CCSU vs. UMASS wrap

Wow, was I wrong. I went up to UMass because I actually thought CCSU was going to have another good game against a big-name opponent. The Blue Devils are getting healthy and coming off a solid effort against Michigan State and a near upset of Northwestern.
Then came tonight. An uninspired, flat, ugly beating that was more troubling because of the acceptance of that beating in the second half.
The Blue Devils cut into the UMass lead a number of times early, and were a couple of very long jumpers by the Minutemen froml being in the game at halftime.
Then the second half happened. Terrible.
So let's go man-to-man, something the Blue Devils didn't do well.

Joe Efese: Much like this team, he's maddening because he can be so good and then disappear.

Ken Horton: 16 and 12 vs. an A-10 team. He's legit. The problem is, because he missed the La Salle game, he will need two really big games next week to break the record at home.

Kyle Vinales: Couldn't shoot tonight but had two steals to just one turnover. I was surprised, this was his pace.

Malcolm McMillan: Freshmen go back and forth. No need to panic about him. That said, this was not a good night.

Robby Ptacek: Tom O'Brien gave me this great stat that is in my other bag, but it boils down to this: When Robby Ptacek shoots well and takes some pressure off of Horton, CCSU usually wins. When he doesn't, they don't. Tonight was the exception to the rule, but it was still nice to see Ptacek have a big night.

Adonis Burbage: He kept CCSU's 3-pointer streak, which dates back to 1996, alive.

Shelton Mickell: Some solid numbers that perhaps he can build off of as he works on getting back in the groove. The fact that he nicked his shoulder again is a concern, however.

Mark LaPorte: Didn't get a shot up. That could be the upset of the night.

David Simmons: I didn't make a big deal out of it in my story because it didn't matter in the grand scheme of things, but someone should be in a lot of trouble for Simmons dunking the ball and picking up a technical. for dunking in pregame warmups. Either he didn't know the rule and should have been coached that at some point in the last four-plus years, or he knew the rule and ignored it, or he knew and forgot.
Regardless of how it happened, there's no way CCSU, or any other team in America, should be down 1-0 before the game starts. That's embarrassing.
By the way, I know I come from a family of refs, but I knew that rule. I didn't see the offending dunk, but I knew something was up when I saw the refs conferring, then chatting with the coaches.

Side note: Big thanks to referee Jeff Anderson for coming over at my request and explaining the situation to me. If you look him up online you'll find a story from Rochester about him giving back to kids. Really nice guy.

Terrell Allen: Hardly got in, which I found surprising.


David Simmons dunked during pregame warmups. That's a 2-shot technical. UMass will start the game by picking who shoots the 2 T's. No time comes off, and it is not a personal foul.
Game starts as normal with jump ball after that.
Not as weird as the UConn start the other night, but pretty darn crazy.


Hope everyone had a great holiday.
I'm courtside tonight at UMass, so I'll have a more detailed breakdown after the game.
Some news while the players come out to warm up.
Shelton Mickell is expected to play, as is this kid named Ken Horton.
Still no De'Angelo Speech.

CCSU Men vs. La Salle Wrap up

Well, that went poorly.
There are better players in the country than Ken Horton, but tonight we learned that there are few who are more valuable.
Before we go any further, Howie Dickenman said he'd be shocked if Horton missed the UMass game. So don't fret CCSU fans.

Still, even without Horton, tonight's game was putrid in the first half. Yes, Central came out with new vigor and showed pride in the second half, but if it had done that early, this might have been a game, even without Horton.
La Salle is very good, but Central looked, as I said in my story, lost. I think it was in part because of how close to the game the Horton injury became official. Still, defense was non-existent, rebounding was lax and the offense seemed disheveled.
Let's break it down by playing man-to-man, then move on to a happy holiday season.

Adonis Burbage: Other than a couple of turnovers, there wasn't much to dislike about his night, especially since he found out he was starting 40 minutes before the game. He's never going to be flashy, but I like the kid for some reason.

Joe Efese: He tried, but was just outsized inside. Still, if he can get 8 rebounds a night, all will be right with the world for Central.

