Sparking the debate

We'll have lots on the UMass game coming up, but I wanted you to tell you now to take a minute Saturday and read the piece I've written about the end of "The Streak."
I know there's a segment of CCSU fans who get riled up whenever the "Evil Empire" is mentioned, but if you can't appreciate what they did, read my piece and give me a chance to change your mind.
Now, as a late Christmas present, I will give you all a statement to debate. I'm sure I'll see it on the messageboards, but I'd love to get your comments here or at my email at
While UConn's women would lose to every men's DI team, Maya Moore herself could absolutely play in the NEC.
With that, I want to wish you all a very happy new year and beg you all to be careful tonight, especially the CCSU students who might read this. Please, please, please don't drink and drive. If you've had too many, call a cab, catch a ride, or crash wherever you are for the night. There's no shame in any of those. There's lots of shame in what could happen if you don't do any of the above.
I'll talk to you all in 2011. It's starting to look like we'll have much to discuss, perhaps into March.

Brown wrap up

Howie Dickenman said this performance was even better than the UNH game, and it's hard to argue. There were more people involved tonight and the Blue Devils looked crisper. Now you'll say they didn't do it against good teams, but good teams are supposed to pound bad ones at home, and that's what Central has done the last two games.
More importantly, the Blue Devils will be feeling confident heading into the UMass game.
To review the earlier post about Justin Alexander and the 37 earlier posts about Ken Horton: Alexander was ill and Horton had a cramp. He expects to be fine for UMass.

Let's play man-to-man.

De'Angelo Speech: Had probably his worst game, picking up five turnovers and not doing much else useful, but he's been so good that we'll cut him some slack tonight. Still, he can't play like that too often and keep his starting job.

Joe Efese: Started for Markeys Deans, according to Dickenman, so Central could win the tip. Dickenman said Efese had been 7 for 7 on tips in the morning shootaround, so he gave him the start. Efese won the tip, but I don't know that I buy the story completely. I think Dickenman was just covering for Deans a little bit. The senior has been struggling of late after a wonderful start to the year. Efese was certainly aggressive, getting five fouls in 14 minutes, but did some of the things that had everyone so high on him before the year. The two blocks were a great sign.

Devan Bailey: Played great defense on Patrick Sullivan and made two of his three shots. A missed free throw and two turnovers in 31 minutes aren't much to complain about.

Robby Ptacek: Fantastic. Aggressive. 18 points and eight boards. Missed a couple more shots than you'd like, but gave a really nice showing. Wouldn't take the bait either when I asked him afterwords if his slump earlier in the year was because of the toe/ankle issues.

Ken Horton: If he could have made a three this would have been one of those historic showings. Instead he had to "settle" for 17, with seven boards, four assists and four steals. Even if one of those steals seemed more like a tackle from my view on the other side of the court, it was a great two-way game for Horton. His ability to make that big-to-big pass changes the whole offense, especially against smaller teams.

Markeys Deans: His one minute played lends credence to my theory that Efese's return to the starting lineup was about more than the opening tip. He will be heard from again before the year is over.

Vince Rosario: Stuck a three and had a steal in seven minutes. Pretty much exactly what he's supposed to do.

Shemik Thompson: Back in the facemask, Thompson was solid. Six boards, five assists, six points, only 2 TOs. A picture of poise.

Mark Laporte: The crowd would have exploded if he'd stuck his shot.

Chris Baskerville: His best game in who knows how long. 21 minutes, 3-for-4 from the floor, seven points, four boards. Terrific energy. Probably earned more time Monday night.

Terrell Allen: Four points, four boards and a block in 13 minutes? Wow. Did everything Speech usually does. This is probably the deepest CCSU team I can remember in my nearly seven years on the beat.

Taking attendence

Justin Alexander was sick tonight and stayed home, that's why he wasn't on the bench.
No discipline issue.

Horton is going to be fine

Ken Horton said after the game it was a cramp that caused his ankle issue, not a sprain or anything. He'll be fine for Monday.
Much more on tonight's game, which Howie Dickenman called the best of the year, later tonight.

