Hope all of you had a wonderful holiday. Getting ready to go to the women's game tonight. It's pack the house night as the Blue Devils try and break their attendance record as part of an NCAA promotion to raise attendance for women's basketball.
Also will have a men's preview in the paper in the morning, then plenty of stuff after the game.
I can't believe it's conference season already. Next thing you know it will be January.


Wow. On offense, CCSU had a 10-0 run, another 10-0 run, and a 17-0 run. All before halftime.
Amazing stuff. Robby Ptacek continues to be confident, looking like a much more aggressive player who suddenly can't miss.
Ken Horton has settled into his 20 and 9 type nights. Consistent and very good, but I haven't seen him take over much. The end of the UMBC game he did, but not often. Though you could easily argue he hasn't had to.
Also, I wouldn't get too worked up over this one if I'm a Blue Devils' fan. Central played very well, but Hartford is one of the poorer teams in the country, at least right now. The Hawks are young, but they have a long way to go.
Central has work left to do as well, but let's look at the work they did today by going man-to-man.

Ken Horton: You know, now that I look at his stat line again, I have to retract some of my earlier statement. While he's yet to really dominate, he was 8-of-9 today, stopped taking as many threes, had three steals and two blocks in one of his best defensive games, and didn't commit a turnover. I'm not sure what exactly it is I want him to do.

Terrell Allen: Started in place of Joe Efese and did ok. Two steals and a block, but only one board and three fouls. Not his best night by any stretch.

Kyle Vinales: He gets marked off a little for doing almost all of his damage after the game was well out of hand, but his shooting display in the second half was impressive. His four-point play came on a three that reminded me of Larry Bird in New Orleans against the Hawks when I was a kid. When he gets hot, he's unstoppable. By the way, four assists to only three TOs. Huge improvement. And I'll give him those points back for playing with emotion and being just as happy when someone else scores as when he does.

Malcolm McMillan: Six assists, five boards and better defense. Good to see him back on track. And after that shot he took Tuesday, good to see him up and about at all.

Adonis Burbage: Added a bit of scoring to his usual versatility. Turns out he can score. Who knew? Seriously, if he can make a few shots and take some heat off, he really becomes a good energy guy. He's flirting with a spot in the starting lineup according to coach Howie Dickenman, but I kind of like him in his current role. Still, CCSU NEEDS a fourth scorer eventually.

Shelton Mickell: A second straight game where he made a helpful contribution off the bench.

David Simmons: His numbers always seem to be lower than what he brings. Perhaps the energy he provides makes him seem more productive, but he just always seems to be doing something out there so far this year.

Joe Efese: Didn't have a good start to the day (see previous post) and didn't make matters any better by turning the ball over and committing two fouls in his two minutes.

Mark LaPorte: Always nice to see him get in the box. He got everyone fired up by drilling a 3-pointer in the final seconds.


Full recap going to be up later tonight, as my home cpu works!
For now wanted to pass along the answer to a question I know is coming: Joe Efese played two minutes in part because he missed a video session this morning.


The good news is I think I have an answer to what's killing my home computer. The bad news is it might be a few days before I get it fixed. 
So in the meantime, I'll be blogging from work when my schedule allows. I'm hoping to do the UHart game from CCSU after the game so that we can get this up as quick as possible. 
So for now, let's talk UMBC, an ugly win that goes in the books as a win, which is what matters. 
Central has three kids who can score in bunches. But the other players are going to have to learn to get some of their own if the Blue Devils are going to have a big year. Three kids are better than one, but you don't like seeing the same kids have to be the answer night after night. Eventually defense will catch on. 
The assist totals were way down, but the turnovers were as well, a great sign. Central didn't rebound well, but got big ones when it mattered mot. That's the kind of game this was, you had to sift through the bad stuff to find the good. 
Let me do that for you as we go man-to-man. 

Joe Efese: Not the dominant effort of last week, but three blocks are nothing to sneeze at. Still, if he doesn't rebound better he will lose playing time quickly. Way too many fouls, too. 

Ken Horton: I'm starting to think he's going to average exactly 21 and 9. Far from his best effort, but he was huge down the stretch when it mattered most. 

