My friend Tony Graham is reporting for the Asbury Park Press that Monmouth coach Dave Calloway was forced to resign this week.
He was there 14 years and had a heck of a run before his team's sudden and dramatic downfall over the last three years.


We'll obviously do a lot more on the year as a whole and the playoffs, but let's focus just for a minute on the game tonight.
Offensively, you saw signs of life from some of the other players who had gone missing recently. That's a great sign.
Defensively, you saw very little from the Blue Devils, a disturbing trend that has developed in the last 3 weeks or so.

So on a night when we learned that CCSU will host SFNY at Detrick Thursday night and we stop to say thank you Hokies, let's play man-to-man.

Joe Efese: Not sure why he hasn't taken off this year. The turnovers have been a problem. I think the quick hooks he is prone to get from Howie Dickenman might have something to do with it, but I'm not sure. It's a double-edged sword. You want him to stay out there and find a groove, but you can't watch him give the ball away too many times and let it continue. I think he really puts it together next year.

Ken Horton: Drifted outside a little too much, just as he did the first time these teams played. But hey, if that's where the opening is, take it. 23 and 10 with only one turnover. You want me to complain about that?
I'll be on a conference call I think Tuesday during which he will be announced as the NEC Player of the year. Get there early Thursday night if you want to see him be handed the trophy. Be ready to watch him defend it next year, too.

Shemik Thompson: He's alllliiiiiiivvvvvveeee! Eight assists and his shot was discovered. If he keeps it up, that's a great sign.

De'Angelo Speech: Rushed a couple shots, but played with some energy.

Devan Bailey: He MUST stay out of foul trouble Thursday. It has been an issue for him a lot lately for some reason. Also, having him knock down a couple mid-range jumpers as he was doing about a month ago would be great for Central as it tries to break the zone.

Vince Rosario: Speaking of breaking zones... and no I didn't plan that, he was the next name in the box. Five shots in five minutes! Well, if you make 3, you can do that. And we all know CCSU needs another outside shooter.

Mark Laporte: Shoot it!

Robby Ptacek: Like Shemik, Robby found his shot in Brooklyn.

Chris Baskerville: Very nice game inside. His only issue, at least on offense, is doing it consistently.

Terrell Allen: Not much to say here about his two minutes. He had been growing on me.

Justin Alexander: Look, I'm not in any way saying he's ready to play 20 minutes right now. But you can DEFINITELY starting to see it click a little bit.


Here's your tiebreaker procedures to help you figure out who will play who Thursday night, from the NEC. But I'll add this. As far as CCSU is concerned, it's like this as a dear friend would say.
CCSU wins: It is the three seed and hosts the six seed Thursday.
The Devils lose: Central is the three if RMU loses tonight. If RMU loses, CCSU is the three regardless of what RMU does.

Here's the rest of the list from the NEC:

Central Connecticut State
can clinch the #3 seed with a win over Long Island or a Robert Morris loss to Wagner. In that case, Robert Morris would be the #4 seed. RMU can claim the #3 seed with a win and a CCSU loss. Both CCSU and RMU will host an NEC quarterfinal game.

St. Francis (NY) can earn the #5 seed with a win over Bryant or a Wagner loss to Robert Morris. Wagner can clinch the #5 seed with a win and a St. Francis (NY) loss.

#6/#7 seed possibilities...

- If St. Francis (NY) wins or Wagner loses, then the Seahawks are the #6 seed.
- If St. Francis (NY) loses, Wagner wins and Mount St. Mary's wins, the Mount will be the #6 seed and St. Francis (NY) the #7 seed if Quinnipiac wins. The Mount can also be the #6 seed if Quinnipiac loses, and both CCSU and Robert Morris also fall. If Quinnipiac loses and either CCSU or Robert Morris win, then St. Francis (NY) is the #6 seed and Mount St. Mary's the #7 seed.
- If St. Francis (NY) and Wagner lose, and Mount St. Mary's wins, St. Francis (NY) is the #5 seed, Wagner is the #6 seed and Mount is the #7 seed.

If Saint Francis (PA) beats Mount St. Mary's, then the Red Flash are the #7 seed and the Mount will be the #8 seed. If Mount wins, then Saint Francis (PA) is the #8 seed.