False alarm No. 2

Hey folks, I just report what I see!
Horton's back. Clearly bothered, but not severely, but his lower right leg. I'll just update again if something serious happens. The time between now and Monday will be very big for him I imagine.

The watch begins

Central has this game well in hand, up 13 in the second half, so we'll watch 2 things the rest of the way.
1) Ken Horton just went out again. He's playing with his right foot, but he doesn't appear in agony.
2) Can Central keep this lead without him? Will they have to?

Even better news

Paul Manwaring said something to Horton, who nodded positively.
I assume the question was something like "are you ok."
And he's going to inbound the ball. Crisis averted.

Good news

Ken Horton came out of the second half with the team and is in the layup line.
Actually he just went back to the bench and is stretching his leg. Now he's jogging up the sideline. He's smiling and chatting with some people, though he's grimacing as he jogs.
We'll see.

Ken Horton update

Horton left with the team at the half (CCSU up 38-24) with a noticeable limp and a wrap on his right shin.

Potential problem

Another good half for Central came to a crashing halt with 1:03 left and Central up 35-24. Ken Horton took a charge and went down.
And stayed there.
He's now at the end of the bench, and Paul Manwaring is working on his right ankle.
It doesn't APPEAR too serious at the moment, but this would be the biggest development of the year if it's bad.
More ASAP.

Lineup change

Joe Efese started tonight for the struggling Markeys Deans.
Shemik Thompson was the first one off the bench as usual.
Everyone is present and accounted for except Justin Alexander.

Schedule change for the women

Ole Miss won't get to the tournament at St. Peter's that Central is at, so the format is being changed to a 3-day round robin.
Central will now play Samford Wednesday night and St. Peter's Friday afternoon.
The Devils were set to play St Peter's Wednesday night and either Samford or Ole Miss Thursday night.

An answer

First off, I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and holiday season. We're back blogging now, so expect lots of updates as the season heats up.
By the way, while I can't take credit for it, I have the 1,000 point trivia answer.
Ken Horton (68 games) is the fastest to 1,000 points in CCSU's Division I history.

A good question

Just wanted to let Matt, who should win our emailer of the year award, know that I'm chasing down his question: How many players got to 1,000 faster than Kenny Horton?
Will let you know when I know.

New Hampshire wrapup

CCSU coach Howie Dickenman called Wednesday night's effort the best Central has played in a "couple of years."
It was hard to argue. The Blue Devils, seemingly healthy again, appear on the verge of another run like they had to start the year. In fact, they need one. With four more home games to play in this homestand, the time is now to gain back some of the ground lost in the last 2 weeks. The UMass game and the first 2 NEC games at home are all huge, but the Brown game is big because Central needs to rack up wins before the big ones come.
To do that, Ken Horton and Shemik Thompson are going to have to produce like this consistently. But this game showed off Central's depth. Vince Rosario is back healthy and De'Angelo Speech continues to get better.
It's incredibly unfair to do the kind of comparative score exorcises we're all tempted to do, but let's do it anyway: UNH led UConn in the second half. Central just smacked UNH. Just saying. Central should have beaten Dayton and looked great tonight against a team that, on its best night at least, can play with the big boys, too. Things are suddenly looking up again at Detrick.
To see how that happened, let's do another exorcise I call man-to-man.

Markeys Deans: He scored well and efficiently, but didn't play much against UNH's big front line. His production has decreased of late, but when he's the 4th or 5th option, you're in good shape.

De'Angelo Speech: Terrific performance. Six assists, no turnovers and a steal in 26 minutes. He hasn't figured out the offense yet, but he does a bunch of things and provides energy.

Devan Bailey: Four assists, only one turnover, and two blocks. Another example of a player who is limited offensively but finds ways to contribute. A team can't afford too many of those, but a couple of "glue guy" types help any team.

Robby Ptacek: Interesting that he didn't get to the foul line a game after committing a couple of charges, but he played pretty well. Four turnovers, but his three steals led to huge fast breaks. Two in particular came during the the big run that put Central ahead for good.