Kyle Vinales: The defense was a little tighter on him without Horton around. Central will have to surround him with offense in the future to ensure he has the space to fire off those jumpers. I do like that he relies more and more on that little teardrop in the lane. Just showing he can drive will free up some outside shots for him because defenders will have to respect it.

Malcolm McMillan: For the second time this season, he showed toughness coming back in the game after taking a shot. Dickenman encouraged him to shoot more tonight, and he did. He didn't make them, but again, showing the willingness to forces the defense to play up a bit.

Robby Ptacek: I think Howie Dickenman was right, Ptacek was trying too hard. That said, there will be times this year where, especially as a senior, he is asked to take over. He didn't do it tonight.

David Simmons: His field goal percentage is skyrocketing. If he can figure out how to combine that with the games where he has big rebounding nights, suddenly he'd become a force. He's like a pitcher who has one pitch going on a given night.

Terrell Allen: Nothing wrong with his effort, just didn't do a ton.

Mark LaPorte: Missed an open jumper that would have given the fans something to cheer about on the way home.

CCSU's men's basketball at Northwestern recap

Finally have a cpu and a few minutes to write.
If moral victories exist, this was one for the Blue Devils on Saturday. Central played at a Big Ten team, played two halves, and was one stop from a chance to win it.
Most importantly, the Blue Devils are healthy again, which bodes well as January and the "real" season approaches.
The one thing I'd say is CCSU has to close halves better. That's twice where a Big Ten team got momentum with a big play at the end of the half. But all in all, Central should feel good about itself after this one.
Let's see who is feeling the best by playing man-to-man.

Joe Efese: Very strong on the glass, but couldn't finish his shots. It was a theme for the day.

Ken Horton: 3-of-5 from 3-point range, 3-for-9 from two. He said it after the game, the Blue Devils left points on the table. That said, everything else was spectacular. 11 rebounds, five assists and five steals against the Big Ten's leading scorer. Active and aggressive, this is exactly how he needs to play if CCSU is around in March. Heck, even before that. If he even goes 6-for-9 from two we're talking about a 21, 11, 5 and 5 night.

Kyle Vinales: Yes he shoots a lot, but he doesn't take many bad shots at all, and he makes a high percentage of them. And he's going to get better. Horton, assuming continued good health, is going to break the scoring record next month, but you almost wonder if he'll have it four years from now.

Malcolm McMillan: I'm fine with a point guard who doesn't score, but he has to do other things if he doesn't. McMillan has done those things this year, but didn't Saturday.

Robby Ptacek: Couldn't get much going offensively. Stayed out there for 38 minutes, showed toughness, but couldn't get much on the board.

Adonis Burbage: It's funny, as soon as CCSU gets healthy, the Blue Devils shorten the bench. Hard to make an impact in three minutes, so we'll give him a pass.

De'Angelo Speech: The important thing is he's on two feet and getting closer to making a big impact again. CCSU could use the defensive help and the athleticism.

David Simmons: Came in, committed a foul, sat down, watched Efese play. A different game than the last time he played a Big Ten team.

Terrell Allen: Two blocks and some work on the boards in 13 minutes that likely would have gone to Simmons otherwise.


No, I'm not going to sing. My apologies for my absence, been working on a TON of stuff at work.
But a preview for the Northwestern game is up.
I was thinking of going back and doing a wrap on the Brown game, but it seems silly now. So I'll just say this: I think we can agree that CCSU wins that game with a full team.
Speaking of which, I'm told everyone other than Shelton Mickell is a go for this afternoon. We'll see how much, if at all, De'Angelo Speech can go.


