Breaking down what Central can take out of a trip Indiana (and a tough loss)

One side note before we begin: Dear Big Ten Network, please feel free to cut away from the game that's a 10-point lead with 20 seconds left in order to get to the start of the next one. Thanks.

First, as a basketball fan, just tell me when the IU-Duke game is. I'm in. If they put it on PPV, I'm buying. Duke has the best resume as of today, but Indiana has the deepest and best offensive team n the country.

As Central found out Saturday night, the Hoosiers can play defense, too.

IU coach said his staff had the Hoosiers down for some 50 deflections during their rout of Central. It make sense, as the Hoosiers seemed to be everywhere on defense. We all knew how good Cody Zeller was, but Victor Oladipo had himself a bit of a coming out party, dominating the game at both ends.

CCSU coach Howie Dickenman said after the game his team had no answers for Indiana. As good as Zeller is, it wasn't the post game itself that had IU in control but the Hoosiers' ability to get the ball inside almost at will. Central couldn't stop the ball from being thrown inside and on the other end, threw too many balls into the hands of defenders.

In the Blue Devils' defense, there were defenders everywhere. Between the defense and the way the Hoosiers always seemed to have two guys on the other end of the floor after a steal, it seemed like there were 8 Hoosiers on the court at once.

Of course, the bulk of that defense was used on Kyle Vinales, who the Hoosiers focused on by rotating defenders to always have a fresh man on him and using more than one guy at a time at some points. Yes, part of the problem was that he was playing a different level of opposition, but he appeared to be rushing his shots. He took some too early, and even seemed quick on his open looks. Perhaps he was pressing on the grand stage, or maybe the defense made him get too quick. Whatever it was, I wouldn't expect to see it again. I'm not saying he'll score 40 at Syracuse, but I think he'll find a comfort level in big games going forward.

Speaking of people finding comfort levels and scoring 40 points, Matt Hunter became the third opponent ever to drop 40 on the Hoosiers at Assembly Hall. He did it with a dominant second half, scoring 26 and hitting some ridiculous shots. He went hard to the rim early, the made jumpers as the game went on. It was an impressive, in control attack that furthered Hunter's offensive emergence.

His game also put the NEC on notice. Put too many resources on stopping Vinales and Hunter can be  deadly. If the two continue to work on becoming a dynamic duo, Central will be fine going forward. Who knows, Central might get another chance at IU down the road.

Mat to Man

I know, I've been away, but let's do this for history's sake.

Adonis Burbage: Didn't make many of his threes, but managed a couple of assists and a steal.

Joe Efese: Other than hoping he'd have grabbed a couple more rebounds, it's hard to ask him to do more against Cody Zeller. He's really on the way to a breakout year I think.

Kyle Vinales: Was just trying too hard I think. I think he can handle the big stage, he just wanted this one too badly. But he didn't take too many shots, letting the hot hand have the ball, and had a bunch of assists.

Malcolm McMillan: Was a little quick to take jump shots in this one. If he can make a couple he becomes a huge asset to the offense. But if he's not hitting, he should shoot as a last resort. Shots on drives are fine, jump shots not as much.

Matt Hunter: Became the 3rd person to drop 40 on the Hoosiers at Assembly Hall. Even more impressive, he shot better than 50 percent from the floor. Even more impressive, he had only 4 turnovers while having the ball that much.
Now you're going to tell me, they lost by 40, who cares? I do, for this reason: His confidence has to be sky high after this one. If he can stay hot tonight, he might really take off.

Andrew Hurd: Dickenman talked about getting more kids involved, and this is a good example. Give him 5-8 minutes a game.

Erik Raleigh: Really nice to see him get on the court. Maybe by next year he'll be a contributor. He's a wonderful story.

Terrell Allen: He won't be in foul trouble playing that way against the NEC.

Brandon Peel: I'm really, really high on this kid. He's going to be a big contributor inside for this team going forward.

Breaking down Central men's basketball's gutty win over UNH, and why Kyle Vinales is so good

Or as we'll call it, the "Ok KV3, now you're just showing off" edition of the blog.

I say that in jest of course, as Vinales, despite his flashy approach to the game, is not a show off. Sure he'll celebrate after a big shot, but he's honestly just as happy if someone else makes a big shot.

And there were some of those for sure.

My coworkers and I go out to eat once every couple of weeks to do some bonding and talk shop. Tonight we were discussing our All-Herald teams,which will be in the paper in a  few weeks. During dinner, a discussion about onions developed.

Up in Durham, they were on display.

Central had no business winning this game at New Hampshire. Routed early and still down big in the second half on the road, the Blue Devils clawed their way back into it, then displayed the kind of clutch play they showed early during the winning streak and didn't bring to Hartford. It's the kind of gutty road win that can spark a team, especially because of the number of players who stepped up. We know Kyle Vinales is an amazing scorer. The kid leads the country in scoring. Not the NEC, the country. But he's even better when he has help.

The Blue Devils lost their first two games in part because Vinales felt he had to do it all. He talked to me about pressing after the St. Peter's loss and how he knew he had to trust his teammates. They gave him plenty of reasons to trust him.

No, CCSU didn't win this one solely because of Vinales, though he was huge when he had to be. It won because of Vinales, Malcolm McMillan, Joe Efese, Matt Hunter, defense, and an order of onions.

Let's break it all down by playing man-to-man

Adonis Burbage
He did a bunch of Adonis Burbage things. He played the whole game. He made some threes. He grabbed some rebounds. He had a steal. I like that he knows his role and executes it.

Joe Efese
Speaking of knowing your role and executing: 7-for-10 from the floor and three offensive rebounds works most nights. You'd like to see him get more boards and fewer fouls, but he did a lot of good things, including making big free throws late.

Kyle Vinales
Let's see, in 40 minutes, had made half the shots he took, 60 percent of the threes he took, all but one of the free throws he took, had seven assists and stole the ball three times. I haven't confirmed if he drove the bus home after the game, but I think he's going to fly the plane to Indiana.
What made this effort impressive, however, was that he scored his 27 points without having to take 25 shots. Gone are those early season days when he has to force the ball up. Sure, you want him taking every big shot he can, like the one he hit to start Central's second-half surge or the under the radar big shot he made at 60-59 to give Central the lead back after UNH had reclaimed it. Instead of letting the Wildcats get any kind of momentum back, Vinales made a shot, hit Burbage with a pass for a three, then later scored four in a row to ensure a dramatic finish.
But he didn't need to take every big shot. He has figured out how to pick his spots, and done so in a shockingly short amount of time. He can now take over without trying to take over, if that makes any sense. In other words, he just finds spots to explode rather than trying to be a one-man show.
If his legs hold up, he's going to put up video game numbers and Central is going to win a good amount of games.

Malcolm McMillan 
Gee, he only played 38 minutes tonight. Slacker. In all seriousness, what else can you ask this kid to do. He has now added the ability to score in key situations to his arsenal. His turnovers and assists were flipped from what they normally are, but he made up for it by scoring more.

