to get Saturday. Win in Baltimore and play well Monday and it's a very good weekend.

Finally, to that commenter below: I believe I did a small piece on P.J. earlier this year, but you're right that he deserves another mention. Speaking of locals deserving mention, I hope you'll all take the time to read my piece on Jeff Marino. Not because I wrote it, but because his story is wonderful. Couldn't be a nicer kid, too.

Talk to you all Saturday.

Quick update

Checking in from the women's game, which Central leads by eight early.
Want to give you a rundown on the next couple of days. I'll have what I think is going to be a really nice feature on Jeff Marino as well as the final football preview of the season. Of course, the game coverage itself.
We'll have the men's games Saturday and Monday as well. Hoping to try something extra for Monday's game, but let me see how things are looking.

In the meantime a quick men's note: Freshman De'Angelo Speech will miss two more games after what coach Howie Dickenman called a "team issue" then return later next week. I think that's the Monmouth game, I'll have to check when I get a chance.
Dickenman didn't give specifics, but said Speech's issue "wasn't serious" and that he is expected back after the Penn St. game.

NEC Marathon thoughts

A quick summation, then I have to run an errand before the big ones this afternoon and tonight.
Would have posted this sooner, but I was watching Northeastern absolutely steal a game from SIU.

Monmouth: Love the effort, but that's about it. The Hawks can't shoot and aren't great inside despite some size. Make them shoot, hope they don't goad you into a 48-46 game and you beat them.

RMU: Looked GREAT for 30 minutes, then the offense sputtered out. Velton Jones is a player, but he occasionally forgets that Karon Abraham is on his team. I was impressed with their new bigs, I might have too quickly assumed they would be weaker there with all the graduations.
If they can figure out ways to get Abraham the ball (and have him be less cold than he was today until the end) they'll be fine. Still can't put them higher than 4th for now, but 3rd seems in reach.

Never question my dedication!

I just want you to know I'm up at 5:43 a.m. my time prepping to watch Stony Brook-Monmouth, then RMU-Kent St. Partly to see the NEC teams for my and, hopefully, your benefit, and partly because I am a sick, sick man.

Army wrap up

What a wild night!
First, a couple of nuggets. The last time Central scored 100 was that regular season final shootout with SHU a couple of years ago. This was the most points for Central since Tristan Blackwood's 40-point game against SHU during the 2006-2007 season. Central scored 103 that night. Before those two games, you had to go back to the 4OT game at Detrick vs. LaSalle.
This is the 6th time Central has scored 100 points under coach Howie Dickenman, and the Blue Devils are 5-1 in those games.
This was the 2nd most points scored by a Dickenman team in regulation, the most being 107 against LIU in the 01-02 season.

Ok, onto tonight.
Crazy, crazy game. Let's break it down.

What worked
1) He's baaaaaack: Remember earlier tonight when I wrote that someone was questioning Ken Horton? Yeah forget that. He was tremendous. Even had some blocks on a night where no one played defense.
2) Resilience: Central fought through an incredible shooting performance by the other team. Lots of times a team kind of gives up when that happens, but Central rallied. The same is true after they built a lead late and Army erased it. On the road, that might be a better sign. Central fought the home team off.
3) Plus-minus: Central only had nine turnovers, but forced 15 and blocked two shots. It adds up to a win.

What needs work
1) Defense: While Army deserves credit for making so many shots, some of them could have been defended better.
2) Dependents: Central got a little too 3-point happy, even if it did make one shy of half of them.
3) Keep going: This is a great start, but we'll know more in 2 weeks.

Matt goes man-t0-man
(we NEED a better name for this. PLEASE email me ideas).

Ken Horton: 34 and 9, 11-of-15 from the floor. Not much else to say.

Shemik Thompson: Pressed a bit early, but was fantastic as the game went on. One turnover in 40 minutes. Oh, and he played 40 minutes.

Joe Efese: Foul trouble and a lack of chances hurt him. Perhaps we forgot that he's still just 2 games past his freshman year. There will be setbacks.

Markeys Deans: The good: he was much better offensively. The bad: Foul trouble limited his minutes.