Ken Horton: Another great effort, including his 1,000th point. Got the ball inside against some big boys in blue, and grabbed 8 boards. On the other end he had 3 blocks. Didn't go crazy with 3-point tries. Really well done.

Vince Rosario: Reports of his demise have been greatly exaggerated. He returned to the rotation and looked like his old self, getting up six shots in 14 minutes.

Shemik Thompson: Howie Dickenman said after the game that he planned on keeping Thompson in the spark off the bench role, and he was a spark Wednesday. He immediately changed the game when he came in about 3 minutes in, and I think you'll continue to see him in this role. It will ruin his career starts numbers, but for now it might be the best for the team, particularly if he's going to play like this. 15 assists and 3 turnovers in the last 2 games.

Mark Laporte: Welcome to the blog young man. The biggest mistake Rosario made in the game was not getting Laporte the ball on that fast break near the end.

Joe Efese: Dickenman begged for more aggression from him after Sunday's game and got it last night. Six points and 4 boards in 11 minutes is a good start.

Chris Baskerville: Good to see him on the floor. Five minutes is a start, and two boards. If he can ever give Central another presence inside, it would be a huge help.

Terrell Allen: A little bit of everything in 14 minutes. As Speech develops into a starter on this team, Allen will have to go into Speech's all-purpose role.

Under wraps

This one is long since over, so I'm putting the blog to bed to do postgame stuff. Will have much more later tonight. You'll probably read it tomorrow, unless you're nuts like me and are up late thinking about basketball.


With just under 13 minutes left, Ken Horton hit a three to give him 17 tonight and 1,000 for his career. He is the 33rd Blue Devil to reach 1,000 and the second this year (Shemik Thompson). the last time two players did it in one year was 2007, when three did it. Central danced that year.

Nugget of the half

CCSU led 35-10 a second ago, its biggest lead of the year so far. The previous mark was 19 at Army.

Stat of the season

With 3:59 left in the half, UNH has nine fouls and 10 points.
It goes to show that you can't use a game as an indication of a team. But that works both ways. The Wildcats aren't as good at they were at Gampel last month, but they're not this bad either.
And remember, CCSU held FDU to 14 points in the first half less than three weeks ago and lost the game.
32-10 CCSU, 3:59 left in the half.
It's the Shemik Thompson show. He has 12, 4 and 4.

Great start

10 of Central's first 16 points came off turnovers, and the Blue Devils did a brilliant job turning steals into fast breaks on the way to a 16-4 lead at the 12:38 mark.
This UNH team looks totally different from the one that scared UConn.

Two on Vince Rosario

First, to the commenter's question: Vince Rosario is a junior eligibility wise, not a senior.
Second, so much for his injury appearing to be getting worse. He just checked in.

Unrelated correction

The other day when talking about the CCSU women I said they lost at the buzzer last year to UNH. That was the season opener at Maine, who hit a three with 5 seconds left. Central beat UNH last year.
My bad.

Rosario's status

CCSU's game notes for Wednesday's game have Vince Rosario listed as "out indefinitely" with that hip injury.
I just checked in and the Blue Devils are not sure if he will return this season.
This isn't a season-ending kind of thing for the Blue Devils, but it's always nice to have another shooter available.

Niagara wrapup

Forgive the delay in getting his up, last night's work took longer than expected.
As for the game, well, I asked for it, I got it.
For a while now I've been hinting that Ken Horton needed to put the cape on and go back to being Ken Horton at the end of one of these close games. Sunday afternoon, he did just that. Robby Ptacek had been brilliant and Shemik Thompson played a big part at the end as well, but Horton looked willing to take over the game for the first time in a while, which is what was needed.
Central's defense was lacking at times, especially in the half court as the Purple Eagles got in the back door on too many occasions, but you can't complain about a win too much.
We learned a couple things in the post game press conference that I'll get to below, but there was one big thing we learned above all else.
Central needed to win one of these close games, and it did so. I think home court will make a huge difference going forward. If CCSU gets hot over these next 5, the whole tenor of the season could change again.
Especially if Ken Horton keeps the cape.
Let's go man-t0-man.

