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Colonial Notebook

February 4, 2008 Conference Notes No Comments



Colonial Athletic Association Notebook

by Jay Pearlman

One Trip, Two Wins for Huskies

Those of you who read this space regularly – and even some who don’t – know how treacherous the road is in the CAA, that this is a conference in which home teams prevail almost 70 percent of the time. The road has been particularly unkind to Bill Coen’s Northeastern Huskies (now 9-12 overall and 5-6 in CAA play), what with non-conference games this year at Illinois, Maryland, Rhode Island, UConn, Syracuse and BC. Last season, one in which they finished fifth in the CAA, the Huskies didn’t have a single road win (conference or non-conference) until mid-February, and true to form, they were 0-4 in conference road games coming into this week.

And it’s not just Northeastern. If you were to look at conference play in two-game weekly “chunks” for lack of a better term, coming into this week only Delaware and George Mason among conference teams had managed consecutive Wednesday-Saturday road wins this season. Delaware did it on January 2 at William & Mary and January 5 at Drexel, and Mason did it January 17 at Hofstra (Thursday) and January 19 at James Madison. VCU did manage a Saturday-Wednesday road exacta, January 19 at Old Dominion and January 23 at Hofstra.

Additionally, this week did not bode well for the Huskies, coming off their worst loss of the season at home against Hofstra. They began the trip by returning a visit to Delaware after knocking the Blue Hens from first place with an overtime home win eleven days earlier, a game in which foul trouble (including a technical) limited Herb Courtney to ten minutes, two points and nary a rebound.

While basketball sixth men (and their coaches) sometimes say it’s not how you start but now you finish, this Super Bowl Sunday some of you will agree that for an outmanned road team it’s often very much how one starts. (By the time you read this, you’ll know if the Giants were able to score first tonight and remain competitive, or if the Pats scored first and won by a zillion). To the great surprise of the Delaware crowd (and this reporter), led by the aggressive play of freshman point guard Chaisson Allen with his scoring, defending and rebounding, the Huskies scored the first 6 points of the game, led 8-2 at the first media break (Allen with 4), went to the half up 8, and held on for a hard-fought 4-point win.

Matt Janning led all Husky scorers with 13 (nearly matching Courtney’s 16), and Allen, Nkem Ojougboh and Manny Adako each had double doubles for the victors. But everyone fed off of Allen’s energy, penetrating, shooting, defending, and on both boards. And on the heels of as tough a home loss as this group had experienced, Northeastern had a conference road win, 53-49. Allen’s stats (5-12, 1-3 in treys, 11 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 turnover, 2 steals) understate his impact on the game. They were secondary to the incredible energy he brought to the game, energy the Blue Hens could never match all night long.

After spending an extra day in Newark and then bussing up to Philadelphia, the Huskies’ goal of two straight road wins was supported by good fortune, as Drexel’s star center Frank Elegar missed Saturday’s game with back spasms. And while Drexel couldn’t score without Elegar in the lineup, Bruiser Flint’s charges came out with the best defensive first half of the season and the teams went to halftime with the Huskies leading 16-15.

Well, no matter how well Drexel guarded, Matt Janning and company were able to make shots in the second half, and Northeastern pulled away to an easy 63-40 win and a sweep of their Delaware/Philadelphia road week. Janning told us after the game that at halftime Bill Coen told his players to keep on taking the good shots they were taking in a sub-20 percent shooting first half and they’d go in. They did and they did, and the Elegar-less Dragons simply couldn’t keep up.

Now it’s home for Northeastern for a first meeting with well-coached ODU (suddenly seeking .500 in conference), and then a rematch with William and Mary. Home wins this week would set up a fiery rematch with Antoine Agudio and Hofstra a week from Wednesday on Long Island.

CAA News and Notes

  • In a home win this reporter would have loved to see, William & Mary (8-3) held on to its share of second place and kept UNC-Wilmington (7-4) from joining Northeastern with a 2-0 road week, holding the league’s second highest scoring team to 66 and beating the Seahawks by 4.
  • After wining two close games, at Delaware and home to Drexel, Rod Barnes’ Georgia State team couldn’t keep Blaine Taylor’s Monarch’s within range, falling to ODU 73-50 in Norfolk.
  • Having followed up their big win over VCU by beating James Madison easily at home, 72-46, Jim Larranaga’s GMU Patriots now play three on the road, the second of which next Saturday at ODU will be on short rest following a Thursday night television tilt at Drexel.
  • First place VCU hits the road for two this week, visiting Georgia State and a suddenly reeling Delaware team.
  • The matchups for ESPN’s bracketbusters on February 22-23 should be announced tomorrow and Tuesday, and every team in the CAA is participating.

     

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