Matt Hunter
He has done it. Matt Hunter has taken away anything I could complain about. The kid makes his free throws, limited his turnovers Wednesday to three in 35 minutes, scored 18 points and had eight rebounds. Impressive display.

Andrew Hurd
If he could ever give Central 5 minutes or so a night and help guard against foul trouble and/or buy the guards a rest, that would be HUGE for this team.

Terrell Allen
It's hard to get minutes for "TO" when Hunter plays this well and Efese is on his game. Still, he makes the most of what he gets, and is ready to step in when asked.

Brandon Peel
See Terrell Allen.

Lots of thoughts on the NEC reportedly being set to lose Quinnipiac and Monmouth

Yes, I know, it's been a while. There's a collection of things from CCSU I have saved up I wanted to touch on, and was actually going to do it all Friday but got quite sick and couldn't.

Anyway, enough about me, let's talk NEC for a minute. This is going to shake out over time and we can't do too much speculating right now, especially with the news so fresh. Lots of people I respect in the media and outside are just finding out about this. Since I know Mr. Paxton, however, let's consider this report as fact, particularly for the point of this blog.

UPDATE AS I WAS TYPING THIS: The league sent me this statement from commissioner Noreen Morris:

"The issue of conference realignment continues to garner much speculation and rumor from both traditional media and social media sources. The Northeast Conference is not immune from such speculation. However, at this point in time I have received no information from our members schools or the MAAC to corroborate the latest rumors."

A few random thoughts in no particular order.

1) No I don't think CCSU is going to another league anytime soon.

2) Since the MAAC is losing one member (Loyola) in a couple of years and gaining two (QU and MU), the league will have 11 for basketball. That would suggest the potential for another admission down the line. This isn't over.

3) Since the NEC doesn't have to worry about a football championship game, it could just stay at 10. Since they'd have to add 2 and I can't think of any obvious replacements, it might just do that. It's just funny, I always thought the Pennsylvania schools would be the ones to leave, or maybe the Mount.

4) Obviously not surprised Quinnipiac made a move, it hasn't been a secret they've been trying. I am surprised about Monmouth. Not that the program couldn't, they have a great new hoops arena and are good at several other sports, but to the MAAC was a surprise because I'm not sure where the Hawks play football now. Perhaps they even stay in the NEC for football, though that probably wouldn't be anyone's first choice at this point.

5) If this is true, there's no way to spin it as a positive for the NEC. For basketball you lose two programs with nice buildings and an up-and-coming program on the court in Quinnipiac. For football it's a bigger hit with Monmouth leaving and Albany already gone, you lose some big names, though Monmouth hasn't won the league since 2006. That's part of why Duquesne was a nice get for the league. The NEC has done a lot of changing in recent years in football, so more wouldn't be a surprise.

6) I remain fascinated to see what happens with the CAA, which continues to not make a lot of sense geographically, which is a bigger deal at lower levels than it is for the big boys who don't care about travel budgets and things. 

7) I mention that to mention this. Eventually, I still believe there's going to be a big shakeup among the smaller (and non-big football) schools in the Northeast. I don't see the Big East lasting long term as a mishmash.

Those Big East teams and perhaps the northern CAA teams are going to need leagues. Other than my ongoing efforts to remarry those teams and the AE, I'm not sure how that's all going to play out. My best guess is there will eventually be a couple of new leagues, or leagues which currently exist but will look nothing like they do now. 

8) This is the least important, but since it involves something I was blogging about forever before it started and something I think is a great thing for the state, it's worth mentioning. I wonder if the CT 6 can keep going. I think playing at campus sites is a fine way to go with it, but the schedule will obviously have to be tweaked. CCSU and SHU can't play in it, and now QU and Fairfield can't play. 

For scheduling sake I think you could put Hartford on the "NEC" side" and have CCSU, SHU and Hartford rotate against Yale, Fairfield and Quinnipiac. 

Or, as Hartford coach John Gallagher mentioned after CCSU lost to Hartford last month, a Big 5 type of schedule could be created. There's no reason all the teams can't play in basketball. There's certainly enough dates. 

9) From a basketball standpoint, the schedule would be a lot more fair with 10 teams for the NEC. You play everyone twice for 18 games. No one can say, well they played this team twice. It just works better. The problem is you a lose a good program in Quinnipiac and a historic member in Monmouth, which by the way, hosted the first NEC football game. 

The southern NEC schools can still schedule Monmouth and the CT schools can get games with Quinnipiac, but it won't feel the same. 

10) This whole thing, at all levels, is just sad. I get the point, to make more money. I don't begrudge anyone for doing that. Quinnipiac has made big, big investments in its programs and deserves to go up. Tom Moore, who I've grown to have a ton of respect for during long conversations over the last few years, has done a great job building his team on the court (ask UConn). Monmouth is doing what is best for it and moving up. The Hawks also built a nice new building. 

In the Big East, teams got out to make sure they didn't get left out (again, ask UConn). Other big leagues went to 12 so it could have a championship football game and some teams moved from league to league for better TV deals. It all makes sense. 

That doesn't mean it isn't sad. I grew up when leagues were based on historic and geographic rivalries. Now they're based on money and or survival. 

Looking back at a bad day all around for the CCSU men's basketball team Saturday

I'll have more on the Central women playing in Texas and what the Shelton Mickell news means to Central in the big picture a little later, but for now let's focus on a depressing afternoon in West Hartford after Central's surprising 80-77 loss to the Hawks.

First the good news. With this group, the Blue Devils are never out of a game which is reasonably close. As Kyle Vinales started shooting Central back into this one late, a colleague of mine decided he could score 6 points in a possession. I turned to him and said if he pulls this one off, they're going to start telling Kyle Vinales stories like they tell "Johnny Football" tales in Texas.

But while I was one more 3-pointer away from starting a Kyle Basketball story about the time I saw him beat a rival on the road, the key point here is he never should have had to. Not on this day. Both he and coach Howie Dickenman were honest about their team's lack of intensity in this one.

I chalked it up to a team which knew it had beaten its rival by 30-something last year but forgot that most of the team which did that was gone. This team is capable of doing something similar, but needed to do more than just get off the bus.

Central just got outworked in this one. You can live with Hartford shooting the lights out and Central struggling a bit, but the way the Hawks were flying around getting rebounds and loose balls was the disappointing thing. Central just didn't want this one as much as the Hawks did, and it showed. Hartford wanted payback, and Central wanted to go back to sleep.

Things like allowing an offensive rebound to the one guy from the other team in the lane on a free throw with the game in the balance can't happen.

If you're a Central fan, you hope this is just a wake up call and a game which is just a footnote in the story of the season. Whatever it ends up being, let's document it for the record with a quick game of man-to-man.

Joe Efese
He struggled with his shot, but did well on the glass. He couldn't do much about Mark Nwakamma, but I feel like a lot of people in the America East won't, either. And actually, with the exception of points scored, he played him pretty evenly. And part of that is Central has someone else who does the scoring.