Markeys Deans: Couldn't score the ball (missed 10 shots), but managed to contribute in other ways, getting 8 boards, two steals and a block. When Ptacek and Horton are going offensively, he doesn't need to score 20 every night like he had been when those guys were struggling.

De'Angelo Speech: When your fouls are your highest number in a night it's not a great game. Still, he contributed.

Devan Bailey: Solid all-around game. Assists, steals, rebounds and minutes. Did his job.

Robby Ptacek: Brilliant. Attacked the rim, made pullups, got to the line and made free throws. If he can figure out how to do all that without committing as many fouls, particularly offensive ones, he'll be onto something. Still, 23 points and 9 at the line is a great night.

Ken Horton: He played like The Franchise, especially late. What I liked about him (and always have) is that he can pick his spots to take over. He doesn't need to take the ball from Ptacek or Thompson to get his offense. He can let them be hot, then take it back when they cool off, or in this case when Ptacek fouled out. He didn't overkill it with threes, either.
10 rebounds and a huge block late as well. Just a spectacular all-around game. Took 20 shots, but they were mostly within the offense. Not that anyone minds.
"If he wants to take 20 shots, go ahead," Howie Dickenman said after the game.

Shemik Thompson: He said after the game he's been hurt lately, which had something to do with his poor play. But still made sure to mention that he needed to be better, even when banged up, which I like about him. Apparently he's healthy now. Howie said he was going to play him in short spurts, but that he looked good enough to leave him out there longer. And Thompson responded with his best effort. 10 assists, three steals, 1 turnover, four free throws, including the big ones. Fantastic effort by the leader.

Joe Efese: The other thing we learned was that Dickenman isn't holding Efese back because he's still hurt, but because he wants him to be more aggressive. He was brilliant in the morning shootaround, but didn't get going in the game. Dickenman wants him to go out and be aggressive, even if it means he commits some fouls. I'd love to see him send one into the stands and let out a yell Wednesday night. It might kick start him.

Terrell Allen: Five points, two boards, a steal and a block in 12 minutes, including a huge layup (off a great feed from Thompson) late. Kind of took Speech's energy role at least for a night.

Central survives

Central wins thanks to Horton and Thompson carrying the Blue Devils over the finish line.
Much more to come later tonight after my desk job is done and stories are written.

Mark the time

Robby Ptacek fouls out with CCSU up 4 and 5:25 left. We'll see how this plays out.
It's Horton time for Central.


Central hanging on to a 3-point lead with 7:03 left in, dare I say, regulation.
23 for Ptacek, 17 for Horton, who made the play of the year by a Blue Devil early in the half when he reached out for an errant alley-oop pass from Shemik Thompson and put up a floater as he fell out of bounds, which went in.

Getting going again

Central hanging in, tied at the half at 36. Horton and Ptacek leading Central, which continues to give up too many easy buckets.

Breaking the rule

CCSU coach Howie Dickenman is a big believer in the "Calhoun rule," where a player with 2 fouls in the first half sits for the rest of the half. He's been more lenient with it of late, including today, where he has left Robby Ptacek in with two fouls. It has worked, as Robby has 13 points.
27 all, 3:48 left in the half.

Back and forth

Central has six points off Niagra turnovers in the first eight minutes and has needed them all to stay close during a Purple Eagle assault. They ran crisp offense early to get a lead, then made their way outside to hit their first three tries from distance on the way to a 19-14 edge.
Ken Horton is 3-for-4 for Central, which has a surprising 12 points in the paint. Devils trail 20-18 at the 10:18 mark.

Taking attendance

Vince Rosario is in street clothes, as in Justin Alexander. Everyone else is present and accounted for.

A couple of men's roster notes

It's only 2:17, but I can give you a couple of things I've heard so far today.
Joe Efese should be ready to go extended minutes today, though Vince Rosario may not be.
Also, and I'll ask Howie this at some point soon, but it sounds more and more like Dave Simmons will not be back this year.