Robby Ptacek: His "ridiculous" shooting from the preseason as Howie Dickenman called it is gone, but he got rebounds and earned trips to the line. Nice to see him find ways to help when his shot is gone.

Vince Rosario: He wasn't as good as he was vs. Hartford, but his timing was impeccable. Great clutch shooting. 4 boards and 4 assists as well.

Terrell Allen: Ate minutes without hurting the team.

Devan Bailey: Likewise.

De'Angelo Speech: Didn't make the trip, no word as to why. Will see what I can find out this week.


After Army put on probably the best shooting exhibition Central will see this year, the Blue Devils scored 22 points in the final 5:02 of the half to take a 50-45 lead to the break.
Army made 7 of its first 9 triples in the game, built a double-digit lead, but the Blue Devils rallied with some great shots of their own. And a bevy of free throws. Central shot 20 free throws in the half, making 15. Ken Horton has 18 points at the break. I believe his career high is 33 at Albany 2 years ago.

So much for one theory

Army got called for 8 fouls in the first 10 minutes or so.

Checking in before the Army game

I'll have some nuggets and hopefully another breakdown player-by-player like we did the other night after the game tonight.
Wanted to give you some thoughts from my guy Matt here, quickly becoming our best basketball commenter. We'll have to have some kind of award. The "Hud trophy" or something.
Speaking of which, I haven't checked out the CCSU message boards out there in cyber space in some time, mostly for time reasons, so please email me at mstraubblog@hotmail.com and let me know what you think about various things.
Matt (yes that's his real name, and no he's not me) checked in with a few things. First, he asked why I thought turnovers would be a problem for this team.
Answer: Because it has been for some time. Perhaps they can limit it, and I think they will, but until they do it consistently, I think you have to think of it as such. Remember, just because you're experienced doesn't mean you can't make mistakes. Do I think the vets will do a better job than the other night? Yes. But I think this team will have a bit of a bug in that regard going forward. We'll see if I'm wrong.

And by the way Matt, you didn't give me credit for getting the lineup exactly right (making me 1-for-3 in basketball predictions so far this year). Give Markeys Deans a break, it was a bad game, yes, but he's a much better player than that. Two of those ugly leaners, if my memory serves, were at the end of the clock, too.
There are two other reasons I think this is the lineup that sticks: 1) Vince Rosario's skills are better served off the bench. 2) I don't think they'd be a good defensive team, especially against bigger teams, with him in the starting lineup and Robby Ptacek the de facto '3'.
Wouldn't shock me if there's a change in the starting lineup tonight as coach Howie Dickenman might want to make a statement to Deans that he has to be better than that, but I think your starting five from Saturday night is the first five for much of the year.

Matt also said he thought Ken Horton "stopped working" against Hartford. I don't agree at all. The comparison I used was to a kid sticking his toe in the pool to see how cold the water was. he was timid, yes. But he got much better as the game went on, getting 5 boards in the second half. Put that through to a whole game and that's 10 boards. If he averages 10 boards a game, CCSU Nation will be doing backflips.
His biggest weakness, I thought anyway, was his conditioning, which surprised me. He looked winded at times and his shots were flat, a sign of weak legs. I think as he continues to work into game shape things will get better for him, and the Devils.

Matt loved De'Angelo Speech's night and so did I. I thought in some ways he was their best player. Loved the energy he provided.

Remember before the year I said this could be a lot like 2007 in that the Devils might take some lumps early as they find a rotation. I don't think they'll start 2-9 like that team (I think that was the number), but don't expect perfection for some time.

Finally, a thought or two on Army, which opened the year by pulling away from Vassar in the second half. The Black Knights shot a LOT of 3's in that game, with long-range shots accounting for nearly half their attempts. They also pounded the offensive glass, something Central fell victim to at the hands of Hartford.
Unless they make a lot of them early at home, I can't see the Black Knights having an easy time with Central tonight. I expect a better night from Horton and a stronger showing on the boards. Being on the road, Central won't get as many free throws as it did Saturday, however.
It all adds up, I think, to a five-point Central win. We'll see if I can go 2-for-4.