Ken Horton is drifting outside again, but he's making enough of them to carry the Blue Devils, who lead at the break despite being badly outrebounded.


The Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette reports that RMU's Karon Abraham is out for the year with an Achillies injury.


Short and sweet tonight after the Blue Devils lost for the third time in 4 games.

The problem has become this: Ken Horton has gone from being able to carry a team to being forced to carry his team. As I said in the post below (sorry it took so long Matt), Horton is playing the best ball I've ever seen at CCSU on a consistent basis. But If he is asked to do it all, he won't be able to. He's Ken Horton after all, not Allen Iverson circa 2001.

Anyway, that said, Central now is locked into either the 3 or the 4. It's one home game, then a trip to the semis, likely in Hamden.

The LIU game is big for Central's confidence if nothing else. But we'll get to that tommorow. Let's suffer through this one one more time first.

Let's go man-to-man.

Joe Efese: You know what? He tried. Six boards, a block and a steal in 22 minutes. Once he figures out how to harness his natural ability and energy, he could be scary.

Ken Horton: The six turnovers can be forgiven because the Devils are now asking him to do everything. And he's delivering. 27 and 12 in 39 minutes. My only fear now is, can he make it three more weeks physically?

Shemik Thompson: His shot is gone and his confidence appears shot. But I believe in this kid, and I think he'll figure it out in time.

Devan Bailey: Maybe another turnover than you'd like, but the team had 24.

Robby Ptacek: 4-for-4 at the line. That's the only nice thing I can say about this performance.

Mark Laporte: If you're gonna get in, launch a couple young man!

De'Angelo Speech: Interesting to see if he's your starting 3 next year.

Chris Baskerville: If he could ever be consistent...

Terrell Allen: Perhaps the best game of anyone not named Horton. Three assists, no turnovers. Two boards.

Justin Alexander: Apparently drew huge raves for a sequence where he got a block and a rebound. I have a sneaking suspicion you'll see more of him Saturday.


Ok, I know this post is now a game behind, but I couldn't get to it this afternoon.
Still, I wanted to get to some questions. In the interest of time, since I have tonight's game to do too, I'm going to basically just give answers.

The only individual effort I can think of that's better than Ken vs. Quinnipiac was Tristan's 40-point night in 2008. I only go back to 2005, but Kenny Saturday and Tristan Blackwood vs. SHU were the best.

That said, this stretch of basketball is the best I've ever seen in person. Ken Horton is literally carrying a Central team that has decided to stand around and watch him grow into an all-time CCSU great.

I did ask Howie about that last play vs. QU, as I was asked about. Basically it was a multi-option play that broke down.

My own thoughts, not Howie's are that Shemik looked like he wanted to do anything but take the last shot. He could have driven but, again, this is just my opinion, looked like he didn't want to get fouled and go back to the line. As he backed up, Kenny kind of followed him and the whole thing hit the proverbial fan. I'll tell you what I'll do. Next chance I get I'll transcribe coach's whole quote on the play, because I find strategy stuff fascinating.

Robby Ptacek is more banged up than he'll ever admit. But, as the old saying goes, if you can play, you can't say you're hurt. And in his defense, he won't. I think he's just a shooter in a slump right now.

Shemik was terrible that day, he'd be the first to tell you that. But he wasn't the only one to miss free throws. There were five others, any one of which would have made a big difference.


Preview of tonight's game up, mailbag coming today if at all possible. Much to talk about including Brooks, Moore and more!

See, I made a funny there. Hope it was worth the three days of waiting!


Free throws have a cost when you don't make them.

Central missed out on a chance at the two-seed (barring a lot of help) and gave Quinnipiac all the confidence in the world heading into a potential third meeting in a couple of weeks. And the Devils did it all by missing free throw after free throw.

Is the season over? No. Central's likely still going to get at least one home game (though now the game at SFNY becomes monumentally big) and probably will only have to take a short bus ride to get to its semifinal game. It's hard to beat a team three times in one year, and if CCSU can get one from its big rival, then all of the sudden it's in the finals.

There are two people I feel badly for, and we'll get to that in a minute. Everyone else, well, they didn't get it done tonight. No ifs, and or buts about it. You have to give CCSU credit for storming back from 10 down, but that's about it.