Kyle Vinales: He shoots a lot, but not too much, if that makes sense. He's a volume shooter without being a ball hog. The key here is how much he cut his turnovers down. 

Malcolm McMillan: Played poorly, but showed some toughness by getting up after taking a shot to the head. 

Robby Ptacek: Another hot and cold kind of night, but another clutch effort when CCSU needed him. Eight of nine at the line is another big number. 

Adonis Burbage: Made a three, giving CCSU another shooting threat. Didn't have a lot of numbers, but continues to fill minutes. 

Shelton Mickell: Didn't hurt the Blue Devils with turnovers. Had a steal. Not a big night, but a steady effort. The fewer mistakes the freshmen make, the more Central can win. 

David Simmons: The player who stands to gain the most if Efese's minutes were to go down. Three rebounds in five minutes is a nice ratio. 

Terrell Allen: Three huge rebounds late, two offensive rebounds off missed free throws. Those are the little things that win games. 


De'Angelo Speech will either miss tonight's game with that shin problem we spoke about or he plans on playing in a sweatshirt and jeans.


So my home computer wouldn't let me do this last night, so I had to wait until I was done with work tonight to get to this, since it takes me a little longer to do these than quick posts.
So we'll do this tonight and do football final thoughts on Monday.
The offense looks good, and for the first time so did the defense. There's still too much fouling going on, but there were enough positives to make me forgive that for a day. Love the way the ball is getting moved and the personality of this team not caring about who scores the points. Wrote a little about that tonight.
Have a few things to mention about specifics, but I'll do that in the individuals.
So without further adieu, let's go man-to-man.

Joe Efese: Got "mean" as coach Howie Dickenman put it, and became the beast inside we've known he can be for a while. 2 things: 1) Can he ever do it consistently? 2) Can he ever start making the little jump hook he has with any regularity? If yes on both, he's a 10 and 10 guy.

Ken Horton: Has yet to be the leading scorer, is still getting 20 a game. I love that he is so unselfish, but I don't want to see him become strictly a jump shooter, either. Mix in some other offense and he goes back to being the unstoppable Ken Horton. But I'm nitpicking about a kid averaging 10 a night. He didn't rebound as well Saturday, likely because Efese was doing so well at it.

Kyle Vinales: Two things come to mind immediately, one easy to spot and one you might have missed that I caught because it happeend right in front of me.
First, is that Vinales found a way to contribute when other guys were shooting well. We learned that not only can he be a distributor, but he doesn't mind doing so. That's big. He didn't sulk about only taking six shots. He had seven assists (though the TOs remain high). As for that subtle thing? He threw a pass to Robby Ptacek who made a jumper right in front of me. Vinales then pumped his fist and celebrated as though he had hit the shot. And this is a compliment. He was just as excited that Ptacek had made a big shot as he would have been had he hit it. Great to see.

Malcolm McMillan: Only took three shots, but picked his spots well and hit two. He had seven assists to one turnover. And he had five steals. A really strong performance, and more than enough numbers to make up for not scoring much.

Robby Ptacek: Remember when I complained he was being too quiet? 31 points shut me up for a day. I still wish he was a little less streaky, but he added five boards to his day and played well on defense. He couldn't have been much better.

Adonis Burbage: Didn't play a big role on this day, but I still like him. He's going to be a good utility guy at the very least.

Shelton Mickell: We haven't seen too much of him yet. He hasn't shown what I'm told he's capable of, but he's three games into his CCSU career. No reason to panic.

David Simmons: Efese took a lot of his minutes, but he gives CCSU the depth it very much needs up front.

Terrell Allen: The other player who took minutes from Simmons. Two blocks and a steal to go with five boards. He was a presence inside and an energetic one at that.

De'Angelo Speech: Shin splints kept him out of this one. Don't think it's a long term thing, but not sure he'll play Tuesday or Saturday. Better to rest him now than have it become a longer-term thing.


Robby Ptacek might have gotten sick of being left out of the stories of late. He's up to 6-for-9 from the field.
Ken Horton is 5 of 7, including 3-for-5 from 3.
Kyle Vinales today has all of his usual turnovers (5) and none of the points (ok 3 points).
I'm not knocking him, he's been great, but turnovers without pointswill find him sitting next to the coaching staff soon.