One quick NEC note

Please read my total breakdown of the last 24 hours you'll see below, I put a lot into it and I think you'll find some informative things there.
But I wanted to pass this along before I finally get some sleep: The Mount lost by 15 to Dayton tonight, trailing by 9 at the half in what was a competitive game until the 10-minute mark. If I'm right about Central being better, this could mean that the Blue Devils could make some noise out there. Also, Penn St. only beat Lehigh by 14.
Both of those teams will be better by the time Central plays them, but who knows? I'll say this: If Central were to win one of them, even if the team they beat ends up having a bad year in its league, it would certainly be enough to keep Central out of the now 2 play in games if it were to eventually win the NEC.
But, I'm getting about 30 games ahead of myself now.
Ok, bed time. You should have plenty to digest here. Thanks as always for reading.

A wild 24 hours

Ok, now that I have time and a net connection at the same time, let's go through a crazy 24 hours of CCSU sports.

We'll start with Friday night's huge win for the women. It was an ugly game and Hartford is way, way down from where they've been, but it's still a great win for Central since a bad Hartford team is supposed to beat a good Central team.
I thought Central's defense was tremendous, and I was impressed with the poise the younger players showed. I was surprised coach Beryl Piper went with Jessica Babe over Rachel Chandler, but it worked out, as Babe hit the biggest shot of the game.
Justina Udenze was fantastic, her best all-around game in blue if you ask me. She wasn't good at the line, but made the two she needed. You also had to love the offensive rebounding of Leanne Crockett, who does everything reasonably well, making her a tough guard.
We'll see if the women can build on this momentum. If so, it could be a good year. Lose the next two and it's gone, however. That's what this team did too much of last year. Win a good one, lose a bad one.

From there I came home and wrote a follow, then (after a brief rest) went to the office to help with my desk duties before heading to Mohegan for the men's game. Therefore I didn't get to follow the football game too much. Too bad nothing happened, huh?
Gunnar Jespersen was fantastic, and Central's offense is really clicking in a way where you wonder if they won't have a huge year next year with most everyone back. The question will be, can they find a defense in the meantime?
If Central were still alive for the playoff berth (yes, I know they can win a co-championship with a win next week) I'd be crushing coach Jeff McInerney for his decision to go for 2 in double OT. But on the road, the saying goes, you play for the win. Also, well, Coach Mac is a little crazy at times.
I forget who it was who said this to me at the hoops game tonight, so I apologize for not crediting them: Mac is the FCS version of Les Miles, LSU's gambler of a coach. Mac goes for it on fourth down, goes for 2 when the book says go for 1, etc. But 90 percent of the time, it works out for him. And the win gives Central a shot at that co-title, which I know the players are excited about, so good for them. I've given you my opinion on it, so there's no need to harp.

Which gets us to the main event of the weekend, the men's basketball game. First, since I don't know how much this got discussed after the fact, but the reason the pre game show had trouble on the radio was because all of press row (at least on one side of the floor) went out for some reason. As I understand it, SHU lost the end of their broadcast, at least on radio, etc. It was a wild scene watching everyone scramble to fix it. I mention all this because I thought it was interesting, and because I was sad that my interview with Marc Robbins was only heard online. I thought we did a pretty good breakdown while filling the extra time between games. I'm trying to get the hang of radio, I hope I'm giving you guys good insight.
Since it's nearly 2 a.m., I'm going to give you some quick one sentence thoughts on some players. Maybe we'll turn this into a feature, but only if I can think of a fresh way to do it. The whole "grades" thing is played out. But a quick thought on the team. Coming from 14 down is very impressive, regardless of the opponent. Central's full court defense was very good, and the Blue Devils got to the line at will, something they did not do last year.

Shemik Thompson was brilliant. After sitting out much of the first half with 2 fouls, he did everything a senior point guard should do down the stretch. Big 3, clutch free throws. Even stepped in for Vince Rosario after the game when Rosario grew shy when asked to talk about his game. It seems like a silly point and they laughed about it, but it showed leadership.
If he is healthy and poised, it's a good year for Central.