One last point: Do not blame the officials for this game one bit. Were they bad? Yes. Horrific. But they stunk on both ends of the floor. And because CCSU was driving more, it took 20-something more free throws on the night. Most importantly, they were consistent. Howie Dickenman said it after the game, and he's right: a coach or player doesn't care if the game is called tight or loose, as long as it's called the same way at both ends and for 40 minutes. For the most part, it was.

Was Shemik Thompson fouled by Justin Rutty as he tried to get the putback to go down at the buzzer? Yup. He was also elbowed (accidentally) when he went to the ground before calling time with seven ticks left. But if you're relying on a call in the final 10 seconds to bail you out, you don't deserve to win.

Blame the refs for ruining the flow of what was, when they played, a fantastic game between two good teams. But don't blame them for the loss. And give Tom Moore credit for mixing and matching his rotations beautifully with a full roster of players in foul trouble. the Bobcats are deep, but Moore guided his team to the finish line.

Let's play what will be for Blue Devil fans the toughest man-to-man of the season.

Shemik Thompson: One of the two players I feel sick for. On his special day, he just didn't have it. Five assists and one turnover is a nice ratio, but he just couldn't make a shot. 3 of 9 at the line. Wow. I hope for the sake of one of the nicest kids I've ever covered, Thompson is remembered for the last four years and not just this game.

Devan Bailey: Was in foul trouble and didn't have much of a line, but it was better than Thursday's stinker.

Robby Ptacek: 2-for-10, but I love the way he attacked the boards late. He's good at finding other ways to help out.

Chris Baskerville: Only 10 minutes because of how well someone we'll talk about in a minute played.

Ken Horton: The other person I feel bad for. If he had made that last one, the roof would have been blown off. Still, it was a virtuoso performancA and deserving of better. If he had stolen the game, it would have gone down to one of the best games in CCSU history. It still might have been. 35 and 9 with four blocks and 2 steals.
I also love the added emotion he has played with lately. He just needs to make sure he uses it the right way. When he made the and-1 with a couple minutes left and announced that Detrick Gym was "my court", that was OK. The tech, where he taunted was not, especially in such a close game.
Still, I remember writing two years ago that when he developed a mean streak, he would be unstoppable. Well guess what? "Ticked off Kenny" has emerged, and if you play for the other team, you won't like Kenny when he's angry.
At some point about 6 weeks ago something clicked and Ken Horton figured out how good he was. No more Mr. Nice Guy.

Vince Rosario: Next year he's going to have to be a consistent bench guy.

De'Angelo Speech: I was going to say he was one of the few guys I can't say too much bad about, then I was reminded he had 3 turnovers.

Joe Efese: 4 turnovers is a problem but his offense is back. The most interesting sequence of the night was when Efese missed a hook shot after a pretty spin move, then Rutty went down the other end and just bulllrushed everyone and layed it in. Sometimes it's substance over style.

Terrell Allen: Look, he hasn't gone on a tear like Efese did last year, but he is clearly starting to find his legs. I think he's going to be a good reserve next year.


Preview is up, piece on Shemik Thompson for his senior day is up.
I think it came out well he's really fun to talk to, a really nice, smart kid.

The place should be a zoo, I'd advise getting there early. The women's game could be a tight one and will serve as a solid opening act.

It's put up or shut up time for the Devils, who have to beat Quinnipiac and have LIU fall at the Mount to have a realistic shot at the 1-seed, and need just to win to keep its grasp on the 2.

Let's face it, if Central wants to be considered a legit threat to win the whole thing in a couple weeks, it has to win this game at home.

Quinnipiac is very good, but championship level teams find a way to get this done.


The post game press conference with the players last less than four minutes, which I am 99 percent sure is the shortest of the year by far. Howie Dickenman's press conference was less than nine minutes, or a little more than half as long as usual. And the only reason it went that long was because I asked him a couple of questions for an upcoming feature.

My point in telling you all that is this: No one wanted to talk about this game. It was ugly. Central is lucky to have escaped with a win. So I'll say two things about it.

First, it got done, which is what matters, and it sets up a huge showdown Saturday with the Bobcats.

Now let's go man-t0-man so we can go right to thinking about Saturday and be done with this one for good.

Shemik Thompson: Anytime you have more steals than turnovers, it's a good night for a lead guard. He needs to find his shooting touch again, however.