Back on board

So I have a mailbag ready to go, but I haven't gotten to it because of desk stuff (you all should check out our upcoming All-Herald section if you know any kids in the area), but I'm back and and ready now for a big week for the Devils. The men start 6 straight at home this afternoon, and the women look to continue their best start in decades today (already up 5-0 on UNH, who nipped them at the buzzer last year).
I'll be checking in throughout the day and will have our wrap up after the men's game tonight.

Albany wrap up

Here we go again.
Two years ago Central lost at Albany at the buzzer after wipiing out a huge second-half deficit. I wrote an impassioned blog that night about how unfair the game can be, as Central had lost at the buzzer for the second consecutive game. My position was, you come from 18 down in the second half on the road, you deserve to win the game.
It's amazing, scary really, how similar last night was to 2008. Central came to Albany coming off a loss at the buzzer in its previous game (though this time it was CCSU's miss, not the opponent's make at the end). Central trailed by 18 in the second half (seriously, the exact same deficit). Last time, Central rallied to take a four-point lead with less than a minute left. This time, the Blue Devils stormed back to take a three-point lead with just over two minutes left. The final that night was 68-67. The final this time was 64-63.
I give you this last similarity not to pick on one player, but just to drive home the EERIE similarities between the last two times Central has been to Albany: Last time, Robby Ptacek, trapped in the corner, committed a turnover with 8 seconds left, giving Albany its last shot. This time, he committed a turnover, an offensive foul, with four seconds left that gave Albany the free throws that sealed it. Really bizarre stuff.
Anyway, that's where the similarities end. Because the mood after the two games is much different. At least mine is.
Two years ago, I felt bad for the Blue Devils. This time, I have to wonder when Central is going to stop giving games away. Perhaps that phrasing is too harsh, but it's time for Central to step up in critical situations and put a game away. The Blue Devils have lost four straight. The last three have been by 2, 2 and 1. And the fourth game, while eventually a rout, Central led in the second half.
Yes Joe Efese has missed most of that time and Robby Ptacek has been banged up. And in the grand scheme of things, only the FDU loss matters. But Central's psyche likely hangs in the balance here. This could quickly start to spiral if the Blue Devils don't get something resembling a killer instinct and put a game away late. It just seems like the losses are feeding off each other. Remember the team that came back from 10 or more down so often early in the year? Where did it go? And more importantly, when is Central going to stop waiting until it's down 10 to start scoring?
The good news is that Central now comes home for six straight at Detrick, a stretch that could define the season. Maybe the luck they've been missing is waiting for the Devils in New Britain. This is the time when Howie Dickenman has to coach and Shemik Thompson has to lead. It's time for Central to win a close game, and it's time to get the spirit back before this year becomes too similar to the last couple.
Plenty of time for a few mailbags and a live chat before the 19th. We just have to pick a time for the chat, and you guys need to keep hitting my inbox at to get my answers. It might take me a couple days as we have a million things to do this week in the office, but I'll get to everything.
Let's go man-to-man.

Markeys Deans: He was due for a poor offensive game. Didn't score a ton, but had 3 assists and didn't take too many shots. One turnover, which he made up for with a steal. A so-so night.

Ken Horton: Picked it up in the second half, was efficient, led the team in rebounding and had a block. Showed signs of becoming the go-to-guy again. But Central needs more than flashes of the old Kenny. The Blue Devils need Kenny.

Shemik Thompson: The big part of the year is coming, it's time for the leader to start making shots. His turnovers were down, however, just three in 30 minutes.

Devan Bailey: All year I've talked about how he has at worst given Central a bunch of minutes without hurting the team. This time, he had a technical foul that hurt the team. Albany made one of 2 at the line. Central lost by one. Not saying that one play was the difference, but it sure didn't help. Four turnovers, too. Not a good night.

Robby Ptacek: I really hated mentioning the turnover earlier because he was so good. 26 points, aggressive, got to the line and made his free throws.

De'Angelo Speech: Still making a few too many mistakes, but he's being asked to do a lot for a freshman. His energy is still a plus for this team I feel.