Ken Horton was timid. I had written the word in my story before Howie Dickenman said it in his post game press conference. I likened it to a kid who puts his toe in the water at first to see how cold it is. As the game went on, Horton got more aggressive, getting 5 boards in the second half. He also went down low and earned some free throws late. I think his numbers will shoot up as he gets his legs and, more importantly, his confidence.

Robby Ptacek was missing confidence, but he can make free throws with his eyes closed. If he keeps driving and drawing fouls, he can be effective even when missing shots. But he MUST play better D.

Joe Efese: I think he had 5 blocks. A good start, but he must do more on the other end. I think he and Kenny have to feel each other out a little more. Had 5 turnovers. Not Ok.

Markeys Deans: The effort was there, but the game was not. He has to be the "x-factor" type yes, but he must also make a few shots. He forced a couple tonight he shouldn't have.

Vince Rosario: Simply, the reason CCSU is 1-0. He was aggressive and made shots, a great combination. Must work on his postgame interviews, however.

De'Angelo Speech: The box score won't show how well the freshman performed. He rebounded, played solid defense, got to the line hit a big shot and drew fouls. Not a bad start at all.

Terrell Allen: A small sample, but showed he belonged at this level.

Devan Bailey: Hit a nice jumper from the wing and missed a three. Two turnovers in 17 minutes, however. He did have three assists. So overall a positive contribution.

Overall, I'd say the offensive rebounds allowed were a big problem, as was the turnover bug. But I have a feeling those will be the 2 bug-a-boos all year. Central can defend and has some scorers. Let's see how the Devils look when they play well.

A delay

I have LOTS to say about a wild Friday night in Detrick and what will be a crazy Saturday, but internet issues and tons of work to do required me to shelve those thoughts.
I'll try and get them all in before the game Saturday, but I might have to do a weekend wrapup type post later on.
For now I'll ask you to check the women's story out in the paper and the follow story to come, and remind you that you won't find more thorough coverage of the boys in blue (though I think they'll be in white Saturday since they wore blue last year at the Connecticut 6) anywhere than you will in the Herald. Game story will be in Sunday's paper, blog posts, follows when I can and a look at the Army game as well.
Long story short, keep it locked here, on our web site and in the paper for lots of Blue Devil stuff in the next 72 hours.

Checking in

Just wanted to pass along a couple of nuggets.
1) No injuries or absences to report for Saturday's football game. Can't remember if I passed that along.
2) We'll be at the women's game tonight, so check out all our coverage.
3) In the meantime, check out the interviews Brad and I shot on our web site. And thanks to the players who bared with us while we figured it all out. I think they came out well.
4) Of course we'll be at the men's game Saturday at Mohegan Sun. Will hope to blog from both basketball games at some point. But we'll have lots of stuff. Only injury I know of is Chris Baskerville, who coach Howie Dickenman told me last week "might" be out for a week or two, which, if my math is right, could leave him out for the first two games.
Will blog about injuries ASAP from the Arena.
Ok, football preview to write, so let me run. But I'll give you the gist: We find out what kind of coach Jeff McInerney is today.

Catching up

Hope everyone enjoyed the preview section in today's paper. Well, I don't care if you enjoyed it as long as you bought one! Ha, of course I'm kidding.
Huge thanks to Brad Carroll for making me look good by laying out the whole thing in a way that looks great. Hopefully the info in it (the stuff I wrote) is good, too.
Also thanks to Anthony Della Calce for picking up some of the work for me.
Brad and I filmed a bunch of interviews for the web site today with the local hoopsters, so check that out.

One mailbag today:
I was asked for a quick rundown on the ladies. Well check out the preview!
Ok ok, for now I'll give you the 3-sentence version.
Everyone (including Gabby Oglesby) is back. Central was picked 7th by the coaches, but that's too low in my opinion. A top 4 finish is the goal for the girls, who have good forward play from Kerrianne Dugan and Leanne Crockett and Justina Udenze in the post.
The season will come down to guard play. If Alexzandria Dowdy can run the point and they find a 2-guard, it should be a good year.

TV stuff

2 additions to the schedule for TV purposes.