Joe Efese: The good - 2 blocks and a steal. The bad - 3 to's, only 1 board.

Devan Bailey: Well, he didn't have a boring night. The intentional foul was an awful decision, there's no way around it. One's he's by you, let him score. But he made two nice defensive plays after that, which makes up for it, as does five assists and one turnover while chasing Shane Gibson around all night.

Robby Ptacek: He'd be the first to tell you he didn't have a good night, but he did make a couple big shots down the stretch. And he played 36 minutes. He's a tough kid.

Ken Horton: Considering the way he started, 1-of-4 from the floor and a shocking 1-for-4 at the line, you have to consider it a great night. He made five of his last six shots, stuck five threes in the second half, and grabbed seven boards. To be honest, I could have done without the blowing kisses routine, but he was aiming at the Central students, not showing up the opponent, so it's not a big deal. And I can tell you from personal experience he's a wonderful kid, so there was no malice intended.

Vince Rosario: I told you it was coming. Three big 3-pointers, including a sneakily big one late in the first half that stopped a SHU surge and got Central to the break in front, which was big from a momentum standpoint. His defense seems to be improving, too.

De'Angelo Speech: Solid defense and did a little bit of everything.

Chris Baskerville: Scored his points, and grabbed four boards in 15 minutes. I'd have liked to have seen more of him perhaps. The matchup might not have been a great fit.

Terrell Allen: Good close out made Greenbacker's shot at the horn that much harder.


10 minutes into the first half, Ken Horton and Rob Ptacek are a combined 3-for-7 at the line.

Also, Sacred Heart is playing good defense. Not that I thought the Pioneers couldn't play any, it's just not the first thing you think of when you think SHU basketball.


SHU preview is up. Lots to come in Saturday's paper, a preview of the game vs. QU and a piece on Shemik.
Then we're going all out for the final regular season home game.

Remember Blue Devil fans, you're rooting for Central and Wagner tonight.


1) The NEC hasn't made it official, but I can't come up with a scenario where the women miss the NEC tournament. And I had help trying tonight.

2) Blogging might be spotty for the next couple of days, I have over a million stories to write. Ok, only 500,000. So check NewBritainHerald.com starting Wed. night/Thursday morning for the onslaught.

This is a HUGE week for both basketball teams, culminating in the madness that will be Saturday, which is also Herald Day. And you thought Senior Day was fun!

I'll be coming out of an egg at halftime of the men's game at midcourt. Ok, that's not even a little true, but Saturday should still be fun. And hey, if anyone's reading this at Central, if you can raise enough money for charity, sure, I'll jump out of an egg.

For now, I leave you with this thought: You shouldn't need a special day on the calendar to remember to tell people you love them. We were all reminded pretty recently that you never know when you might lose the chance.


You know how Howie Dickenman talks about free throws almost constantly? That's why. The Blue Devils storm back with one of the gutty efforts of the year, build a lead in overtime, but can't seal the deal at the line.

In two of the last three losses, Central has suffered from a drought at a key time. Late against LIU, then OT tonight.

What does it mean? A few things. First, I'm no longer convinced CCSU can avoid a play-in game if it wins the NEC. But, of course, that is premature if Central doesn't win the NEC. First place is not lost, but Central now has to run the table and have Wagner beat LIU. I suppose the Blackbirds could lose at the Mount as well, but the Blue Devils have lost their margin for error on their end. Now they MUST beat Quinnipiac at home to have any chance at the one seed.

The season, however, isn't lost if Central winds up the two. If the Devils can take care of business at home and at least get that done, then they'd have a good chance to win two games at home and end up in the finals somewhere. If I told you before the year Central was in the NEC title game, you wouldn't have cared if the game was at home, at LIU or on the moon.
But of course, the task will be to get there. Central now will likely have a tougher semifinal game at home. The question is do the Devils win it and set up that final, or expend all their energy getting to that point and falling just short of the finals, like what happened in 2006.

If that is this team's fate, look at it this way: That year set up 2007, and this team will still be plenty loaded for next year. But to be clear, I'm NOT writing off this season by any means. Just saying that things got much tougher after tonight.

Let's take a little more in-depth look at how we got here. Time to play man-to-man.

