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CCSU Keeps Winning

February 27, 2008 Columns No Comments

Central Connecticut Shows They Know How to Win

by Ray Floriani

TEANECK, N.J. – Just under fifteen minutes remained and Fairleigh Dickinson University had a 52-44 lead over Central Connecticut. The Knights appeared to be in the driver’s seat and head coach Tom Green was ready to claim win number 400. Then the entire course of the game reversed.

In the space of just under nine minutes FDU’s offense disappeared and the defense was quick to follow suit. Central then had an eight-point lead of their own with six minutes to go. Given the time it wasn’t an insurmountable edge, but given the situation, FDU was finished. Central went on to post a 73-60 decision in a Northeast Conference game at the Rothman Center last Thursday.

“We just can’t seem to live with prosperity,” Green said. His club made it through a shaky start of the game and put themselves in position to control the contest before the wheels fell off. “They made that run with (Tristan) Blackwood out resting. We had the lead and we should have bearing down and executing our offense. Instead we took bad shots and made bad decisions.”

While Blackwood, Central’s leading scorer who had 12 points at the guard spot, rested, the Blue Devils received support from frontcourt players Marcus Powell and Ken Horton. In the end, this was FDU’s game to win and they lost it on the offensive end.

“I’m disappointed with experienced players not focusing,” Green said. “Freshmen mistakes I can live with, but upperclassmen not doing the right thing in the right circumstances is tough. It’s disappointing also because I thought we were ready to play.”

Central Connecticut mentor Howie Dickenman was obviously pleased, noting, “It’s a positive win because Tristan (Blackwood) was not at his best. The defense was the thing that won it for us.”

Shemik Thompson led Central Connecticut with 21 points while Manny Ubilla paced FDU with 21 as well.

“I thought we defended Ubilla well,” Dickenman said. “We challenged their shots but Ubilla just hit some with a defender’s hand in his face.”

That second half, which was FDU’s undoing, saw Central Connecticut shoot 55 percent from the floor. The Blue Devils also forced 14 turnovers and had an 18-11 edge on the offensive boards. Central Connecticut improved to 9-7 in the NEC while FDU fell to 3-12.

“We still have a chance mathematically (to make the NEC playoffs),” Green said,” but we’re running out of time.”

Speaking of the NEC post season tournament, Central Connecticut is the only NEC member to qualify for every tournament the past decade. Central has been the dominant conference program over that time winning three NEC titles and outdistancing runner-up Monmouth 122 to 104 in NEC victories. This run has been completely under the watch of Dickenman.

“Over the years I’ve had assistants like Steve Pikiell, now doing a nice job at Stony Brook, Rod Sellers who is at UConn and Chris Casey at St. John’s working for me,” Dickenman said. “You are only good as your assistants. These are quality guys like the ones I have on staff now. They are the reason for the program’s success. When Nick Macarchuk first hired me at Canisius, he told me there were three important things: One, who you marry, two, who you hire when you are a head coach, and three, the house you buy. Nick was 100 percent right.”

With Dickenman, a former Jim Calhoun aide, at the helm Central Connecticut has had a wonderful association and resided in the NEC penthouse.


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