Feb. 9 vs. Bryant is on the TV package, meaning MSG, Cox and the Fox College sports thing.
Also, the doublheader on Feb. 26 at LIU is on the NEC package, and now starts in the morning. Boo.


to one of the Q and A's from below.
I spoke to a league source who told me the Gridiron Classic is "now defunct."
That's what I'd been told before, but since I got that question I wanted to double check for you. So no, there will be no postseason for the football team this year.
Hoops? Could be a different story.

The mailman is back

Ok, I guess that's Karl Malone, who I never liked, so I need a different nickname. We'll work on that.
In the meantime, two questions I'm going to tackle today.

JJ asks about the Gridiron Classic, and says he was hearing rumblings that it was coming back, and that the NEC's 2nd place team would go.
I can tell you that it was my understanding that the GC was dead now that the NEC had the auto bid to the FCS playoffs. I can also tell you that no one at Central has breathed a word about it, which you'd think they'd do to plug the importance of their remaining games if it were an option.
I have contacted the league, and will update you when I know something.

2 more from loyal reader Matt, who we'll have to get some kind of award as one of my most frequent questioner.

Q:The lineup you presented in your blog is one that I've been suggesting they'll use all summer long. However, I see no way they can match up defensively with NEC teams because just about every team will use a 3-guard lineup. Neither Horton, Efese or Deans can guard on the perimeter, plus it takes away our shot blocking ability if Horton has to do that. Is there any talk of going with a 2-3 zone when we go "big"? I admit I'm not a fan of the zone d when you have the type of athleticism that we appear to have, but it would allow us to go big.
Just wondering if you have a different thought or any different knowledge?

A: Central used a zone more in the last couple of years than I can ever remember prior, but I don't think they need to that often. First off, any lineup you find will be shifting frequently. Devan Bailey will play a lot, Vince Rosario will play a lot, the other bigs will see time, and Terrell Allen and Mr. Speech might try and work their way in as well.
To your point, however, Markeys Deans is a tough matchup on the other end. He'd beat up a guard and he can step back and shoot against a bigger forward. And if you put a real big guy on him, he has enough handle to get by a time or two as well. So I don't think teams would be able to go 3 guards for long stretches against him and Ken Horton. A guard would have to defend one or the other, which would go poorly for them.
Coach Howie Dickenman told me his defensive plan this year was going to be "make you do something else." In other words, take away the strength of the other team whenever possible. Some of that could come by forcing the other team into a matchup battle.
Of course, by Saturday Devan Bailey could be the starting third guard again.

2) How does Joe Efese look? In my ten years of following CCSU, I've never seen a kid improve from November-March as much as he did last year. Is he still improving every day? The idea that we can dump the ball down to him a few times a game and get some offense makes me giddy. If every player on the floor can be an offensive threat (which is VERY possible), it will stop any in-game stretches where we struggle, despite any sort of foul trouble, injuries, etc.

May I suggest reading the feature about him I've written that will likely be in our preview section? If not I'll get it out there some way. And did I mention that the CCSU preview section will appear in Wednesday's paper?
I'll say this for now: I think depth could be an issue, as I see eight consistent players and I'd like to see that number closer to 9 or 10. At the very least I'd like to see a couple of guys who you feel confident could play when called upon if the Devils do get in foul trouble or the injury bug hits again.
Secondly, shooting can go cold. I believe it's contagious, which can lead to a couple of guys having bad nights. I completely agree that Central has enough weapons to think the 50-point nights are over, but let's also not turn this team into the Suns either. I think they're going to do well, but let's not pretend this is the perfect team yet. I do agree that the offense is going to be greatly improved, however.

I'm a dodobird

Ok, so clearly I haven't been sleeping and I have too many sports, both CCSU and high school, in my head. Remember the other day when I said I was surprised to see LIU was picked third in the men's hoops poll?
Well, guess where I picked them it the summer project I did?
Yeah, you guessed it. 3rd.

And that's it

Congratulations to Robert Morris on their Northeast Conference championship. Have to give Central credit, the Blue Devils defended their title well this season, especially considering the number of new faces on offense.
Today, however, they were blasted by a better team.