Paul Manwaring is a really nice guy. I truly enjoy chatting with him. 
But there isn't a person associated with CCSU athletics that Blue Devils fans want to see any less than Central's trainer. Unfortunately for those fans, and even more unfortunately for the players he was working on, Manwaring was the star of the game for Central Wednesday night at Michigan State. 
On the surface, it looks like a blowout victory for the Spartans. But Central actually played incredibly well for long stretches, and showed an exceptional amount of guile and toughness. 
Even Tom Izzo said after the game that he was more impressed with CCSU than he was with his own team's play. No one is saying CCSU is better than MSU, but the Blue Devils made their mark on East Lansing. 
The Blue Devils were up big early and managed to hang around when MSU took the lead, avoiding a blowout until the final few minutes. But in the end, the Blue Devils were done in by what is the big difference between a Big 10 school and an NEC school. Depth. 
While Central's injuries mounted and Manwaring made more and more trips onto the floor, Tom Izzo spent the night rotating one impressive athlete for another. The Spartans literally caused injuries with their picks (which were clean by the way), reached over CCSU players to get tip ins like the Blue Devils weren't even there, and used speed and athleticism that Central could only match before getting fatigued. 
5 on 5, Central could have run with the Spartans all night. But the Spartans seemed to have waves of players, and the Blue Devils found themselves in physical and foul trouble. 
Give Central a healthy Joe Efese, Shelton Mickell and David Simmons for 40 minutes, and this one might have been interesting. But staying healthy against a team that big and strong is a task in and of itself. 

Let's break down a gutty effort for Central that fell short when the Blue Devils ran out of steam by doing something CCSU didn't do as much of as normal, playing man to man. 

David Simmons: With Joe Efese out with a concussion, Simmons had to handle the vast majority of the interior work. And until he cramped up, he was doing a splendid job of it. He had nine rebounds in the first half, and when he came back in in the second half, he kept trying to draw charges. Tough effort. He has definitely earned more minutes. 

Ken Horton: We said this after the Niagara game. Ken Horton can't get in foul trouble. He just can't. He's in the top 20 in the country in scoring and is one of his team's best rebounders. He can't be on the bench. 
That said, the rest of his night was a mixed bag. When he was hot early, CCSU took off. When he struggled, MSU went on its first run. He had a couple of nice drives and a couple dunks, but also rushed a couple of quick threes. Where he did stand out was on defense, getting in lanes and grabbing 5 steals. A good game, Central just could have used about 5 more minutes out of him. The good news is that his ankle appeared ok after he left with an injury early. 

Kyle Vinales: Speaking of needing to stay out of foul trouble. He was probably too hyped up playing close to home and against a big name opponent. But he didn't commit a single turnover. That's a great sign of his growth. 

Malcolm McMillan: Nothing exciting, but a solid performance on offense. Couldn't do as much defensively has he has done in earlier games, however. By the way, I wanted to mention to the commenter from yesterday that when I compared his ability to avoid turnovers to Tim Tebow, it was intended as a compliment. Tebow is very good at taking contact without fumbling. That's what I was saying about McMillan. 

Robby Ptacek: I can't complain about too many of his shots. He rushed a couple, but had a bunch where he dribbled his way to a closer, more open, shot. He just couldn't make any. Great at the line at least. 

Adonis Burbage: Got some shots up without fear, tipped some balls, generally active. But if he's going to take extra shots, he has to make some. 

Shelton Mickell: He was starting to play well before he was introduced to Draymond Green's upper body. We'll have to see how bad his shoulder injury is. And before I even check my inbox, let me clear this up now. MSU plays very physically, but in a very clean way. Green's pick was totally legal, as were many of the hits the Spartans delivered. Sacred Heart took a lot more in the way of liberties. 

Terrell Allen: He has a knack for offensive rebounding. A strong showing, though he must, must, must be better at the foul line. 


It's up, but if you can, check out the print version. Brad did a fantastic job laying it out. It looks really good and I'd like to think there's some good info in there.

CCSU vs. Sacred Heart wrapup

Well it wasn't UNC-Kentucky, but it was pretty darn good. As entertaining a game as you will see at this level was full of debatable decisions, big runs, clutch shots and physical, emotional play. One of my favorite games to watch in person in a while. Some days I really love my job. Good rivalry game. Both teams showed some toughness and skill. Can't wait for the rematch.
So let's take a look at who played well in leading Central to one of the wildest victories it has had in some time.
Time to go man-to-man

Joe Efese: One of his best games as a Blue Devil. He's really been on an upswing of late, ever since that benching. He seems to have taken it to heart. He was making shots in the lane, grabbed some boards, played good defense and stayed out of foul trouble.