Sitting courtside at the men's game, will post some halftime thoughts. So later tonight we'll go man-to-man here and then do some football breakdown as well.


Hope you'll pick it up. Big thanks as always to my boss, editor and friend Brad Carroll for his work making it look good.


I just got done with many hours of writing. Brad Carroll is going to do his magic and make it look good. Hopefully you'll enjoy my picks and breakdowns. I'll let you know when it's coming out.


Well, the water was really pretty.
The freshmen learned about Niagra Falls and what it's like to play on the road.
Some of what we've seen from the frosh has been spectacular. Some of it was frustrating. Such is life for a team that wheels young players in an out of the game so often.
You'd like to see the older kids step up, and one did, but you also have to let the freshmen learn. This team is going to be much better in March than it is right now. But the trip there will be wild.
In bursts, Central was amazing Monday night. For other bursts, the Blue Devils were maddening. It's hard to even point to the 19-point lead because of how early it was and how quickly it was gone, but those are hard to come by and should be treated with better care.
Again, a brilliant and maddening effort all in 3 hours.

Let's see who was what when by going man-to-man.

Joe Efese: Seven boards and five fouls shows he was throwing himself around. The offense might be starting to come back a bit as well.

Ken Horton: Another 20 and 9 night. He also demonstrated he can take a backseat when another player is on fire, as Kyle Vinales was tonight. Few stars are willing to turn into Robin when someone else is wearing Batman's cape. Horton should be commended for that. However, with Vinales having fouled out and Central in a dogfight, Horton can't foul out with a minute left. I don't want to hear good call or bad call there. He has to be there when his team needs him. Everything else about his night, however, you'll take.

Kyle Vinales: His 39 were a freshman record at CCSU, the fourth-highest point total ever, and the most since Tristan Blackwood scored 40 on RMU in 2007. Vinales was 11-for-16 for 29 points.
At halftime.
At one point, if my notes here are correct, he led Niagra 23-16.
The kid makes free throws, and obviously is oblivious to the pressure of DI basketball.
The turnovers might cost coach Howie Dickenman his hair this year, and I've only seen a player commit three fouls in four minutes unintentionally maybe two other times in my life. But if he's going to keep scoring like this, you just hope the bad goes away with experience. I won't be as hard on him about the fouls because he's so young, but he should want to stay on the floor while he's shooting like that. Dickenman went back to him earlier than I thought he would with four fouls as well.

Malcolm Mcmillian: Played most of De'Angelo Speech's minutes, and with six boards, five assists and two steals, you'd think he might again Saturday. But 4 points and 5 turnovers make me doubt it. But again, good signs.

Robby Ptacek: The only starter not to foul out, I was expecting him to go off in overtime. But it wasn't to be. Still, 16 points and 7 boards and much more involved in the game tonight. Much better.

Adonis Burbage: Not many numbers to show for his 20 minutes (save for four fouls). But he does some good things out there. Perhaps he becomes an energy/glue guy type in the future.

Shelton Mickell: There's the freshman I heard so much about. It was only one spurt, but you started to see some of the promise from him tonight.

De'Angelo Speech: Got quite a wakeup call tonight. Defense can only earn you so many minutes. Ask Devan Bailey.

Mark LaPorte: Good to see him in the box. He works hard and deserves mention on occasion.

David Simmons: He wasn't bad, but if Efese is going to be tough and grab rebounds to go with some points, it will become harder for him to see the floor. At the very least I like him as a backup.

Terrell Allen: In the same boat as Simmons, though I wouldn't read too much into any one night's minutes. If you haven't noticed, they tend to change.


I'll have a full recap tonight. Preview is up, game underway. If Kyle Vinales can avoid turnovers..... watch out.


Ok folks, loyal followers should remember how this works. Some quick thoughts, then my favorite feature of the entire blog.

The first thing to keep in mind when looking at the first game of the year, especially with a young team, is that you can't read too much into it. The Blue Devils will be a much better team in March than they were Friday night, and Friday night's team wasn't bad. The trapping defense was excellent for the most part and the Blue Devils did well on the glass against a significantly bigger team. Some of the freshmen showed great promise, and David Simmons looked to be a much improved player.