Funny, I was right

If you watched the video Brad and I did for a preview for this one, I said Central's ability to stop the run would be the key.
Well, I have RMU for more than 300 yards rushing. That's the opposite of stopping the run.

Not good enough

Myles Russ is a great player so I can understand him having a big day, but Central just gave up a big run to his backup when a stop could have maybe made it interesting. Terrible job by this defense.

Quick strike

A long pass to Anthony Jubles sets up a Gunnar Jespersen score on 4th and goal. 42-24 now early 4th.
Tom just said something interesting on the radio call. Remember last year they trailed Monmouth 19-0 in the 4th and scored the last 20. The difference here is that the team they're playing is much better.
Btw, I'd have gone for 2 there. Cut it to 17 and try and MAYBE, just maybe, bring that FG back into play eventually.

No, THAT should do it

Joe Walton makes a shocking call, faking a punt in his own end up 35-17. As a Jets fan I can tell you this isn't the first crazy call I've sen him make, but it worked this time. Could have been a huge momentum change for Central, but instead it set up a RMU score a few plays later.
Since I've crushed Mac for several silly calls in the last few weeks I have to get on Walton for that one. He got lucky in my humble opinion. I can't fault Central's defense for that play since they couldn't have seen that one coming.
You can fault the D for the rest of the day, however. A bad, bad effort when they needed a good one the most.
It's 42-17 late in the third and over.

That should do it

After Central makes a first on 4th and 1 by running the "2-pt play" as I've come to call it (the play against Albany they ran twice for 2), Gunnar Jespersen gets picked. RMU driving now.

Better than nothing

After Central punts, the Devils force a punt, a rarity today.
Now with the ball back in almost a must-score situation.

Not so much

Well Central did little with its first drive of the half, and RMU just converted another 3rd down, and has the ball in CC territory. The Devils need a stop here. Even a FG would be ok.
And as I type that, Russ goes 40-plus yards for a score.
So disaster for Central, which neither scores nor gets its stop. 35-17 early third.
The good news is they were down like this at Albany a couple weeks ago.

1st half stats

Gunnar 10-13 183 and two scores.
Benjamin 10-39.
Josue Pau; 3 catches, 88 yards.

Sinclair is 7-13 for 103
Myles is 16 carries, 104 yards.

Checking in

sorry, running around a bit and trying to scarf down food during the break. Neither team scored to end the half.
CCSU gets the ball down 28-17. Score here and they're right back in it. Even if the don't, maybe move the ball a bit and then get a stop, get themselves in a flow.

That's new!

Central holds on a 3rd and long, thanks to Jeff Marino's sack.
CCSU calls time, will take over with 2 left. Score here before the half would be huge.

A season saver?

Gunnar Jespersen hits Josue Paul for a 60-yard score on the first play of Central's next drive. It's 28-17 now late in the half. Is there a lot of work left to do? Yes. But getting the tide turned a little was HUGE right there.
We'll see if CCSU can keep some mo.

Another one!?!

A second third and long turns into a first down run, this time by Sinclair. A few plays later, RMU is in. 28-10 now midway through the half.
The scary thing is this one was a long drive built on runs. 80 yards, 8 minutes. Central's defense getting crushed.

Another blown chance

On a 3rd and 10, Russ goes for a first down with a long run. Central misses a big chance to get the ball back, and now RMU is driving. This might be the backbreaker if they score here.

Could have been worse

Central fumbles but recovers and has to punt. Better than the last fumble for Central, which resulted in a TD. 21-10, early 2nd now.

Relief, then disaster

Central holds for the first time today, gets a punt, but Benjamin fumbles at the CCSU 1. Jeff Link goes the "distance," on the next play, and it's 21-10 RMU with 2:01 left in the quarter.
HUGE momentum swing here. Central's gotta respond here.
Devils ball near midfield.

That's a real answer

A long pass to Richie Martin and a couple of runs by Everette Benjamin and Chris Tolbert gets a TD catch and it's 14-10 and we haven't gone 10 minutes yet.
Take a seat and hold onto your hats, it's gonna be a bumpy ride.
14-10 RMU

Wow that was fast

RMU starts at the CC 41 (problem 1).
Sinclair hits passes of 27 and 14 yards (problem 2).
Robert Morris leads 14-3 with 7:52 to go. (problem 3).

