All posts by corey_pollnow

Men’s Basketball Drops Home Opener To Rider

By Corey Pollnow

The Central Men’s basketball team (1-5) continues to struggle defensively as they dropped their home opener on Nov. 23 versus Rider 89-73.

Malcolm McMillan scored six points in the span of 25 minutes seconds to give Central a 10-3 lead five minutes into the game. Rider (2-4) would subsequently go on a 9-0 run. With nine minutes remaining in the first half, Khalil Alford made a three point shot, and the Broncs never looked back from that point on.

“I don’t have any answers as to why we’re not defending the ball,” said Central’s head coach, Howie Dickenman.

Despite practicing a defensive drill called “challenge the shot” to close out on shooter’s, the Blue Devils still allowed Rider to make seven of their 12 three point attempts in the first half and shoot 57 percent in the first half. “When we’re making baskets our defense is pretty good but when we go cold it’s a mental letdown for each of the players,” said Dickenman.

The Broncs headed into the locker room with a 16 point lead on the backs of Zedric Salder and Alford who respectively scored 15 and 10 points in the first 20 minutes. Central came out in the second half and closed the deficit to nine points on a layup by Khalen Cumberlander, but that was the closest the Blue Devils would get. “When the ball didn’t fall for us our energy appeared to be affected,” said Dickenman.

Central shot 35 percent from behind the arc last season, but versus Rider the team could only make four of their 18 three pointers which was. “I think when things don’t go well for us we don’t react very well to adversity,” said Dickenman.

CCSU ranks 344th out 345 teams in points given up per game, but the Blue Devils will have over 4 weeks to fix their defensive woes before conference play starts on Jan. 9 versus Wagner

Matt Hunter (concussion) and Terrell Allen were unable to play due to injuries, but Dickenman didn’t use that as an excuse for the Blue Devils loss.

Junior Kyle Vinales led Central in scoring with 16 points on three of 15 shooting. Forwards Faronte Drakeford and Juwan Newman combined to score 26 points and grab 18 rebounds.

Zedric led the Broncs offensively with 21 points, five rebounds, and five assists.

Central’s next game is tonight at Detrick Gym versus New Hampshire at 7 p.m.

Volleyball Falls In NEC Championship Match

by Sean Begin
Brooklyn, New York –
For the Central Connecticut volleyball team, a successful season ended with a difficult defeat at the hands of Long Island University-Brooklyn last Sunday in the Northeast Conference Championship game at Long Island.

The Blue Devils (21-9) fell in straight sets to the Blackbirds (23-7) by scores of 25-12, 25-19 and 25-14, who finished an unbeaten season in the NEC. It was Central’s third loss to LIU this season.

“We knew we were the underdog coming in here but we weren’t thinking that way,” said Coach Linda Sagnelli. “I told my athletes not to hang their heads because the work that they put in… nothing should take away everything that they’ve done this season.”
The loss ends what was otherwise a successful season for Central women’s volleyball. After opening the season losing five of the first seven games, the Blue Devils ran off a string of seven wins.
Following losses to LIU and Saint Francis Brooklyn, Central would go on another winning streak, this time of ten games, which was ended with the teams’ second loss of the season to Long Island.

“When you reflect back on the season that we had, we’ve done a lot of things right,” said Sagnelli. “They come in day in and day out and they’re ready to learn, they’re ready to give 100 percent effort all the time.”

The team was led in the match by senior Veronika Ban, who had nine kills and three service aces in the final game of her college career. Freshman Cassidy Stankowski added seven kills of her own to go along with seven digs, a team high. Sophomore Makenna Lommori assisted in 23 Blue Devil kills.

Central could not anything going offensively against the Blackbirds, who stifled the Blue Devil attack all game, blocking 10 shots as a team. The Blue Devils pushed Long Island in the second set with three straight aces on Ban’s serve but it proved to not be enough. Central held the lead only three times in the match.

“We got outplayed,” said Sagnelli following the loss. “We simply met a Long Island team today that was just playing a better version of volleyball. They executed better than we did today.”
Central came into the game feeling “phenomenal,” according to Sagnelli. A three set sweep of Sacred Heart University in the semi-final match seemed to boost the confidence of the team heading into Sunday’s championship match.

“I don’t want this [loss] to detract from what we did in the semi-final match,” said Sagnelli. “It’s always kind of dangerous when you’re playing a team you’ve beaten twice. I thought we executed and outplayed Sacred Heart.”
Despite the bitterness of the loss, the team is young, only fielding two upper classmen in the starting rotation for most of the season, and has much to take away from the championship loss.