Adonis Burbage 
Shooters go through cycles, so I wouldn't worry about Burbage long term. Still, you'd like to see him do a bit more in the other phases of the game while his shot isn't falling. He usually does, so I'll just chalk this up to a bad day.

Kyle Vinales
There's only so much you can ask the young man to do. He struggled at times, but ended up better than 50 percent from the floor and darn near stuck a couple of threes late which would have gotten Central back into it. 32 points and only 3 turnovers in 40 minutes is still a heck of a day. As Howie Dickenman pointed out after the game, which I hadn't given much thought to this year, Vinales is on a pace to smash Ken Horton's all-time scoring record at CCSU. Smash it.

Malcolm McMillan 
Just as impressive is what the point guard is doing. I can't stress enough how hard it its to play 40 minutes and commit one turnover while being the main ball-handler, and do it while playing defense the whole time. This effort wasn't great on defense, but generally speaking he's a tough defender. Also, his offense as he promised before the year, is steadily improving. This backcourt has a chance to be special by next season, and it's darn good now. That is, if they don't collapse from exhaustion.

Matt Hunter

A fantastic all-around effort. Six big free throws down the stretch to keep Central alive, 8-of-9 overall, 22 points, 12 rebounds, three steals and a block in 35 minutes. And, to me most important, just two turnovers. Really a strong showing.

Terrell Allen 
Strong work on the glass in 19 minutes and provided some energy on a night when it was needed. He's in charge of doing a lot of the dirty work inside, and he does a good job of it on most nights.

Brandon Peel
He had two nice putbacks and probably deserves more than the five minutes or so he's been getting of late, but I'm not sure which of the bigs you'd sit to get him in. If only he played guard.

CCSU men's basketball wins third straight in dramatic fashion, this time in OT

First, your stat of the night. Take out Central's big win over Brown and the Blue Devils have played four other games this year. In those four games, the total point differential is four points. CCSU lost by one and by three and won by seven and tonight's 1-point overtime win over UMBC in Baltimore.

I think one thing is clear about this team. Their games are not going to be boring.

Another interesting character trait has emerged: The Blue Devils are showing some guts. Or maybe it's poise. Whatever you want to call it, Central has overcome adversity of late in a way it didn't during the first two games of the season, when the Blue Devils let leads get away and didn't execute late. During this streak, however, they have answered challenges with big shots and even bigger defensive plays.

Tonight's adversity was provided by a UMBC team better than its record, which pulled in front of Central numerous times. In each instance, however, the Blue Devils stormed back, including being down four late in regulation and five in overtime. The extra session itself came from adversity, since the Blue Devils never should have been there.Joe Efese missed a bunny at the buzzer which would have won it. Then, Central was down five in overtime. The Blue Devils were tough mentally and physically, however, and found a way to get it done.

Let's break down how it got done by playing man-to-man

Adonis Burbage
He shot the ball poorly, but made a big one late in regulation as Central made a rally to keep the game alive. Also, he had zero turnovers in 43 minutes. You'd like to see him do some more little things like grab rebounds when his shot is off, but he avoided big mistakes other than missed shots and almost went the distance in an overtime game.

Joe Efese
For his sake, you have to be happy Central won this one so the focus can be on how good Efese was before the missed layup; He had four blocks and six rebounds while continuing to shoot well. His foul issues started to creep back in, however. That's something which he must avoid going forward.

Kyle Vinales
It wasn't quite Jake Taylor, but "KV3" got up 26 shots, making just 11. Here's what makes the kid tough, however. He has no memory or conscience of any kind when it comes to shooting. After struggling all night, he had five points in 46 seconds during the rally in regulation, then scored five in a row in overtime to erase a 5-point hole with under a minute to go. Oh, and two free throws down one with five seconds left in OT to win the game aren't bad, either.
He'll shoot the Blue Devils into some holes this year, but he'll shoot his team back out of most of them.
By the way, I'm totally ok with "KV3" catching on as his nickname since that's what I write in my notes whenever he hits a three. Someday I'll post a shot of my notes from a game. It will be my highest-viewed blog since the scientific community will get involved to decipher the writing.

Malcolm McMillan
No turnovers in 41 minutes is a heck of a night for a point guard. Everything else is gravy. Seven rebounds, four assists and two steals is some tasty gravy for the men in blue.

Matt Hunter
He's this close. Most of his line is wonderful. 11-of-20 shooting. Eight rebounds made him tough inside, and four steals show him again to be a defensive presence. He's averaging more than three steals a game. The problem is he has given almost all of them back with 22 turnovers. He had six Tuesday night. If the game slows down for him just a little bit, Central will be in business. In the meantime, if he does everything else this well, CCSU will take a couple of miscues.

Terrell Allen
A solid, stat-stuffing night of minute-eating. He was like me at the McDonald counter. He got one of each.

Brandon Peel
He was good on the glass but struggled with turnovers. He'll be up and down a bit, but the ups will be higher than the downs are low.

Next up, a return to West Hartford Saturday, this time to play the Hawks themselves, who lost to La Salle.

Handing out some congratulations for teams around the NEC

First, hats off to the Central women's volleyball team for making it all the way to the NEC final and giving unbeaten LIU all it could handle.

And congratulations to the Blackbirds, who ran the NEC table and deserve the shot in the NCAAs.

We're also about to find out where Wagner is going in the FCS football tournament. There's some talk about Albany as an at-large, but I don't see it. There just aren't enough spots yet.

As for basketball, Sacred Heart beats Stony Brook and Central beats La Salle. Then Quinnipiac puts forth an all-time performance against a UConn team which, while not great, is better than people realize with everything going on around the program.

Tom Moore makes his team believe and manages to make a bunch of guys play together, allowing him to used his depth well. That was evidenced by four Bobcats being in double-figures Sunday. Don't be too quick to take this as Quinnipiac's statement as the NEC's best (just think of every time a 14 beats a 3 in the NCAAs), but do take it as a sign the Bobcats are good and the NEC is underrated.

I can't help think of how much a win would have helped the NEC's RPI, but QU still deserves congratulations.

What a weekend.

CCSU men's basketball picks up big victory at La Salle

Central would have been fighting Sacred Heart for the honor of best NEC win of the day before Quinnipiac went and made all the other results of the night insignificant in comparison without even winning. The talk of the NEC being on the way up was confirmed Sunday, a day the league badly needed after a bad start to the season which featured missed opportunities to win big games.

The Blue Devils didn't miss their chance Sunday, heading down to Philly and coming back with a big win over La Salle. Not only was it a win over an A-10 school, but it was further evidence that the Blue Devils are no longer a one-man show. Kyle Vinales was good, but it was everyone else pitching in, especially late, which made this one so nice for Central.

If you consider Central should have at least split the first two games, having leads in the second half of each and the ball in the air at the end of both for either the win or a tie, the Blue Devils have to be thrilled with where they stand considering how many questions they had coming into the year.