Shemik Thompson: If Central had held on late, we'd be talking about how clutch the captain was. After a rough start, he made five threes in the second half and forced overtime with a dagger. Seven boards show how active he was, too. He was outside too much to get to the line, but you can't fault the overall effort.

Devan Bailey: This time Frankie Dobbs went off a bit. Bailey was also 0-for-5 from the floor, and had just one assist. An all-around off day in a game that saw a lot of those.

Robby Ptacek: His foot is really bugging him, but he's back to struggling with his shot. Three assists and one turnover, so not a horrible night, but Central needs him to score.

Chris Baskerville: When your biggest number is your turnovers, that's a problem.

Ken Horton: Missed a three with Central down 1 late in OT, but are the Blue Devils anywhere near the end of OT without him? 27 points, 16 rebounds. Probably went a little heavy on the threes when the twos were going in at will, but my goodness this kid is special. If he improves next year? Yikes.

Vince Rosario: One shot, one miss.

De'Angelo Speech: Two free throws don't determine a 45-minute game, but if he'd made those 2, Central is up six with less than 2 minutes left. Still, a solid defensive night and no turnovers to go with four rebounds. But four missed free throws total were huge.

Joe Efese: Hard to make much of five minutes.

Terrell Allen: 9 points, five boards, got to the line, made his freebies save for one. His best game probably as a Blue Devil.

Justin Alexander: Maybe it's starting to come. Maybe.


Obviously the Blue Devils are thinking bigger things now, but the Central men have officially clinched a spot in the NEC Tournament.


We'll label it that way since the next meeting is the very next game. We could deem it "the night Ken Horton nearly went for a quadruple-double," but that's long.

The good news from Wednesday night is that Central overcome a horrid start to win. It's going to get overlooked, but Central found itself down 10 at home less than 10 minutes in, and never panicked. This team is all grown up.

The Blue Devils probably have to run the table to get the 1-seed in the NEC tournament, but definitely couldn't afford to throw away whatever wiggle room they have with a home loss to Bryant.

Crisis averted with a 14-0 run late in the half, then a 30-8 run to start the second.

One final point: I've poked around to make sure I wasn't missing anyone, so now I feel comfortable saying this. Barring a collapse in the next two weeks, the NEC POY award race is over. Julian Boyd is a fine player, but Ken Horton is just blowing everyone out of the water.
Right now you have to call LIU the best team in the league, but CCSU has the best player.

Since we're talking about players already, we might as well get right to it.

Let's go man-to-man.

Shemik Thompson: Bad shooting night, but he passed it well, grabbed a few boards and had three steals. UPDATE: I've been told since I posted this that I'm wrong and Shemik did dunk the ball. I'd have to see it again. If so, my apologies Shemik.

Devan Bailey: Frankie Dobbs, Bailey's defensive assignment, came in averaging double-figures. He scored zero points. Bailey also grabbed seven boards and continued to show vast improvement both in his jump shot form and his willingness to take it. Throw in a steal and a pair of helpers, and it was a good night.

Robby Ptacek: 15 points on a bad shooting night because he got to the line six times and sunk them all. Six boards (though only one in the second half) and four assists to go with two steals and zero turnovers.

Chris Baskerville: Had some big points during Central's run to put it away, and finished with 11. He was 5-for-5 at the line as well. But he has to be more active on the glass.

Ken Horton: 23 points on 9 of 17 shooting, 11 boards, six blocks, six steals, zero turnovers. He didn't have an assist. Hey, I had to pick on SOMETHING, right?

Vince Rosario: Missed his only shot. He's going to get hot at some point.

Mark Laporte: Missed his shot and chance to blow the roof off a packed Detrick Gym.

De'Angelo Speech: Defensive mastery, offensive inconsistency. At least he grabbed some boards.

Joe Efese: Fantastic showing. Howie Dickenman said after the game that he has tried most everything to get Efese going, and his latest trick was to give him the silent treatment. He then added that he didn't plan to speak to Efese for the foreseeable future based on how well tonight went. 12 points, six boards and 6 of 7 at the line.

Terrell Allen: A couple of boards in seven minutes. Just enough to give some guys a break.

Justin Alexander: Do not give up on this kid based on this season. He's too big and has too much raw talent. I'm not saying he'll be the next Ken Horton, but his career is far from over.

