Anthony Latina needed a morale boost, a pick-me-up, anything, really, considering the position his team was in halfway through this season. Continue reading
NEW BRITAIN, Conn. – We all know that “nice guys finish last”, and the nicest guy in the NEC will likely finish his career at the bottom of the conference standings, although with three games to go, Howie Dickenman’s squad is playing its best basketball. Thursday night, his Central Connecticut squad led the entire second half in a 76-72 win over Mount St. Mary’s at Detrick Gym.
Dickenman made official Thursday following the game what was already common knowledge thanks to sources and social media, his 20th season in charge of CCSU basketball would be the 69-year-old’s final one. It was typical Dickenman that he was slightly annoyed that word of his retirement leaked out before he could make it official, technology and social media are not really his thing.
NEW BRITAIN, Conn. – “They’re going to beat somebody” might be the ultimate in backhanded compliments, but it’s become a common refrain for opponents of Central Connecticut the last two seasons.
There are many causes, the most prominent being the dismissal of Kyle Vinales before last season, but these aren’t encouraging times for CCSU, now 1-12 overall and 0-2 in the NEC after falling 76-67 Monday night. With no more winless teams in Division I, the Blue Devils are tied for bottom in that category, and perhaps even more concerning, rank No. 350 overall in KenPom, with only Florida A&M behind them.
NEW BRITAIN, Conn. – We have long since established that the non-conference season means next to nothing for NEC teams, this season even more so than usual with parity abound. However, that zero next to Central Connecticut in the win column was still an eyesore at this point of the season.
Add the fact that of the 351 Division I basketball teams in this great country, only five had yet to win a game, and it grew harder to look at with each passing day.
With UConn and Yale next on the schedule, 69-years-young Howie Dickenman was well aware that a home loss Friday night to UMass Lowell likely meant that his Blue Devils would enter conference play 0-11, and so – now feeling much better after a health scare earlier in the season – he was out leading the warmup himself 45 minutes prior to tip, urging his players to up the tempo.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression (might as well get all the cliches out of the way on Opening Day), but in the mid-major basketball world, particularly for the six teams competing at the Connecticut 6 Friday night, first impressions will mean very little in the end.
Unless Yale has an outrageous non-conference slate and somehow gets edged out for the tournament-less Ivy League automatic bid, none of the teams playing at Detrick Gym are getting an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, so the focus is on getting better and rounding into form as the conference season commences.
For Fairfield and Quinnipiac, both of whom struggled mightily, that’s only a couple of weeks away. But for Yale and Hartford, it’s still many moons off (about two months to be precise). However, given the roster turnover of the teams playing in New Britain, it was nice to actually see them on the court and get a look at what might be coming for the rest of the campaign.
You would think Howie Dickenman has seen it all in the Northeast Conference, yet last Tuesday’s appearance at the Barclays Center for the league’s social media day marked a rare occasion for the 68-year old head coach. Continue reading
I’ve chimed in on a couple of major NEC transfers this offseason (Marcquise Reed here and Andrew Smeathers here), but during my brief hiatus from the blog I failed to address a few other significant defections. Allow me to catch up as I assess how the recent turnover may affect two programs that finished in the bottom of the NEC standings, Fairleigh Dickinson (FDU) and Central Connecticut (CCSU). Continue reading
It was inevitable that Howie Dickenman would bring up Tate George and Scott Burrell after Faronte Drakeford and Brandon Peel pulled off the play of the NEC season Saturday night with a play eerily reminiscent of UConn’s winner in the 1990 Sweet 16 against Clemson to lead CCSU to a 53-50 win over Wagner at Detrick Gym.
Heck, even the time on the clock was the same (1.0 seconds), although Drakeford left Peel with a little more work to do than George had, as Peel turned and hit only his second career three-pointer from a good 25 feet out after Drakeford fired the ball down the court. Dickenman, of course, was an assistant under Jim Calhoun on that UConn squad where he would stay until taking over at CCSU in 1996.
Among the many cliches used by basketball coaches is, “They’re going to beat somebody, we don’t want it to be us” when playing a struggling team. And as with all cliches, there is a modicum of truth in there.
For instance, as poorly as Central Connecticut has played and as undermanned as the Blue Devils are (without Kyle Vinales and Malcolm McMillan – who now appears to be lost for the season with a back injury), our buddies (or buddy) at KenPom put their odds of going winless in the NEC at a paltry 2.6% heading into Thursday’s game against LIU Brooklyn at Detrick Gym.
It looked like a misprint, really. Brown 49th nationally in adjusted tempo? Then you look back at last season and see them 29th, mixed in with the VCUs and Ionas of the world. Then you remember the Bears – who haven’t won the Ivy League since 1986 – were 7-4 in the league before a three-game losing streak to close the season (including an overtime loss to Harvard). So maybe that’s the way to go these days?
Well, kind of.