You can't get too excited about Game 4 of the regular season when there's 25 to go, but you're allowed to enjoy this one if you're a CCSU fan. Let's look at who made it possible by playing man-to-man.

Adonis Burbage
Let's see, 7-of-8, including 5-of-6 from 3-point range, five boards, two assists and only one turnover while playing the entire 40 minutes. Not a bad night. At some point, someone is going to start guarding him a little more closely, which will only free up others.

Joe Efese
Foul trouble was all that kept him from a big night. Five rebounds in 28 minutes isn't bad, and his shooting percentages have been fantastic. Most importantly, he has handled himself beautifully through an incredibly difficult time of late.

Kyle Vinales
The good: 23 points, 3 assists and 2 turnovers. The bad: He's still making some hurried decisions late in games, though he is clearly starting to minimize them, which is a great sign. It's going to be fun to watch him grow up as the year goes on. The other bad sign: He's consistently playing 40 minutes. Howie Dickenman has to find a way to get him a couple of minutes of rest here and there. Maybe the last minute of the half or 2 minutes on each side of a TV timeout. I'm not saying he needs to play 25 minutes, but 35 would be a nice change.

Malcolm McMillan
His best overall game as a Blue Devil. He did a little bit of everything, including nailing a late jumper which sealed the win. His three steals and two blocks were indicative of his defensive work, and he didn't have a turnover in 38 minutes. Just a wonderful performance.

Matt Hunter
Did the light go on Sunday afternoon? Hunter had just one turnover in 34 minutes on offense and was his usual strong defensive self, getting three steals and a block. If he can bottle that effort, he doesn't have to make a lot of shots to be effective.

Terrell Allen 
Not a lot of stats to speak of, but he ate up some minutes so the starters didn't have to play all 200 themselves.

Brandon Peel
See Terrell Allen.

A few things to cover ahead of a big day for CCSU athletics

I'll wrap up the whole weekend tonight, but wanted to put a couple of things on your radar for now.
First, the men start in a few minutes. You can find my preview online or on twitter, which, thanks to Brad Carroll, is on the right side of the blog. I watched him do all that coding himself.

Also in that box, a good read if I do say so myself on the Central women, who have come a long way in the eyes of Jen Rizzotti, who knows a lot about this stuff.

Third, the CCSU volleyball team looks to slay some demons and win the NEC title when they take on LIU in Brooklyn. It's a tough task, but the prize is a bid in the NCAAs and the team's first NEC title.

The game is free on NEC Front Row.

CCSU women have big game with Jen Rizzotti's Hartford Hakws tonight

This could be a really interesting for the Blue Devils. The women are playing really well and are still looking to build their program the way Rizzotti has in Hartford. (There's a LONG way to go, don't get too excited).
As I said before the year, I think the Blue Devils were way too low in the NEC preseason poll, and if they can win this one they'd be able to fly themselves down to Texas without the benefit of a plane.
This is kind of a free one for Central. If the Devils win, it's big. If they lose, no harm done.
If the last time Hartford came in is any indication, this could be a fun game with lots of people in the stands and a great atmosphere.

CCSU men's basketball breakdown after the Blue Devils' first win of the season

I don't mean this to sound like "oh I'm a great writer," but I think I summed up last night's win over Brown in the lead to my story.

For a half, Central dominated without Kyle Vinales much offensively, which was a great sign for a number of reasons. Not only did it give the team a little confidence, which it might need on a night when Vinales is struggling or hurt or in foul trouble, but it helped Vinales know he doesn't have to be the man for 40 minutes.

When they needed him to be, however, he was.
Last night, 20 minutes was fine, and the three or so in which he single-handedly took the game over were special. His comment after the game about letting the game come to him was rather telling I think. That understanding will be key to the Blue Devils' season. Vinales told me the other night during the women's game he was trying not to press as much. Last night he picked his spots, and in the process put forth a masterpiece.

I know Central gave up more than 64 last night, but the defense wasn't bad. Brown knocked down too many open shots, but a lot of them were covered as well. The defense didn't hit 77.7, but I still think it's a good defense.

Now, let's dig a little deeper by playing our own man-to-man.

Adonis Burbage 
The quintessential Burbage night. 4-of-6, 3-of-4 from three and four rebounds. As long as he fills the other stats on nights when he's not scoring, he'll be a big factor. I admit I was wrong about starting Terrell Allen over him. Allen likes his role off the bench and Burbage is thriving.

Kyle Vinales
What else can you say? In the first half when other players were hot, he had 4 assists and allowed himself to slip into the background a bit. Then, when his teammates were starting to falter, he took off his jersey to reveal his Superman costume, scored 10 in a row and won the game. As impressive as his streak was, his management of the game was even better. It's one game, but if he has figured all this out in three games, Central is about to go on an upswing.

Malcolm McMillan
Seven assists, one turnover, six rebounds, 37 minutes. Those numbers make his offense irrelevant really. If he scores on top of all that, great. If not, that's fine, too. He's a point guard. You young readers might not remember an era when the point guard wasn't asked to score 20 points a night.

Joe Efese
He's making his shots, which is a good sign. Eventually he'll need to rebound more, but I'm not going to say a single negative word about him right now considering the fact that he's on the floor at all despite all that's going on in his life. As I wrote last week, the kid is an inspiration.

Matt Hunter
If he makes a bit higher percentage of his 2-point shots, he'll be a star. Of course he has to cut down on the turnovers, we've talked about that before. But six rebounds and six assists to go with 17 points despite the other issues is an impressive night.

Erik Raliegh
Great to see him get in the game. He's another good story. Someday he might be able to help.

Terrell Allen
The team's new 3-point shooter. Ok, probably not, but he'll now have the confidence to take a couple here and there. The key will be not to overdo it. I don't think he will. More important, he talked last night about enjoying his role off the bench, which is more important than you think If he likes the role, he'll be more effective.

Brandon Peel 
A little bit of everything last night. He's become a nice piece off the bench who can help add to a thing big-man rotation. That will be big since Central doesn't have a lot of numbers. De'Angelo Speech's return is still a ways off, so the Blue Devils need him to be the seventh man.

CCSU basketball teams collecting donations for Operation Christmas Child

If you're coming to the women's game tonight or the men on Thursday bring crayons, coloring books, toiletries (toothbrushes, toothpaste, combs), socks, hats or small toys such as bouncy balls, playing cards, toy cars, stuffed animals, etch a sketch, school supplies to support a good cause. 

Here's full details from CCSU's web site.

CCSU men's basketball drops another heartbreaker at St. Peter's in the final seconds

It's only two games. That's what the Blue Devils and their fans have to tell themselves after the first three days of the season.

While no team wants to be 0-2, there are plenty of things to like about the Central men so far. There are also some troubling signs. Monday night's 64-61 loss to St. Peter's showed a little of each.

On the plus side, Central's defense has a chance to be pretty good. The Blue Devils also seem to have found a rotation early this season, and it will eventually get stronger with the addition of De'Angelo Speech. Also, with Kyle Vinales, Central will never be out of a game, as he can get hot at any moment.