Question for the readers

For anyone here or watching on TV: Do you think Ken Horton's reverse, wrong-handed layup early in the second half was as good a play as the alley-oop he saved early in the season?

A wild one

2 quick notes as halftime approaches in New Britain.

1) Since I've ripped the student body in the past, I have to give it credit tonight. The students, as they have been the last 2 weeks or so, are in en masse. The bleacher side behind press row is jammed to what appears to be capacity, and the chairs behind the benches are probably 90 percent full. They'll be able to shoehorn another 100 people or so in March, but that's about it.

2) Before we start talking about the NECs, however, Central better pick things up. A 14-0 run put the Devils ahead after Bryant's torrid start shooting the ball. But they still only lead by one late in the half. They appear in control, but the Devils better not act like it's over yet.

Video tonight

To answer your question Larry, yes, we're planning on having video up tonight.
It was just that one or two home games, that I know of at least.


Didn't get the chance to do a full preview for a lot of reasons, but wanted you guys to have something to chew on before the game.

First off, remember the game is TONIGHT, NOT THURSDAY.
2nd, remember it's on MSG and Cox as well as 1410/1300.

Finally, here's your Blue Devil Breakdown for what should, on paper anyway, be an easy night for the Devils. But they don't play ball on paper, so we'll see what happens.

Bryant (8-16, 6-6 NEC) at CCSU (16-7, 9-3)
What to watch for
1) Just trying to be aggressive: The Blue Devils have lived at the foul line of late, partly because of big leads and partly because they've been aggressive with the ball and earned trips to the line. When they get there, the Devils have been great. They're 93-of-114 at the line in the last three games. That's 82 percent.

2) Home cooking: Central's defense is dominant at home, where the Blue Devils have held teams to 38 percent shooting in 10 games, including five games in which the opposition scored 53 or less.

3) Milestone watch: Ken Horton could get as high as 16th on the all time school scoring list with a big game against Bryant. Shemik Thompson is 10 points behind him heading into tonight. Robby Ptacek is 68 points shy of 1,000.


I won't lie, I doubted Central tonight. The Blue Devils were 1-2 against other 3 teams in the NEC's top four and the one win was nearly an historic defeat.

The Blue Devils had lost six in a row at Robert Morris and hadn't gone 2-0 on the Pennsylvania trip since 2002. To boot, Robert Morris was trying to work its way back to the top of that pack of teams in the middle of the NEC standings in order to stay in the hunt for a home game in the NEC Tournament.

All the signs pointed to a RMU win. Ken Horton and company turned the signs around. I'll have to do some research to make sure I'm not crazy, but I think the Player of the Year debate is pretty much over, barring a late-season slide from No. 30. But he was far from alone. Robby Ptacek made shots when he had to, and Shemik Thompson had one fewer steal than RMU's whole team. A wonderful performance tonight by the men in blue.

The key now is to find some consistency. Central has had a few slip ups against teams it shouldn't have this year, but the Bryant games can't be such nights. Two routs should have the Devils feeling confident heading into, if they win the next two, the biggest four-game stretch for this team in about four years.

Six to go, 4 wins should wrap up 2nd place in the NEC.

Let's play man-to-man.

Joe Efese: Two quick fouls derailed his night. Maybe I spoke too soon about him starting to get hot.

Ken Horton: In 35 minutes he had 31 points, 10 rebounds, went 9-for-13 from the floor and 11-of-12 at the line, had two assists, a block and only one turnover. He did not have a steal. Slacker.

Shemik Thompson: Yes he had a few turnovers, but he was active as all get out. 16 points, seven boards and five assists to go with five steals. When he gets to the line, you know it's going to be a good night for him.

Devan Bailey: RMU shot 33 pct. from the floor and was 5-of-22 from three. Those are the numbers that matter for Bailey.

Robby Ptacek: Good players put aside rough nights and come through when it matters. His four-point play changed the momentum in the second half and got Central rolling. Five boards as well, which is always helpful.

Vince Rosario: Two fouls in four minutes. Yikes.

De'Angelo Speech: Very good at getting to the line and scoring once he gets there. I think he'll be back in stride by the time Quinnipiac comes to town.

Chris Baskerville: CCSU needs more than one rebound out of him. But he made his free throws, too.