Joe Efese: Only played three minutes, but had a block. The question is when can he play more?

Chris Baskerville: As one of my favorite high school coaches says, "zeroes across the board." Seriously, there are 15 different places on the stat sheet in front of me in which a player can put up a number, and in this case they're all 0's. I'm not even picking on him, because he only played three minutes, but it's still odd to see.

Terrell Allen: All zeros except for a foul. Not good, but again, only six minutes. Dickenman went with a short bench tonight.

Justin Alexander: Got in for 40 seconds. It's a start. Everyone tells me he's going to be a player someday, so let him get his feet wet.

Scouting report

I was trading scouting reports with my new friend Matt who does a blog about UA hoops, and I thought I'd give you his take on the Danes heading into the game Sat. night.
We'll have everything we usually do late at night tommorow, I have to make the paper and write up the CCSU thing.
Anyway, here's Matt's take on UA:
"Logan Aronhalt has been the story of the year, absolutely lighting a few team up when his stroke is falling. We haven't won a game yet when he hasn't gone on extended run where's he's draining from three. The key though is Mike Black, our quick point guard who has been working his way back from injury- we have NO depth at the pg position so we were helpless without him. He's still rusty, but he's almost 100% healthy, and should be able to push the ball. Tim Ambrose has been the whipping boy of the team the last couple year while forcing a lot of shots- but he had no help. This year, with Logan and Black stepping up, Ambrose has played his best ball ever, controlled, efficient, and still able to bully his way to the rim. The front court is youth, youth, youth. Two freshman start, Devlin and Puk, and sophomore Metcalf comes off the bench. None have proven a real threat to score. Devlin has potential to get hot from three, but we've only seen it once. Puk is athletic, but still raw, and Metcalf is a solid rebounder with a handful of post moves."

Dayton wrap up

Ah, the breaks of basketball. Central has played poorly and won a time or two already this year and tonight plays great against a big name opponent and can't get the W.
So on a night where Central fails to cash in its "get out of the play-in game free" card and I didn't get to meet Triple H, let's, well, as "the Game" would say, break it down.
The cynic will say this was another game in which Central blew a lead and let it a big win slip away, and he or she would be right. To play at Dayton without a starter (Joe Efese) and a rotation guy Vince Rosario, who missed the game with a hip injury) and still have a chance to win is an opportunity you can't miss out on.
The optimist, however, would say "Central was up much of the night at Dayton without Joe Efese or Vince Rosario," and he or she would also be right. That's the fun of sports, you can argue both sides of things and usually be right.
Especially someone like me, who frequently argues with himself about both sides of an issue. If you're a Blue Devil on that plane right now, I think you're crushed you let it get away. But you got some confidence back after the loss to FDU. I think, IF Central can couple tonight's effort with a win at Albany, they will have some major confidence heading into the homestand.
With all that said, let's play a little man-to-man. By the way, to those who ask, I usually just go in order of how the kids are listed on the box score I have in front of me as I do this.

Markeys Deans: Certainly a worthy player to start with. Yeah, he missed the last shot, but his performance was the main reason Central was in the game. 10-for-14, 2-of-3 from deep 8 boards and only one turnover in 32 minutes. Fantastic night.

Ken Horton: He did most of his damage early, which is good and bad. It's bad that he wasn't able to keep his great start going, but also good that his start helped Central get an early lead and confidence. No turnovers, but two missed freebies take points off his grade. Didn't shoot the ball great, but was also deferring a bit to Markeys.

Shemik Thompson: If his steal had led to Robby Ptacek's pass getting to him for a tying layup, it would have been the play of the year. He's struggling with his shot and I've come to accept that his TO total will be higher than you'd like this year because he has the ball so much, but he also had 6 assists and five boards. he'll start making shots eventually. When he does, Central could be on to something.

De'Angelo Speech: His failed box out a few moments before was more than made up for by his great pass to Deans for the would-be game-winner. He's doing a little bit of everything while learning on the fly. No complaints here, despite freshman mistakes.