The other players are mostly young guys who will continue to improve, and this feels like a team that is going to be pulling for one another, which can only help. The Blue Devils are a Vinales miss from two overtime games in two tries, so they have certainly been competitive.

With all that said, there are things you have to worry about. First, that rotation I mentioned is awfully short. I covered a team which won the NEC by basically playing six guys, and it was a special group for sure. There was, however, a reason it was special. You don't have to play all 13 guys, but 7 might be pushing it, especially with how much Central is going to run. Vinales and Malcolm McMillan each played 40 minutes tonight. That's scary, especially with McMillan's leg issues last year.

Secondly, living by the 3-point shot is fine if you make them. Lots of teams have won games taking a bunch of threes. Not that many have won when shooting 22.2 percent from three as Central did Monday. Central got to the line a little more Monday, which helps mitigate bad shooting nights, but the shots have to start falling.

With the big picture covered, let's dig a little deeper into what went right (and wrong) Monday by playing man-to-man.

Adonis Burbage
I'm still very high on him, but this wasn't a great night. He struggled with his shot and committed a couple of turnovers, which weren't balanced with many steals this time. There were also three fouls. On the bright side, he had his usual one of everything on the stat sheet. An off night. He'll be a factor for this team for sure. 

Joe Efese
He wasn't as good as he was the other night, but he did some good things. He's making his free throws and is being aggressive offensively. He also threw in a block and an assist. If Central is going to get things straightened out, however, Efese is going to have to be a big part of the solution in the rebounding department. Four in one night just isn't going to cut it. 

Kyle Vinales
He spent quite a bit of his night at the foul line, which was great to see if you're a CCSU fan. Being able to score 24 points on a night where you shoot 7-for-17 overall and 2-for-9 from three is an impressive thing. Central has to find a way to get him a couple of minutes off per half, however, or his legs are going to be gone by January. When his shot starts to fall more consistently, watch out. He's going to put up some numbers. 

Malcolm McMillan
I like that he has become more confident with his shot and his offense as a whole. He had some nice drives against Fairfield and has worked hard on his shot. In order to become the total package point guard he has the potential to become, however, he must do better than 1-for-7. I know three of those were threes, and he doesn't have to score 10 points a game. He does, however, have to be a bit of a threat to make defenses play him. More important for an old-school true point guard, he has to be better than even in the Ast-TO ratio. 

Matt Hunter
He continued to be a stat-stuffer Monday night, the problem is not all the stats were positive. Six turnovers in particular stands out as a problem. Defensively he continues to be a force, recording two steals and two blocks. But if he's going to be the second option, he must start scoring the ball more efficiently. If he can cut down on the turnovers, make a few more shots and keep doing everything else he has been doing with his defense and energy, he can be a star. 

Terrell Allen
He was missing for too long the other night, and he did well with his new-found minutes Monday, scoring 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting and grabbing three rebounds while blocking two shots. I have a feeling his minutes are only going to go up from here. He's going to be a big part of Central's frontcourt this season, especially if he keeps playing like that. It will be interesting to see if Howie Dickenman chooses to spread the floor with Burbage more or go a bit "bigger" and play Allen more at the four. 

Brandon Peel
Speaking of guys who are earning more minutes at the four, I really believe Peel is going to be a bruiser for Central for a long time. He had six rebounds (four offensive) in 22 minutes Monday and had two steals while making two of his three shots. I probably spoke too soon before I compared him to Dave Simmons since it has only been two games, but he seems to be on his way to being that type of player. Other than a couple more fouls than you'd like to see, I have nothing bad to say about him so far. 

CCSU now plays at home Thursday night. I'm looking forward to seeing what this team does at Detrick Gym. This team has a chance to be a fun, scrappy group. 

Fire the engines as we go Man-To-Man after CCSU basketball falls to Fairfield

Ok, forget the reasons/excuses about where I've been, let's get this blog fired up again.

Big thanks to Brad Carroll for the redesign, so now that it's hoops season again it's time to put it to use.

Let me start with some quick thoughts, now that I've seen the team a couple of times. I'll have more after this week hopefully, but here's some quick thoughts.

First, Central's defense was outstanding Saturday night. As Howie Dickenman said after the game, if the Blue Devils defend like that, they'll win a lot of games.

The new offense was what you'd expect: fluid at times and not so at others. Central, as promised, got into its running game whenever possible. Kyle Vinales is going to score a ton of points this year but he has to remember not to force things. There are other players who look they can take the burden off him, and he needs to remember that and not get too wild.

Let's take one last look at the opener before tonight's Game 2 with a game of man-to-man.

Adonis Burbage
Nobody leaves Adonis Burbage in a corner! Ok, bad movie reference, but the point is valid. He was left open in the corner and made Faifield pay with a bunch of threes. Also took one from the top at the start of a break. Not my favorite shot, but it shows a confidence he didn't have a year ago. He also had three steals and did his usual little things. He has a chance to be a real contributor. Think Shane Battier. (No, he's not that good, I'm just trying to give you a style comparison.)

Joe Efese
Less than a week after his return to the team after losing his sister, Efese was fantastic. As aggressive as I can remember him, Defensively he was very good, and if he can be near 10 and 10 that would be a huge boost for this team. Whatever he does from this point out, that inspired effort was great to watch. Also, three offensive rebounds.

Kyle Vinales
The sophomore is going to be a star, but he must make sure he doesn't overdo it. There's a difference between confidence and overaggressiveness. To be fair, there were only 4 or 5 shots out of his 23 which were bad ones, but that's the battle Vinales will have with himself all year. Getting to know him and watching him play last year, I don't think he's the kind of kid who just wants to shoot at the detriment of the team. He'll find a balance.

Malcolm McMillan
A steadying force who MUST stay out of foul trouble. He's too valuable to the team. That strikes me as his only big flaw right now, especially since his offense seems to have improved. If he can just score enough to keep the defense honest, it's a game-changer.

Matt Hunter
Something clicked for him with about 10 minutes left, and he emerged as the second option. he's a great athlete who will be a big part of the running game. His baseline drives will be a trademark if the Fairfield game is any indication, but he has to read when to drive and when to understand there are too many people in the way. That will come, too. His defense was very good as well, and he got in the rebounding battle. If he makes his shots, he could be a big player.

Khalen Cumberlander
Made two free throws late, a big deal for a freshman. Not enough of a sample size for a great read, but he showed poise and speed.

Terrell Allen
I wanted to see more of him since I think his energy can help inside, but Hunter kind of ate into his minutes a bit, as did the last man on the list.

Brandon Peel
Seven strong minutes in which he showed flashes of David Simmons.

Checking in from the Spiro Center for CCSU basketball

Up and running. I'm at the foul line on the end CCSU is warming up on. The CCSU students are currently gathered behind that basket, a bus full strong from what I'm told. Kaizer and the CCSU band are in the building as well.