“You have to remember today but you can’t let it consumer you,” Sagnelli said of her message to her team. “You’ve got to remember the good you’ve done. We just take this as a learning experience, as a day that can make us a little tougher as we go forward.”
Central seems poised to compete in the NEC for the next several years. They were ranked third in the NEC polls prior to this season in which many of the starters were freshman or sophomores and should see a similar ranking next season.

“Being in this environment is only going to add to the experience of a young team,” said Sagnelli. “Hopefully, we’ll have the chance next year to have another shot at claiming a conference championship.”

Sophomore Set to Step Up

by Sean Begin
When the regular starting center for the women’s basketball team – senior Johnna Fisher – went down with an injury, it would become necessary for someone from the bench to step in and fill that role for the team.
Coach Beryl Piper turned to sophomore Amanda Harrington, who is now in her third season with the Blue Devils after redshirting her freshman year and coming off the bench for the team last season.
“Amanda definitely has to pick up the slack in the post spot,” said Piper before the start of the season. “She’s been doing a really good job so far in practice and in our scrimmage games. We’re excited about how she’s going to play.”
So far this season, Harrington has played well and seen action in all six of the Blue Devils’ games, getting the start in three of them while playing at least nineteen minutes in five of them.
In those five games, Harrington has averaged 24.7 minutes per game while putting up 7.6 points and 7.0 rebounds per game as well.
Despite the increased role she’s been getting, Harrington remains focused on the team and what she needs to do to improve the chances of a team win.
“It’s nice to play, everyone wants to play,” she said. “But even when I don’t play, I don’t get down on myself. Whoever’s out on the court, I try to encourage them, keep them going.”
Harrington notes that she needs to focus on rebounding, saying “That’s what I have to do. Offensive, defensive. Rebound, get [the ball] out and run. And that’s because of my foot speed. I have to get out so we can get transition points.”
So far this season, Harrington is third on the team in rebounding behind starting seniors Jessica Babe and Lauren Arbogast and has shown she can play effective minutes for Central.
Harrington comes from a basketball family. Her father played college ball and picked up the sport again after Harrington showed an interest in it and began playing with AAU club teams at the age of nine. Harrington’s younger sister, like herself, played basketball and volleyball in high school while her brother played high school hoops as well.
Listed as both a power forward and center, Harrington says she prefers to play more towards the center position, but finds herself having to play it differently. Rather than backing down an opponent in the post, Harrington has to rely on her speed.
“Because I’m not the biggest I don’t have the strength as much,” she said. “But I have the foot speed so I have to learn to get around more, to use my quickness against someone else’s size.”
Even though Harrington doesn’t have the size as other centers, she used the opportunity provided for her during her redshirt season to build up her strength.
“Redshirting helped me because I still got to practice; I still got to do extra workouts. So it helped me strengthen who I am. I got used to handling the workload of school and basketball,’ said Harrington.
The gradual adjustment to Division I basketball has helped Harrington settle into her increased role easily.
“Sometimes it’s still a little nerve wracking for me to get into the game because I get overexcited,” she said. “But I think because I redshirted, I got to sit and watch and still got to practice and get better, it’s actually helped me transition into it pretty easily.”
Harrington has had the help of the injured Fisher during practice, getting advice and pointers from the senior, who will give Harrington specific goals in practice to work towards to help improve her game.
“She’ll pull me aside at practice and say ‘Hey, you have to offensive rebound this next play, you have to do this the next play.’ It’s given me things to work for and work harder at. She’s been that voice in the back of my head,” said Harrington.
Harrington says that the help she’s gotten from Fisher has helped her see and play the game better. It’s a treatment she got when she came to New Britain for a visit before agreeing to play ball for Central.
“When I came for my official [visit] the girls were very family-oriented. They were really nice and open to me. It just felt right here,” she said.
Central not only offered Harrington a place to play college basketball, but also a place to earn a degree in her chosen field of graphic design. For Harrington, playing for Central fit both academically, as well as athletically, by helping to make a positive change to her game.
“I’ve definitely gotten more confident coming here. I’m not the biggest center but I’ve been able to learn what I’m good at, what I’m not good at and be able to adjust to how to play.”
Harrington and the Blue Devils next hit the court on Sunday on the road against Vermont.