Decent answer

Central can't convert on a 3rd down, Joe Izzo converts a 29-yarder to make it 7-3 RMU at the 8:27 mark. It's not the TD you'd like to see when you get down there, but it is an answer of some kind.

It's snowing!

Very cool. This should help Central, too, as it might limit the RMU passing game if it were to ever pick up. If I were on the sideline, I bet I could hear Coach McInerney singing "Let it Snow."

Well isn't that special?

Kick coverage (and the kick itself) hurts again. RMU starts its drive near midfield, then proceeds to march the rest of the way to score. 7-0 RMU about 2 minutes in.
The Colonials had a big 3rd and 9 at the 20, but QB Jeff Sinclair breaks a tackle and hits a 20-yard pass for the score.

I'm here

I'll be checking in throughout the day.
Let the biggest game ever begin.
Central will kick to start.

One more for today

Daquan Brickhouse did in fact leave the basketball team after the first practice. He wasn't expelled or anything, but the decision kind of seemed mutual. He wasn't happy here nor did coach Dickenman seem happy with him.

Detrick work continues

Here's a look at the new banners next to the scoreboard in Detrick. The "plates" were removed today right after the men practiced, and they're being replaced with banners for the other league schools. There will be 6 per side, with one of the Central one being more decorative.
(photo courtesy of CCSU).
The banners are the school colors for each team with the school's name, say for ex. Quinnipiac University, in an old-style font.
I believe the championship banners will be on either side of the league ones.
The front hallway is also being changed, as the school is going to put all the NEC title trophies where the showcases are currently. The football stuff will still be displayed, but likely moved to another room in Kaiser, probably the "blue room" where many post game press conferences are done. That work hadn't begun by the time I left the gym today, but shouldn't take long.

Hoops nuggets

So I spent the day with the men, and while I'll have a lot of good stuff for you in the preview, I thought I'd tackle two of the questions I get asked most frequently.
1) About Devan Bailey. I'll let coach Howie Dickenman answer:
"Right now he looks like a backup, but a good backup."
Ok, this is me talking again now. I think this isn't as much about Bailey as it is the fact that Central, with Ken Horton's return, is deep up front again.
I'm guessing, but it's an educated guess: The starting five at Mohegan Sun Arena are Shemik Thompson and Robby Ptacek in back of Horton, Markeys Deans and Joe Efese.

2) About Justin Alexander: He just doesn't seem to be ready for the floor yet. The coaching staff loves his work ethic and smarts, and insist he learns quickly. But his game is quite raw. He can make a 15-footer when he's standing still and he can set, but it's hard for him to shoot on the run. Also he can be pushed around inside, which isn't surprising for a young player.
With his willingness to learn and his drive, he should eventually be a contributor. But I don't see it being right now, other than providing another body against big teams.

One more thing

All the football stuff is below, and under than is some hoops, so please check those out. But I wanted to remind you that the women's soccer team plays its NEC semifinal at noon. There's supposed to be streaming video, and while I haven't asked, I believe it will be linked to on CCSU's site.

Biggest. Game. Ever.

It's that simple for the football team Saturday. Win, and they are likely going to the FCS playoffs. Lose, and they are certainly not.
By the way, if you haven't done the math, here it is:
IF RMU WINS: They are the league champs, no ifs ands or buts. The best CCSU could do at that point is tie at 1 loss (RMU has one league game left, so if they win Saturday then their worst case is 1 loss), and RMU would win the tiebreaker. For historical purposes the teams would be co-champs (CCSU lists its other co-championships in which they lost tiebreaks in its notes), but let's be frank, the playoffs are what matter here. 2nd place would be a LOT better than I thought this team was going to do, but it's not the playoffs.

If CCSU WINS: The Blue Devils would then need a split of their final two games to win the league's playoff bid. With a split they would have 1 loss, as would RMU, and CCSU would have the head-to-head tiebreak.
In other words, if Central wins Saturday, it would have to lose its last 2 games to lose the league title. And there's no chance of that. Even if Central loses to Monmouth, the Devils would not lose to SFPA at home with the conference on the line. I guarantee it.
Of course, if Central wins Saturday and then wins out, there's no math involved. The Blue Devils have their 2nd straight outright title. And this time, it would be good enough for a trip to the show.