Been told that every ticket in this building is sold.

Press row is literally inches in front of the bleachers on what would be the near side if you were watching on TV, so if this court gets stormed I'm a dead man.

The Blue Devils seem to be in good spirits. Certainly no fear. They were singing and rapping along with the arena music.

The stands across from me are full 25 minutes before tip, great sign for the energy of the night. This should be fun.

One stat I left out of my preview: While CCSU is 0-6 in true road games in NEC tournament, the Devils are 6-2 in NEC playoff games in this building.

We shall see.


He did in fact break his nose, but will play Thursday night.
I'll do the Boyd-Horton Breakdown as soon as I can, trying to lick this cold before Thursday.

Quick update

Horton on first team, Vinales Rookie of the year, Boyd (LIU) unanimous player of the year.
Could have easily argued for Horton, but tough to argue against Boyd, if that makes sense.
7 of the 10 guys on the NEC two team are back next year. Great sign for a rapidly improving league.


Just wanted to check in boys and girls. Been dreadfully sick this weekend, haven't had time or strength to do the extra blogging.
Besides, I'm not sure what of the Wagner game. Were they trying? Did Central just blow the doors off them because of senior day? Can Ken Horton be any hotter?
Will Central ever be able to deal with the press Wagner can unleash? Will Dan Hurley every break it out before the end of a game when he's down 20?
As you can see, I don't even have enough answers to give you any good opinions on what I just saw.
I will, however, give you my thoughts on the NEC teams/awards tomorrow.


This one's easy. I predict CCSU will win every game the rest of the year in which Ken Horton scores 39 points.

With that said, a quick man-to-man.

Ken Horton: Oh, I forgot the six steals.
Terrell Allen: Howie Dickenman said he wasn't happy with any of his centers, but TO was active at least.
Kyle Vinales: 11 assists, has proven willing to let others do the shooting. He's going to be a good one.
Malcolm McMillan: Just doesn't do anything wrong.
Robby Ptacek: 17 and 5 usually works.
Adonis Burbage: Nothing personal, but fans in the building were upset to see him come in, since he denied them the chance to see Horton get 40.
Shelton Mickell: Will make a big play before the season is over I predict.
De'Angelo speech: The game was too tightly called for his defense to be a factor. That's not a knock at the refs, just the way it was.
Mark LaPorte: Had he scored, they'd be looking for the roof of Detrick Gym.
Joe Efese: I thought he played pretty well myself. Too many fouls, yes, but lots of good things.
David Simmons: The "other" senior, Simmons will get his due Saturday.

SFPA Wrapup

Sorry for the delay, had some medical stuff to take care the last couple of days.
Big one tonight, preview is up. Long story short Central has played well in PA over the last couple of years, and if it can play defense it can win again tonight.
But first, let's review an ugly win in which Central got going late, then almost let it get away by playing man to man.

David Simmons: If he takes his shots, he can score well.
Terrell Allen: Part of a trio that can be a good big man for Central.
Kyle Vinales: Struggled with his shooting, but had a couple of steals to make up for the TOs and balance everything else out.
Malcolm McMillan: Played well when he could be out there.
Robby Ptacek: Might have saved the season with his effort. Ya, he had a ton of turnovers, but so does Jeremy Lin and no one seems to mind.
Adonis Burbage: Not much to see here.
Shelton Mickell: Ate up some minutes at least.
De'Angelo Speech: A brilliant defensive game. Great energy.
Joe Efese: If he'd have made some free throws, he'd have had a great night.
Ken Horton: What a gutty effort. He was more banged up than I had thought,but he found a way to contribute. I wouldn't be shocked if he got tonight off, but we'll see.


It's still early, but all indications seem like he's going to be OK. Crisis averted.


First, the update you're all going to be asking for. I saw Ken Horton on my way out of the building. He was with his family, and it was way too early medically speaking for any substantive answer, but I can report that he was standing fine and in as good of a spirit as you can be in after that loss and that fall.
It wouldn't shock me if he misses a game, but I would doubt that he misses significant time if any at all.
Then again, I'm not a doctor, so I'll let you know if I hear anything different on that. He could wake up in the morning feeling much differently.

Now, about the game. As I said in the story, this was actually an encouraging day. Central played hard and reasonably well. No, the shots weren't falling, but the rebounding was there and the team showed the kind of grit and determination that was sorely lacking for much of the last few weeks. Maybe Wednesday was a wakeup call. If you're rooting for the Blue Devils, you hope it's not too late.

That said, like I mentioned in the story, it was also a crushing loss because you just can't have your offense go  that badly. It just can't happen. Your best player can't be 3-for-18 without more than one person picking up the slack and expect to win. Part of it is luck...I think Malcolm McMillan's shot is still on the rim... but 1-for-20 is never good. That's what Central was over the last 10 minutes.
Now, with all that said, I could see this game  going one of two ways. First, the Blue  Devils could use this as the beginning of a turnaround, go no worse than 2-2 the rest of the way and get a decent seed in the tournament. Or, this could be the gut-wrencher that breaks their spirit, they lose out and don't make it. I think it's option A, but I've been wrong before.

Let's go man-to-man:

David Simmons: Only 4 minutes, so tough to gauge. Others stepped up in his spot.

Ken Horton: I got the sense that before the game he decided he was going to put the team on his back and get them out of this funk. So, since I've been asking him to do that all year, that's an encouraging sign. The execution of that plan was not good, however. I have a feeling he's putting too much pressure on himself these days and pressing. All that said, however, 3-for-18 just isn't good enough from the player of the year.

Kyle Vinales: He showed up and tried to carry the offense. It was an odd role reversal where I thought he should have shot more.

Malcolm McMillan: Not a bad game at all. A good drive, seven rebounds, four assists and no turnovers. He's going to be a good one.

Robby Ptacek: 3-for-11 from the other veteran leader is no good, either. He didn't get to the line, and he didn't much else to make up for his lack of scoring like he often does.

Adonis Burbage: Changed the course of the game late in the first half and stopped Quinnipiac from blowing it open (the six missed FTs from the Bobcats helped, too). I'm not sure he's ever a stat guy, but he'll grow into at least a sixth man.

Shelton Mickell: His time will come.

Joe Efese: I don't think I've been as perplexed by a player in my seven or so years on this beat as I am by Joe  Efese. Some nights he seems like he's not even there, and some nights he's fantastic, like he was today. He always fouls too much, but everything else was terrific today. If they could ever bottle "Good Joe", Central would have something.

Terrell Allen: Made CCSU's only shot in the last 10 minutes. Holy cow. Played well the rest of the way as well, especially with Horton on the bench with foul trouble

CCSU men vs. Quinnipiac wrap up

44 points. Central scored 44 points.
As bad as the offense was, the inability to get stops was most troubling. Every time Central cut into the lead and made it a game (it's hard to imagine that this was a 7-point game in the second half), the Bobcats went on a big run to pull away again.
I wish I could tell you I knew the problem. If I could, I'd be a hell of a basketball coach. The team just seems beat down right now. Perhaps that commenter below is right: CCSU just needs a win to get a little positive energy going. Right now, there's nothing positive.