Robby Ptacek: A phenomenal effort, bad toe and all. No rebounds, but his drives played a key part in Central's comeback late. He's tough as nails and can make an outside shot. That becomes even more of a pressing need if Rosario is out for a while.

Devan Bailey: Five assists and no turnovers in 22 minutes. If he does that, I don't care if he ever takes another shot.

Chris Baskerville: If he gets fully healthy it will be a big boost to the frontcourt, especially without Joe. He didn't do much, but he seems to be getting closer.

Terrell Allen: Filled in admirably on a tough stage. Nothing special, but not much negative about his 21 minutes, which is what you want from a freshman.

Nice to see the rotation growing, even if it is out of need for the moment. We'll figure out what the 10-man team is once everyone is back.

They got a look

Markeys Deans misses an open 3 that would have won it from the left wing. And I mean open.
Shemik had a tough fallaway from about 10 feet for a putback, but shot it too hard.
Central falls by 2. One more chance to win a "step up" game, that comes vs. UMass in New Britain.
Wrap up to come in a bit, let me write my story for the paper.

One more shot

After a bad foul and another turnover by Dayton, Central gets the ball down 2 with 10 seconds left.

It doesn't look good

The game's been crazy and I've been taking notes, so I haven't been able to blog much.
After a night of great breaks, Central just got a bad one down 2 with less than 30 seconds left. Shemik Thompson got a steal in the backcourt and the ball rolled to Robby Ptacek, who tried to lob it back to Thompson. His pass was stolen, however, and Dayton made 2 free throws to make it 4 with 19.9 to go.
A dumb foul by Dayton however, and CCSU at the line. More to come.

Hang tight

I don't want to say Central is getting lucky because the Blue Devils are making shots, but they seem to score every time Dayton is on the verge of getting within striking distance.
Markeys Deans is shooting very, very well and Central has been clutch all night. The Devils are up 36-33 with 15:51 to go. This is about the time the Providence debacle happened, however, so we'll see if Central can stand up to a Flyer run we all assume is coming.

Good first half

I'll try not to jinx it this time, but I have to report the truth. Central is up six at the half. Twice the Devils have caught big breaks: Markeys Deans his a three at the shot clock horn just as Dayton was making a run, and Shemik Thompson made a shot with one second left in the half.
Central is giving up too many open outside shots, but if the Flyers can't hit them, it's not a problem.
Central finished the half 9-for-16 from the floor, not bad without Joe Efese or Vince Rosario, both out tonight.
Now, the Flyers are going to make some shots. The question is, do the Blue Devils wilt form fatigue and deflation down the stretch, or do they hang tough and find a way to win a huge non-conference game?
I'll let you know.
I'm going to try and check in more in the second half, been doing a bit of everything so far.

off and running

Turns out I will be able to blog.
We'll see if Central can make a run with Chris Wright having two fouls for Dayton in the first four minutes.

Checking in

Will write on here likely after the game tonight, not sure if I'll get to live blog during it. We'll see how the night goes.
But we'll do our postgame ritual on here for sure. Judging by the last two big games Central played vs. upper echelon teams, you'd have to expect this to go poorly, but we'll see.

Blame me for this one

So FDU was inspired by my halftime joke apparently. Either that or we've gone back in time to last year, when Central really struggled to score. Robby Ptacek is playing hurt and Joe Efese is out, but there should be enough bodies left to score more than 20 points in a half. This was the kind of game Ken Horton had to step up in. I know he was tired, but he needed to at least do more on offense. The same goes for Shemik Thompson. The two were a combined 6-for-21 from the floor... not what you need from your leaders when you're in trouble.
Getting Joe Efese back will be a big help, but someone has to carry the load in the meantime.
The good news is they have two more non-conference road games to go before they get to make some hay at home with six straight. Winning at Albany.
But first things, first. Let's play Central man-to-man.

Markeys Deans: Another solid game, though he did make some mistakes and was a non-factor inside. Offense, good. Everything else, well, it could have been better.