There were also some bad things. The offense was stagnant at times, and the shot selection was surprisingly poor at others. I know Howie Dickenman says this is a good 3-point shooting team, but taking good ones is the key to making that shoot-at-will approach work. 3-for-14 from three doesn't cut it.

Also, during the key stretch of the game, Yale's 20-5 run early in the second half, Central missed some easy shots. Robby Ptacek's 10-footer  and a hook in the lane by Joe Efese come to mind. I'm not blaming those two players for the loss, but using those shots as examples.

With that said, let's go man-to-man.

Joe Efese: Five boards in 20 minutes. It was a tougher performance, but he must get better offensively. He's not a young guy anymore, it's time to put it together.

Ken Horton: Dickenman said that anytime Horton fails to shoot when open from three, Horton is hurting the team. Tonight, he couldn't help from long range, going 1-for-8 from three. I'm not a jump shooter, but his form appeared off tonght. It wasn't the usual smooth motion, it looked like his timing was off. Perhaps that's why his shots were short. I'd still like to see him get some more mid-range jumpers as well, maybe one or two steps in from that open three for an open 17-footer.
But, here's how good Ken Horton is: His bad game was 21 points, 9 rebounds, 4 blocks.

Kyle Vinales: The main reason I began my post by talking about keeping an even keel. Vinales is going to do some amazing things this year, But he's also going to do some incredibly frustrating things. Vinales showed the explosiveness to be able to turn the corner in the weave, made some outside shots, and showed the type of moxie one has to have to be a floor general. And he makes free throws.
He was also a defensive standout, flying all over the place for five steals. Loved the energy he provided.
The seven turnovers, however, are a problem. Those will come down, especially since a couple were on dropped passes and the like.
My main point here is don't expect this every night. He's going to have bad games as well.

De'Angelo Speech: I love his defense and his energy, but he remains a man without a true position. I still see him as more of a spark plug than a point guard. But since I just told you not to overreact to one game, I can't.

Robby Ptacek: Just didn't quite seem into the game. Didn't do much else besides shoot, and didn't take very many shots. Also, only 1-for-2 at the line.

Adonis Burbage: 4 points and 4 boards in 10 minutes. I really believe you'll see more and more of this kid as the year goes. I like his presence. Good things just seem to happen when he's out there.

Shelton Mickell: He was active, putting a few numbers in every column of the stat sheet. Didn't quite seem comfortable. Not saying he was nervous or scared, but he didn't seem comfortable. That will come. His skill is obviously there.

Malcolm McMillan: This year's innings eater. If he can make some shots, he can be more than that.

David Simmons: Welcome back Mr. Simmons. Some rebounds, a new jump shot we haven't seen out of him much, and a block. Also, he made two fantastic long passes, including one from his stomach that traveled some 30-40 feet and hit Vinales in the hands for what turned into a big 3-point play. I'll be interested to see if he gets more minutes as the year goes.

My proposed starting lineup for the Niagra game: Vinales, Ptacek, Speech, Horton, Simmons.


Monmouth wins the Pks 4-2, ending Central's best season since 2007. More on this and a busy weekend throughout.
I'll have a full breakdown of the men's hoops game later tonight.


Now time for the most unfair, even if most exciting, tiebreaker in all of sports.


Heading to double overtime in Fairfield. 1-1.


By the way, the game is on CPTV Sports, which used to be CSTV All three games will be shown live and again tommorow on tape. (And knowing this channel, on a loop for the rest of time).
But it's on live now, so if you're home you can watch Hartford vs. SHU, which, b the way, has fancy new unis.


The Blue Devils just tied the game in the second half. It's 1-1.
Sacred Heart lost the first semi to FDU.
About 15 minutes left in regulation for CCSU.


I have a bunch of questions regarding all the conference shifting that I'll get to soon, but for now let's get a couple timely ones out of the way.

1) Dave Simmons is a Blue Devil. Chris Baskerville is not.
2) CCSU will not be playing FBS football. I can all but guarantee it.


First off, here's the link to the men's soccer team in the NEC semis. They're down 1-0 nearing the half. You can watch the game for free here.

Second, basketball season is finally upon us. Accuscore thinks CCSU has an 87 pct. chance of winning tonight at Mohegan, but remember that is based mostly off last year. CCSU has the best player on the floor, which makes them the favorite, but I don't think it's nearly that big.