Ken Horton: Remember how I've been asking for the dominant Horton and not just the really good Horton? Well the best player in the league showed up Saturday afternoon. He became more than just a jump shooter again, even driving to the basket a few times. He was an aggressive rebounder. Probably a little too excited at times, leading to some turnovers, but an involved, aggressive effort. If he can have this kind of versatility on offense all year, he will be really tough to stop. Outside shots are nice, but a little bit of everything is even better.

Kyle Vinales: Couldn't make shots like he usually does, but served as a spark plug. My favorite part about his game is that, unlike shooters in the past for Central, Vinales finds ways to help when he can't find the basket. He got some boards, a few assists, and was a pest on defense. I'd like to see a few less shots when he's struggling, but it wasn't overkill by any means.

Malcolm McMillan: Not spectacular like Thursday, but solid. He managed five rebounds and played his usual fine defense. He, like Tim Tebow, is always useful because at the very least he avoids turnovers.

Robby Ptacek: Coach Howie Dickenman called him motivated after the Bryant game, and he showed it again Saturday. He seems intent on making the most of his senior season. Some unforced turnovers, including a travel, but for the most part there's nothing to complain about about his day. Huge shot at the end and an even better pass to help seal it. And when he's at the line, especially late, I usually just write down two free throws in my notes before he even finishes taking them.

Adonis Burbage: I really like this kid. His stats are never impressive, but good things just seem to happen when he's out there. He played really well late with McMillan out. Six boards and a steal in 19 minutes works every time.

Shelton Mickell: I just feel like he needs a breakout game to get his confidence up. He doesn't appear confident, which is a problem. But as soon as good things start happening, he'll get some confidence. He just needs to avoid stressing.

David Simmons: Five rebounds and he made his only shot. Will never be a scorer, but gave CCSU some toughness, which was needed in the kind of battle CCSU had last night.

CCSU men's basketball vs. Bryant wrap

Usually I spend the first half looking for trends and strategy points to keep an eye on late. I'll write down a few plays, maybe a couple of good stats or a big run.
Tonight, I started writing my actual story with 15:57 left. In the first half.
There are times when a team gets out to an early lead and you know it just got hot, and that the game was far from over. And then there are times when a team gets out to an early lead because it is simply dominant compared to its opponent.
There was no way, at least on this night, that CCSU was losing that game. It was over four minutes in and really over when Central answered Bryant's first response with a big run of its own to break it open again. By the 5-minute mark, there was no hope for the Bulldogs.

And so, in a game that was over quickly, here's a quick version of man-to-man

Joe Efese: One half of the tag team that is the CCSU big man. He was energetic, tipping balls and being active on both ends. His stats didn't indicate it because he got a couple of quick hooks and a couple of fouls, but he was back to looking like he is capable of.

Ken Horton: I lose my right to whine that he takes too many outside shots when he goes 21 for 28 in two games. That's right, he is shooting 75 percent in the last five days. Scary stuff. Nine boards and three steals helped too.

Malcolm McMillan: 13 assists. The most by a Blue Devil since 2002. And he's a freshman. He is a non-factor in terms of scoring, but he can get everyone else involved.

Robby Ptacek: 20 points, 7-for-13 and 4-of-7 from three. Sometimes I don't need to say anything other than the stat line.

Kyle Vinales: Didn't make a lot of shots, but made big shots as CCSU was pulling away. Also has greatly cut down on the turnovers. I'm not ready to call him the next Tristan Blackwood yet, but he gets more impressive by the day.

David Simmons: Efese's tag team partner had nine points and nine boards, two steals and three fouls in 19 minutes. He certainly made the most of his time on the floor. Another energetic effort, something that can't be overstated on the road.

Adonis Burbage: Seems to be hitting his first bump in the road. He didn't do anything with the time he got, meaning he didn't get any more time.

Mark LaPorte: He got his shot up. Nice to see a kid who works hard earn a couple of minutes.

Terrell Allen: Somebody had to make free throws. I'd like to see him get to the line more. It's going to be interesting to see how the bigs have the minutes divided.

Shelton Mickell: Don't give up on this kid. He has talent. It will show. All he has to do is have the strength to wait it out.