Ken Horton: Faded in the second half trying to keep the big guy off him while trying to carry the offense at the same time. NEEDS to have one of those stretches from the early part of two years ago before he got hurt where he just takes things over when no one else seems to be able to.

Shemik Thompson: He's been so good for so long that we'll cut him some slack for his recent play, but he's another guy that needs to step up.

Devan Bailey: Usually I'd give him credit for eating 12 more minutes, but on this day, someone had to do more than just hold the fort. The game wasn't his fault, but he didn't rescue them, either.

Robby Ptacek: He's back to being aggressive despite his toe issue, but he needs to make some shots now. Too many turnovers, too. But still, you have to be happy to get eight boards from him.

Vince Rosario: Coach Howie Dickenman was trying to show him that defense matters if you want playing time, but I'd like to have seen him get more than a play. My guess is Howie felt he wouldn't be able to keep Scott in front of him at all.

De'Angelo Speech: He's really growing on him. Still does some crazy freshman things on occasion, but he's a shot away from being a really good player right now. And he tends to make up for his mistakes with as many steals as he has turnovers.

Terrell Allen: Still learning the ropes. Not nearly as far along as Speech, but shows flashes.


I apologize in advance to the Blue Devils if my joke about FDU's offense ended up being a jinx. Central's lead is down to 6 with 12 minutes left.

Halftime check

FDU can't get its guards going and Central has done a good enough job on the bigs to be up 26-14 at the break.
I'm going to make a prediction: Central will win every game this season in which it holds the opposition to 14 points in the first half.

Checking in

I'll have your full recap, including our man-to-man segment, after the game tonight.
Central leads by 10 at FDU right now despite not even playing well. The Devils are turning the ball over left and right, but are winning with defense. FDU hasn't scored a field goal in about 8 minutes.

Finishing up football

As promised, a quick Q and A as I clean out my email during the last quiet week of the basketball season.
I got a couple of questions I've been asked about URI joining the NEC in football beginning in 2013. I'll paraphrase the questions in the interest of time and space.

Q: Can this be the start of a bigger raid by the NEC of the likes of Maine and UNH?
A: I don't see this as the start of a raid per se, but I've been saying for a year (maybe more) now that the CAA as presently constituted won't last. The travel budgets are growing as the economy shrinks, which doesn't make sense. And as northern teams pull out of the football league, it makes less and less sense for the teams that haven't jumped yet to stay.
I can see those teams joining together to form some kind of northern league or, sadly, dropping the sport like NU and Hofstra have done of late. If enough of these teams can't find people to play, it might make more sense to drop the sport.
It's been a while since I've seen URI play so I'll have to research it this summer, but my first instinct is to worry that the Rams will dominate the league. If that happens, I'm not sure how long the marriage lasts.

Q: Could this lead the NEC to go full scholarship?
A: The conventional wisdom out there has been that URI is doing this in part to have an excuse to have fewer scholarships. But I'm not sure it's a permanent move. The NEC has worked hard on increasing its scholarship numbers, however, and I feel that at the very least they'll meet in the middle. The NEC clearly wants to become credible in football, so I can't see it trying to limit growth. Of course URI will have to come down on its number to meet the NEC teams, but I think they're all going back up eventually.

Q: Do I think Stony Brook will come back to the NEC in football?
A: We live in an era where conferences are just groups of teams with no logic to be applied (see TCU to the Big East) but that model doesn't seem sustainable at the lower levels. Stony Brook in the Big South makes less than no sense. The NEC getting a bid to the FCS tournament was a game-changer, and if the NEC can keep attracting bigger name teams like URI, then Stony Brook might want back in. I can't speak to the terms on which they left in the boardroom, but I have learned over the years that money trumps feelings in college athletics, so I wouldn't rule anything out. My only thought is this: How many is too many teams? URI would be 10 (Bryant will be in by then) and you don't want to play anymore league games than that.
The only other option would be to boot the western teams like SFPA (PURE SPECULATION ON MY PART) if you intend on trying to add another couple of teams from around here. But I don't see that happening. I think, in the end, URI is THE move, not the start of many moves.