As for the women, I think you have to give it time. They won't be at full strength tonight, and even if they were, you have to let such an inexperienced team gel a bit.

Turning the page to hoops.

I'm going to have a game preview in some form or another, but we're going to hold off on the basketball preview section until the home opener. The storm changing the high school tourneys has made a mess of a lot of things.

For now, some random thoughts, and if you'd like hit my email at mstraubblog@hotmail.com and I'll do a mailbag. Already have some in there to take care of from football season.

I'm going to pick CCSU in the top 3 in the preview section (where? You'll have to read!)
Ken Horton looks phenomenal, but will have the defenses going after him like never before. Several coaches at the CT 6 breakfast the other morning lauded about Horton, which means the defenses will be all over him.

There are two big keys to the season as I see it. One is getting the freshmen to gain their footing. Howie Dickenman plans on playing a few of them, and birdies keep telling me Shelton Mickell is the real deal. Dickenman is trying to rein him in a little, but he gives CCSU some explosiveness, particularly useful if he can be a driving option in the weave. The other two freshmen will compete for time at the point. It sounds more and more like De'Angelo Speech is going to be the PG, so we'll see how that goes. Love it on defense, need to see it work on offense.

The freshman I really like is Adonis Burbage. He's big enough for the wing and while he doesn't do one thing incredibly well, he does a lot of things well. Someone I trust compared him to Javier Mojica. That is obviously WAY, WAY premature, but in a body/game comparison I can see it.

The other key to the season: Robby Ptacek's feet. If his lower body allows him to have a big year, The Blue Devils can be very good offensively. If not, a somewhat deep team gets not so deep.

Overall I think you're going to see substitutions in waves, especially early in the year. The freshmen will be in and out and the bigs  I'm guessing will be used interchangeably in the post.

So in short, here it is: If CCSU finds a point guard, gets one freshman to contribute and 2 more to chip in, and makes its outside shots, this is going to be a big year.

Central wants to run and pressure, so expect high-scoring games this year.


A much-needed win by the Blue Devils Saturday, who got big performances from the older guys when they were needed most.
The concern it leaves me is this: Other than kind of changing the mentality of the younger guys heading into the offseason, which I think is a big deal, the fact that much of the talent we saw have big games Saturday will be gone next year is scary.
Chris Tolbert will have a new line in front of him, but he has shown flashes of being the next big time CCSU running back. But a rebuilt line and a still unnamed quarterback
Coach Jeff McInerney has admitted he doesn't have an answer for next year behind center. But as scary as the future might be, it was nice to honor this year's seniors at Central with a big win.


CCSU wins for the first time since Sept. 17, 31-24. More later.


CCSU recovers the onside kick with 2:06 left.


The RMU backup goes 67 yards on three passes, the last a 27-yard strike to TE Paul Evans cuts it to 31-24 with 2:07 left. the drive took 33 seconds.


Juan Duque's 31-yard FG with 2:46 left has CCSU up 31-14.
But RMU just hit two quick passes vs. the prevent defense.


Bristol's Eastern's Tyrell Holmes just picked off Layman in the end zone, returning the favor from the first half when the Colonials did it to CCSU, Central has it back and is in very good shape, up 28-17 with the clock now heading for 8 minutes.

CCSU FOOTBALL LIVE BLOG: Central breaks it open

A 14-yard score by Brian Fowler has Central up 28-17 just 36 seconds into the fourth quarter.


CCSU has the lead adn is at the RMU 25 as the third quarter ends. The Blue Devils are threatening to end the streak.

CCSU FOOTBALL LIVE BLOG: battle for position

A great punt knocks CCSU back to its own 25, but the Blue Devils have the ball and the lead.

CCSU FOOTBALL LIVE BLOG: Blue Devils driving

A Chris Tolbert 16-yard rush, then a 22-yard catch by Deven Baker sets up Raul DeBenendittis from 5 yards out to give CCSU a 21-17 lead with 3:47 left in the third.