Terrell Allen: He's emerging as a solid bench player. 4 boards a block and no turnovers in 17 minutes. Central can use all the depth it can get.


Preview is up. Should be a doozy tonight. Full coverage as always here on the blog.
I'll actually be away Sunday, going to the Celtics game, but then we'll get ready for a big week.
Remember, the guys are home Wednesday, not Thursday, this week.


Well, it wasn't boring, was it?
The good news for Central is that this wasn't some great tactical failure that can be exploited by other teams like the Wagner meltdown was. This was simply a case of one team getting hot and the other one saying "go ahead, we're up 30. Have fun."

The problem with that is two fold. For one, it's really easy to develop bad habits. Secondly, it's really hard to turn that switch back on once you've packed it in emotionally. Think about when you have to study for a test. Are you more likely to do it if you just get right to it, or after you take a nap?

Central gets a win, and I don't have to be a part of the team's practice today, which I have a feeling will be, ahem, interesting. The Devils better get ready to play 40 minutes for a change Saturday night, as those bad habits will hurt at Robert Morris.

Let's play man-to-man.

Joe Efese: Well, he was physical. He made up for his turnover with a steal, but that's about all I can say about his night, other than it reminded me of a story from some years ago that has nothing to do with him that I can't tell here. Someday, when I write my book.

Ken Horton: Brilliant in the first half, disappeared a bit down the stretch. I fear he's getting tired. The Central bench has to play well enough to give some guys a break. I think when Speech is 100 percent again, that will help. Was great to see him get active on defense, however, with the four steals.

Shemik Thompson: 14 of 18 at the line. 6 boards, 4 assists. Aggressive as all get out. Gutty effort.

Devan Bailey: A Devanesque effort. Nothing to complain about here, other than his foul numbers continuing to increase.

Robby Ptacek: The MVP tonight. Shot well, got to the line, sunk the free throws, had some helpers and boards, and played 39 minutes. Career high in points. Fantastic.

Vince Rosario: Boy, if only the kid would stop being so shy about shooting! Seriously, he's starting to hit them, so throw them up.

De'Angelo Speech: Central is just glad to have him back, even if he bricked a bunch of free throws. Getting him back to causing chaos and bringing energy will be big. It will also help ease the minutes for some other guys.

Chris Baskerville: 9 and 5 in about half the game. He and Joe Efese can combine to be a heck of a center.

Terrell Allen: I couldn't help notice Bruce say he's going to a be a good one after the question I got the other day about the freshmen. He certainly shows signs, he just has to get consistent about it.


Men's hoops preview is also up. The Devils have a big one at SFPA tonight. The Red Flash have been fantastic at home this year, so this one won't be easy. But if Central wants to make a run at the regular season title, this is the kind of game it has to win.

De'Angelo Speech is expected back tonight for the Devils as well.


My story on the class is up on the Herald's site, hope you'll check it out.
Overall I think the class fills some needs, particularly in the front 7, where Central is going to lose a bunch, the secondary, and at wideout. There's more coming next week.
Here's a few quotes and observations I couldn't get in. As always, Mac is CCSU coach Jeff McInerney.

Gerry Basadonna: Mac called him hard hitting and a great player.

Jalen Hill:
"We signed him last year and he had to go to prep school. Great player who's going to make plays," McInerney said.

McInerney LOVES Shawn Robinson. I actually bought it when he said he was surprised they got him. From his voice, I could tell it wasn't coachspeak.

The next wave will include defensive tackles, a position Mac says they need more of.

Jordan Kittrell has a chance to be a star at WR according to his new coach.


We should have all the names by this evening. I'll write a story tonight, then post some thoughts on here after that.


Happy to report the Blue Devil men are in Altoona, having gone through the storm as it made its way towards us.


Ok, so things got messed up a bit with the schedule thanks to snow storms number 807 and 808 of the winter, but here's the mail I promised.