All this said, while I think the game is winnable if Central plays its best, I just don't see the Devils getting this one done. They lose a close one, and I tell you why in the paper Sat. morning. Of course, I also break down how Central can win, and I do it all while naming U2 songs. So enjoy that.
Though I'll say this: I had Central as a .500 team in the league before the year, so me being wrong would be nothing new.

Poll stuff

Checking in with some basketball poll thoughts, though I don't want to give too much away before our special section previewing the season comes out Wednesday (shameless plug by me).

The men were a little lower than I thought they'd be, but I understand the hesitation since the other coaches have no clue what Ken Horton's readiness is. This group without him has proven to be a 6th place team and an 8th place team, so I think the coaches figured even if Kenny is at half speed it moves the Devils up a couple spots. If he's healthy, that jumps obviously.
Not sure I buy the love for LIU yet. I have to go back into the research I did over the summer for that project, but I don't recall thinking LIU was going to be that strong.
I think it's a 3-horse race in the NEC with Quinny, CCSU and RMU leading the field. We shall see. MUCH more on the men as we get closer to Mohegan.
By the way, I'm going to keep mentioning this since my info was bad all summer: THE CT 6 GAME IS A 6 P.M. TIP, NOT 9.

As for the women's poll, well, let me just give you the facts and leave names out of it. Team X has made the semifinals 2 years in a row, returns 5 starters from the lineup it went with most of the season last year, four of whom are seniors and adds a key bench piece that missed most of last year. That team is Central and it was picked 7th. I was shocked by that one. I'm not saying I think the women are going to win the league, but 7th is ridiculous. Somewhere around 4th I can buy, if you're not bullish on them. But 7th? No way.

By the way, Beryl Piper wasn't kidding when she said she added some size. Now, the question becomes can any of the new tall kids play?

Injury stuff

Coach Jeff McInerney doesn't get real specific when it comes to injury updates, mostly due to HIPPA laws, but he tries to give me enough to get the relevant info to you after I translate it a bit.
So here we go for the injury report for the big one Saturday. The bottom line is there's no big ones (as always, we're not counting Brian Fowler here since he's out all year and has been).

DL Dominick Tomanelli was limited to special teams with a shoulder last week, and should play at least that much again this week. DB Torin McCullough has some aches and pains in his back but should be able to go.
Reserve QBs Jake White and Denzell Jones were both mentioned by the coach as having injuries, but neither is listed as out. But if something happens to QB Gunnar Jespersen Saturday, the Blue Devils have bigger problems than which QB would replace him.
That's it. Everyone else is good to go according to the coach.
To be clear: I'm saying that if Gunnar were to get hurt Central would be in trouble, not that he IS hurt. He's fine.

I'm still here

Going to be REALLY busy with the previews and such for the next two weeks or so, so I'll try and get here when I can.
For now, let me babble a bit about the football game from last week.
Things l liked: The poise. Wagner bordered on dirty in the game, especially once it got away, and for the most part Central avoided getting into fights and such. That shows the kind of focus this team lacked early.
The defense: Maybe that 2nd half at Albany really was the start of something. Nick Doscher is a dangerous player who nearly single-handedly beat Central last year, and the Devils swarmed him this time. VERY good sign.

What I didn't like: The risks. Central coach Jeff McInerney insisted that he shouldn't have used that pooch punt he likes to try with QB Gunnar Jespersen, but hinted that he likes the play. It didn't matter in this game, but sometimes I think Mac gets too cute for his own good. Just let the kids play. I give him a lot of credit for molding a very young team and maintain that this is the best coaching job he's done here by far, but I wonder if he doesn't overcoach at times. That's two weeks in a row I didn't like a "gimmick" for lack of a better word. Still hate the 2-pt try at Albany.
What was on my screen. I had the RMU game on the cpu next to me while at the Central game Saturday, and their offense looks tough. Central's defense had better be VERY ready.