CCSU avoids a huge momentum swing, holding the Colonials to a 3-and-out.
6 minutes on the button left in the third. 17-14 RMU


Gunnar Jespersen was just picked off in the end zone by RMU's Antwan Smith with just under eight minutes left in the third. RMU ball at its own 20, still 17-14 RMU

CCSU FOOTBALL LIVE BLOG: Rmu's drive stalls

The Colonials don't get anything from their first drive. CCSU takes over and is already at midfield.


RMU QB Jeff Sinclair done for the day (knee). Of course, Matt Layman looked amazing at backup.


He just made a huge defensive play, crushing a CCSU receiver on the last play of the half.
17-14 RMU at the break.
Gunnar Jespersen is 9-of-13 for 112 and a score in the first half. Chris Tolbert has 55 rushing yards on 12 carries.
Deontae Howard is 10-for-67 for RMU. Matt Layman had that great drive for the Colonials, who lead 17-14 at the break.


RMU backup Matt Layman looks like he should be a starter. He's 2-for-2 for 42 yards on RMU's return drive. RMu is to the CCSU..... well they're in now. Jamie Cobb makes another circus catch for a 14-yard TD catch with 39 ticks left in the half. Layman was 4-for-4 for 61 yards on the drive.
17-14 RMU


Dave Sabilia, an OL and TE makes a 5-yard TD catch to put CCSU up 14-10. It's his first catch of the year.


RMU hits a 33-yard FG (Gary Langer) to make it 10-7 with 4:47 left in the half, but the bigger news is that RMU QB Jeff Sinclair left the game with an injury on the previous play. Looked like his ribs or chest from up here. We'll see if he comes back.

CCSU FOOTBALL LIVE BLOG: RMU threatening again

Central missed a couple of deep shots, and now the Colonials have it back and are driving thanks to a 19-yard run by Howard that has them set up. Sinclair jut picked up about 25 more (yes, the QB ran for 25 up the middle) as RMU pulls it to the CCSU 16 or so. 5 minutes and change left in the half.


RMU goes 80 yards on 8 plays with Jamie Cobb making a pair of nice catches for a total of 35 yards after Howard's run. QB Jeff Sinclair scores from 7 yards out to make it 7-7 with 10:51 left in the half.


CCSU punts early in the 2nd. Still 7-0. As I was writing, Deontae Howard just ruan it 23 yards, RMU 1st down at its own 43 early 2nd.

CCSU FOOTBALL LIVE BLOG: Do or do not there is no try

RMU doesn't make a 4th down in CCSU territory. CCSU ball at its own 31.


If my quick research is correct, Central's last lead was the first quarter of the UMass game on Oct. 8.


One play later, Brian Fowler scores from 9 yards out. CCSU leads 7-0 with 8:41 left in the first


RMU goes 3 and out..... then fumbles the punt! CCSU ball as I was writing this!
It was a bad snap on the ground that the punter couldn't handle. CCSU ball at the 9

CCSU FOOTBALL LIVE BLOG: Bad finish to the good start

CCSU doesn't make a 4th and 6 from about the 25 and RMU takes over.


The Blue Devils have already hit a 26-yard pass and converted a 4th and 5 on the opening drive. They have it at the RMU 28 just over 3 minutes in.


Touching moment to start senior day as the Blue Devils honored Rich Royster.
Now the rest of the seniors are being introduced. It's likely that the kick is a few minutes late.It's a TV game and this is going on for a while.


we'll have it up and running during the game Saturday. Then I'll try and sit down Sunday if I get some time on my off day to catch up on a bunch of notes and thoughts.


Just wrapping up the call, and the thing that jumps out at me is that coach Howie Dickenman is raving about his freshman class.

Usually I would say "what is [coach X] going to say," but with Howie, you get the truth as he sees it. If he wasn't happy with the freshmen, you'd know it.

Want proof? He's very unhappy with his big men, saying they were weak compared to the perimeter players (meaning in production I assume, not in actual strength). He implored Joe Efese to step up. We'll see.

More to say in a bit.


I'm on the conference call now, will have a story later, but here's the top 4 in the NEC coaches preseason poll:


Preseason ALL NEC

Julian Boyd LIU F
Kenny Horton CCSU F
James Johnson Quinnipiac G
Wagner G Tyler Murray
Jamal Olaseweer LIU

No surprises so far.