I got one question about Central stopping its attack vs. Wagner during what was nearly an infamous collapse.
Howie Dickenman said just that, that they didn't attack. But I don't think he was referring to the half court offense, as the email I got asked, when Central was running clock. I think he meant that they could have driven the ball more. Sometimes when you go at a press hard, if you break it in the back court, you actually have numbers and a layup in the front court. It's not always easy to pull off, but if you can do it, that's often the best way to go. That works with long passes, too. Since Central was just trying to pass its way into the front court more with short passes, I understood wasting clock once it got there. Especially since Wagner was scoring every time it touched the ball. The mission became try not to let Wagner score more than get Central to score.
The Blue Devil players and coaches alike admitted that wasn't the right mental approach after the game. Robby Ptacek said Central was playing not to lose, not trying to win.

My question is, can Central avoid presses better this week? Word gets around the NEC pretty quickly, and I'm quite certain the PA teams have heard about the trouble Central had with the press. It's been a longstanding issue for Central going back to my first year covering the team, 2005. Not sure if it's a guard thing or a coaching thing. Or just that presses, when done was well as coach Hurley's team did it, are very effective.

Also got one from Matt, who I've deemed the 2010 E-Mailer of the year, about the intentional foul rule that played a role in the FDU win. I knew as soon as the play happened what the call would be, I even passed a note to my buddy Paul Dottino, who was doing the game on FDU radio right next to me.

I only remembered the rule because I had just seen it in a TV game a couple of days before. I want to say it was Kansas (I watch WAY too much basketball to remember sometimes what game was what). If you use your elbow to clear space either while pressured or while grabbing a rebound, and you catch the opponent's head, it's automatically 2 shots and the ball.

Matt asked what I thought of the rule, and contended that if you swing your elbows as part of your body to clear space, it's the defender's problem.
Here's the difference, and I hope this comes across well on my blog. If not, maybe we'll add some video. My goodness, I think we've just come up with an idea for a segment on the blog, probably for next year. We'll see.

Anyway, remember the principal of verticality, one of the main rules in basketball. Simply, if you're standing straight, the space from the top of your head up to the ceiling is yours. If I (the offensive player) grab a rebound or turn my body to prevent you from stealing the ball while keeping my arms within that cone from my chest to the ceiling, then any contact created is the defender's fault. If I stick my elbows out from my chest (not sideways, but forwards) outside of that cone and sweep my arms (think of how every NBA center grabs a rebound) and I hit you, that's a foul on me because I've gone outside of my cone and into yours.

That's what happened in the FDU case. The kid didn't keep his arms tucked into his chest and turn, he stuck them out and turned. (Boy I hope any of that made sense, someone please comment on here or email me at mstraubblog@hotmaill.com and let me know)

Now, here's my theory on the rule. Sports are becoming obsessed with concussions. Before I retire, every sport will require helmets. Concussions are a bad, bad thing, and players getting bigger and stronger are only going to cause more of them. The only other solution is to put weight limits on all levels of sports like they do for pee wee football. Even the "small" kids in basketball these days are jacked. Robby Ptacek could beat me in arm wrestling, and I promise you I'm a big guy. The games we love are getting dangerous for the participants, and that's why rules are being put in place to try and keep kids healthy.

Matt also added that he was concerned about the freshmen. More specifically, he asked about Howie's statement before the year that this might be the best class he's had here.
His concerns are valid in that, other than De'Angelo Speech, none of the frosh have blossomed yet. But I will say this. Shemik Thompson averaged eight points a game his freshman year.
Yes, none of these kids are near that number, but my point is, players get better. It's way too early to determine if Howie's statement is going to be true or not.
Now, I'm not defending it either, mind you. He might be dead wrong about them. My point is that, in February of their first year, we just can't tell. If any of us are still here in Feb. of 2014, I will be happy to answer this question.

The other thing I would say about comparing this group to say, Shemik and Kenny Horton, is that this team has more options. There aren't as many chances for the freshmen to shine when the three best players are all vets who are going to take most of the shots. If in two years when the CCSU version of the big 3 are gone, Terrell Allen and Justin Alexander are still not doing anything, then you can say they were busts. Let's give them time to grow, then get the ball more before we decide.

Richard, I got your question about the hoops recruits. Truthfully, with football signing day today, I haven't put much time into hoops recruits. After we get through the football signings I will. I have a really good in on one of them, I can probably even get an interview. I went to school with one of his relatives (how old am I?). But we'll get back to that later.
Like I said in the chat: The coaches can't acknowledge the kids' existence until they sign, and even then CCSU doesn't like to put much out on the until they get to practice. But we'll write some on them here.