Quick man-to-man

David Simmons: If he doesn't rebound, he doesn't bring much. Grit only goes so far.

Ken Horton: He's the best player in the league, but Central needs him to play like it.

Kyle Vinales: If he limits turnovers, I can forgive a bad shooting night. But the A/T ratio has to be higher.

Malcolm McMillan: His fatigue level is the biggest symptom of De'Angelo Speech's injury.

Robby Ptacek: Earlier in the year I said he disappears too much. He has shown up lately. He just needs some help.

Adonis Burbage: He was active. No one shot well tonight.

Shelton Mickell: Only 1 turnover.

De'Angelo Speech: Perhaps we'll never know what this team would have been had he been healthy for all of it.

Mark LaPorte: Him hitting a shot would have been some solace.

Joe Efese: Literally all zeros in nine minutes. Staggering.

Terrell Allen: Nice to see him back in the rotation a bit.

CCSU LIU quickie

I'll get to a full breakdown as soon as I can, and we'll look at the week ahead soon. For now, however, let me just say this: It's hard to beat anyone when you give up 95 points.


A much, much better effort, but outside shooting (on both ends) continues to be a problem.

Quick man-to-man as we get set for a huge one later today (by the time you read this) at LIU

David Simmons: Not as good as last week, but the numbers don't usually show how important he is.

Ken Horton: Got after it on the glass, but still isn't shooting enough for my liking.

Kyle Vinales: That will never be a problem for Vinales. Usually he'll make more than that, too.

Malcolm McMillan: At the very least he rarely hurts his team. For a freshman, that's a bigger deal than it sounds.

Robby Ptacek: Played his tail off. Five assist, 50 percent shooting and 1 turnover will work most days. If Horton or Vinales had had a better game, it would have combined with Ptacek's to produce a win.

Adonis Burbage: Seems to have tailed off after a couple of really good games.

Shelton Mickell: No clutch free throws this time.

De'Angelo Speech: As long as those minutes stay up, the rest will come.

Joe Efese: So much better. Got boards and stayed on the floor. Everything he's supposed to be.

Terrell Allen: Two non-nondescript minutes.


As I work on getting caught up on a million things, let's take a quick look back at the FDU game before getting ready for a huge 72 hours.
Preview is up online.
Back to the FDU game, an ugly win but a win. By the way, how did I do on the radio? Big thanks to Marc Robbins for guiding me along.

Man to man time.
David Simmons: Fantastic effort. Did a bit of everything, and hustled harder than anyone on the floor. He's like the fourth-line winger who brings the energy and physicality.

Ken Horton: Scoring has been down the last couple of games, but had three steals and two blocks.

Kyle Vinales: Really developing some point guard skills to go with the shooting touch. Was mentioned tonight by Dick Vitale as one of the underrated freshmen in the country.

Malcolm McMillan: Starting to look worn down, which is a big reason Vinales playing some point is so helpful.

Robby Ptacek: I used to be able to shoot free throws like he can. On my PS3. If he keeps getting chances, Central is fine.

Adonis Burbage: Not a great day.

Shelton Mickell: Two of the biggest minutes of the year. Coming in ice cold and catching a pass and making two at the line to ice the game is NOT easy. Glad for him to have his moment.

De'Angelo Speech: It's coming.

Joe Efese: Got called for a foul every time he stepped on the floor. Ugly night.

CCSU men vs. Monmouth wrap up

Wow. Pick a negative word and it applies. Awful. Embarrasing. Terrible. They all work.
Too often this year CCSU has played down to its competition. Usually, the Blue Devils have gotten away with it. Tonight they did not.
A bad, bad, bad, bad loss that could have big repurcussions. Howie Dickenman, who took some shots at himself tonight I will write about for Saturday's paper, needs to find a way to get this team motivated for the not so big games.
I was talking to someone tonight, and I suggested that the two-seed is still possible because I think, having watched this team this year, that CCSU will actually play better when its schedule gets harder.
That said, it's hard not to point out that the Devils should be 7-2 at worst in the league, and probably 8-1.
Let's play a quick game of man-to-man. Note the only encouraging sign from tonight: I'm going to say nice things about the bench guys.

Ken Horton: Raised his game down the stretch, but struggled mightily early. Not sure why he hasn't taken the last shot in either of the last 2 losses. Not saying he'd have hit either one, but if I'm Central, I want the game in the hands of the best player in the league.

Terrell Allen: Got after the offensive glass, but didn't do much else.

Kyle Vinales: Was asked to play some point guard late in the game as CCSU searched for offense. Had a rough night, but his effort was there. He was one of the few who didn't seem half asleep at times.

Malcolm McMillan: Plays defense, made a couple of nice plays on offense. He's a glue guy.

Robby Ptacek: Seemed on the verge of putting it together a couple of times, never quite could.

Adonis Burbage: His numbers don't tell the story of how well he played. A key part of the run that I thought was going to win the game. He's not as good, but he kind of reminds me of Shane Battier.

De'Angelo Speech: I think he needs to play more to shake the rust off.

Joe Efese: I actually thought he did some nice things. He just needs to do more of them.

David Simmons: As long as he's in his comfort zone, the guy doesn't miss. It's almost to the point where they should run stuff for him. Not a lot, but some.

CCSU men vs. Sacred Heart wrap up

The season is not lost, but this was a tough one to swallow for the Blue Devils. It was close all the way, but Central had seemed to take control until the last three minutes, when it picked a terrible time for a drought.
Ken Horton had an amazing game, but didn't take over down the stretch.
As for the last play, I always liked calling a timeout once you get to half court, then setting up a quick-hitter shot for the win. I totally understand the argument of avoiding letting the defense set up, but I'd rather be organized on offense.
Central won't win the NEC unless it either gets consistently strong play from its entire big 3 or enough help from other people to make up for a bad night for one of them. Tonight, it got neither, and still nearly won on the road.
Let's look at how it went down by playing man-to-man.

Ken Horton: 25 and 14 is an amazing night, but I'd still love to see him take the game over more often in the final moments. Still, without his efforts, CCSU loses this one by 20.

Terrell Allen: More fouls than rebounds is never good from a big.

Kyle Vinales: Has gone back to being more than just a shooter, dishing the ball well at times. He's a player, no doubt.

Malcolm McMillan: Not  a stellar night, but the kid battles and plays the whole game on bad shins. The two blocks were a pleasant surprise.

Robby Ptacek: Tried to shoot his way out of it, but just couldn't get on track. Part of me wishes he'd stop shooting when he's that cold, but Central hasn't had enough other players show they can be offensive threats to make that possible. As for the last shot, he did what he could with it.

Adonis Burbage: Not much statistically, but  provided some rest for the starters.

De'Angelo Speech: Still trying to get going again. But being healthy helps.

Joe Efese: Followed up a strong game Thursday with a bit of a stinker Saturday. So goes the enigma that is Joe Efese.

David Simmons: CCSU's centers combined for four points and eight rebounds. Simmons, however, was the best of the bunch tonight.


First off, I'll go back and patch up the Wagner post soon for record keeping purposes and to serve as reminders before the rematch next month.
For now, however, let's take a brief look at tonight's win, a game that was over 10 minutes in. Here's a very quick version of man-to-man.

Ken Horton: His streak of 20 misses form three is over. Tonight's thought? My word, how many points would have be putting up if he hadn't gone cold from outside? A double-double and a crazy dunk. Well, more like a crazy catch. The ball was behind him, and he managed to corral it and get it down.

Terrell Allen: A big part of the emerging 3-headed monster in the middle.

Kyle Vinales: Yes, he shoots alot. But he also had seven assists with no turnovers.

Malcolm McMillan: 10 assists, no turnovers.

Robby Ptacek: A quiet night, but he wasn't needed. Bryant just couldn't do anything about it.

Adonis Burbage: Hit a pair of threes, had a pair of blocks, and ate up some minutes. A nice effort.

Shelton Mickell: At least he's healthy.

De'Angelo Speech: Ditto.

Mark Laporte: His miss probably was the only disappointment of the night for CCSU.

Joe Efese; Played really well. Seems to be taking to the bench role. His spurt late in the first half iced the game.

David Simmons: A big hoop and some energy.

Checking in

Had an exceptionally long night so I'm not going to to a breakdown of the game until Sunday.
For now I'll just say this: Robby Ptacek was great. Kyle Vinales was due for a night like this and Ken Horton deserves a mulligan every once in a while, especially on this night.


I haven't decided yet if I want to give Central a ton of credit for pulling out a tough game on the road or rip the Blue Devils for letting what should have been an easy night become a nail-biter.
My sense is that the truth is somewhere in between. Up double-digits in the second half, the game never should have gotten close again. That said, Central did what it had to do and got a big road win, making the Devils 5-0 heading into the Saturday Showdown with Wagner.

Let's look at this win, which has CCSU 5-0 in the league.

Ken Horton: 3 to tie 4 to break the record if my late-night math is right. As for the game itself, it was a typical Horton night. Shoot better than 50 percent, score 23-plus and grab nine boards. Four turnovers are a bit high and he hasn't made a three in about two weeks, but we're really nitpicking here. Saturday, by the way, would be a nice time to get hot from there.

Terrell Allen: Interesting choice to start. Did some nice things as usual, but I think I like him as an energy guy off the bench.

Kyle Vinales: His hot streak at the end of the first half changed the game and paved the way for the big lead in the second half.

Malcolm McMillan: Tough as nails, smart, but Central needs to get him some rest and soon.

Robby Ptacek: A man who never seems to need rest, he didn't shoot well. He got himself good shots though, which is more than half the battle. Those will fall.

Adonis Burbage: A cup of coffee.

Shelton Mickell: One of two men who need to step up and help ease McMillan's burden, he needs to give Howie Dickenman more reasons to play him.

De'Angelo Speech: Here's the other. With three steals in 11 minutes, it's clear he's close to being a contributor again. My sense is he comes off the bench the rest of the year (and starts next to Malcolm next year), but he will play a big part in the next 13 NEC games. Actually, CCSU hopes it's 16 more.

Joe Efese: If only he could stay out of foul trouble. He's showing huge flashes, he just needs to put it together for 2 consecutive halves, and do it without fouling.

David Simmons: He busts his tail, and Central seems to feed off his energy.


When Central plays defense to match its fantastic offensive potential, watch out.
The best defensive effort of the year gave CCSU a resounding victory over Robert Morris. A great effort by Malcolm McMillan on defense and Robby Ptacek on offense.
Let's play man-to-man.

Joe Efese: 4 rebounds in just 12 minutes of work, but he fits in nicely in the mix of big men Central has.

Ken Horton: 27 to go to the record. I can't remember ever seeing a more efficient scorer. I was talking to Bob Ryan (yeah, I know, I'm sorry, I had to name drop there) about Horton's game and I said, "what's he got, 15?" I looked at the monitor and he had 21 on 11 shots. He gets to the line but steps up when he needs to, and he manages to get it all done while grabbing boards and making sure he doesn't take shots away from Kyle Vinales or Robby Ptacek. He's really fun to watch. My only concern is that they HAVE to find him some rest. Whether it's De'Angelo Speech coming back or Adonis Burbage getting more minutes, Horton has to sit at some point.

Kyle Vinales: He gets out of bed, stands up and he's in scoring range. Underrated stat: Five assists and one turnover.

Malcolm McMillan: The real glue guy. A defensive whiz, a steadying force who had one turnover with five assists himself, he had a fantastic game. He will be a leader someday. The concern is that his shins are bothering him. Something to watch.

Robby Ptacek: He runs hot and cold, and right now he's hot.

Adonis Burbage: Central will need more from him going forward.

Shelton Mickell: Expect his minutes to go up as he continues to look more comfortable.

De'Angelo Speech: You're seeing flashes. Once he gets his legs (or feet more accurately) back under him, this team will look different. You saw some flashes Saturday.

David Simmons: He's all grown up. A more mature person and player. And he's starting to believe he can score.

Terrell Allen: A nice piece to have in the mix, even if he gave nothing but minutes Saturday.


A huge opportunity for Central today vs. RMU. Preview is up. In this gym, I give CCSU a chance, but only if they're willing to fight like the Devils were over the last eight minutes Thursday night.

I will tell you this. They look enthused right now watching the women's game. Ken Horton has jumped up and cheered a couple of times, and the guys seem genuinely into the game.


Between illness and work we'/re behind on this, so let's bang out a man-to-man for record keeping purposes as much as anything.
It was an ugly win, and CCSU will have to be much more consistent today, but a win is a win, and this team needed one. So let's play man-to-man.

Joe Efese: His lack of rebounds and Dave Simmons' fantastic play led to him only getting 10 minutes. But I still think he's improving.

Ken Horton: He put the Superman cape on down the stretch, making up for a subpar effort before that. He was strong on the glass, however. He's 48 from the record.

Kyle Vinales: 27 on the night, and 20 early when Central desperately needed someone to keep the Devils in the game. Sometimes you can have a big first half and have it matter.

Malcolm McMillan: 4 steals and only 2 turnovers. Tough as nails, too. Becoming a quiet leader on a team that needs one.

Robby Ptacek: Coach Dickenman's speech worked wonders. Great second half.

Adonis Burbage: Some filler minutes again.

Shelton Mickell: Looks like he's getting his feet under him after a rough start, then an injury.

De'Angelo Speech: This will be a different team, especially defensively, when he's healthy.

David Simmons: Just a great effort. If Central follows his lead in terms of energy and passion, it will be fine.

Terrell Allen: Same thing. Big minutes before the half that helped keep CCSU alive.