Andrew Hurd Hears What CCSU Thinks About His Game

By Aundrea Murray

Known as the “walk-on” player, sophomore Andrew Hurd walked onto one of the most competitive basketball teams in the state and walked right into a community of supporters, admirers and die-hard fans.

Hurd’s name has made its way around campus one way or another. Students are wondering who he is, what he represents and what his purpose on an already strong team may be. Yet, whether he is being underestimated or questioned, he remains the topic of discussion of multiple conversations.

During Hurd’s freshman year, it was as if the bench did not exist. He earned himself more game time then most of his previous high school peers. No one can expect to hear him boast, however. His humble attitude stands out more than his star quality–especially since CCSU was not his first choice.

“Growing up, I always wanted to go to Syracuse but that school is really expensive.”, Hurd said.

Though the joy of his acceptance to Syracuse was short lived, Central was more than another option for Hurd. It was an opportunity to be apart of an institution that gave him a place to fit in rather than struggle to find his own placement, like most teenagers do.

“There’s a lot of negative connotation [to being a walk-on] because you’re on the team, you get all the gear, you’re at all of the games, but you don’t get paid to go here”, Hurd admitted.

“I’d like to think of myself as just another player. I’d like to bring my leadership qualities to the team. I feel like I know the game very well.. I’m just trying to compete for positions just like everybody else”.

It is still an early season for our men’s basketball team but Coach Howie Dickenman made sure to kick off November full throttle. At their opening game against Yale, all 11 players were prepared to either start or assist on what they hoped to be a great premiere game. Hurd remembers the enthusiasm Coach Dickenman instilled in his teammates.

“He’s really supportive and encourages everyone”, Hurd said. “He’s used to working with UCONN so his coaching is intense—he really expects the best from us”.

Hurd’s coach is not his only source of motivation. As the smallest player on the team, standing proudly at 5’10 while his teammates surrounding him are well over six feet, he finds himself more inspired by his peers than intimidated. Player Kyle Vinales encourages Hurd effortlessly simply by being himself.

“His work ethic is second to none. [Coach Dickenman] used to work with (basketball player) Ray Allen and compared Kyle’s work ethic to his”.

That is one heck of a comparison.

“Just being in the gym with him and seeing how hard he works, he really shows you what it takes to be great”.

It is no assumption that discipline and ambition are two of Hurd’s most prominent qualities. Before there were college sports, he remained well-involved in his academics at Windsor High. Balancing advanced placement courses with his extra-curricular activities took more skill than it did luck. All of which paid off when he was faced with challenges that college students experience everyday.

“I’m still not sure what I’m majoring in yet”, Hurd confessed. “There’s two routes I’m willing to take: I’m studying business. But I kind of want to stick with basketball and get into coaching”.

It is that kind of genuineness that is causing Hurd to stand out whether he is on or off of the court. His modest attitude towards his potential is a trait many of Central’s male basketball players share. It is a trait most can admire and it is a trait that the Hurd family has known all along.

“I’ll watch him on the bench during a game and he’ll be the first one up to congratulate somebody coming off of the court”, Hurd’s mother revealed.

“Even if [Hurd] is not in the game, he is keeping everybody up, that is playing in the game”.

Whether or not Hurd is given the chance during a game to put his love for basketball to use, his consistent positive attitude is nearly contagious. He steadily motivates himself and those surrounding him to work hard while celebrating every good moment.

“When I scored my first point [at CCSU] it was versus the number one team in the country–Indiana”, Hurd reminisced. “That whole experience was great”.

Hurd also has high hopes for the future.

“I’d like for the team to win a NAC (North American Cup) championship. I definitely think we have what it takes to do it”.

Women’s Basketball Steals One On Last Second Free Throw

By Sean Begin
Controversy clung to the final seconds of Central Connecticut women’s basketball’s 53-52 home victory against the University of New Hampshire.
Central (2-2) had won their last four meetings against the Wildcats (2-2) coming into the game, but needed every second to pull out the win.
New Hampshire’s Corinne Coia went for a layup with three seconds left on the clock and the game tied at 52. Central’s Lauren Arbogast, a senior, came down with the rebound and drew a foul call from the referee with just one second remaining.
The call brought cries of outrage from the UNH bench, whole felt Coia had been hit hard and fouled in her attempt to go for the layup. Instead, Arbogast went to the line needing to hit just one of her free throws to give Central the game. She missed the first.
“I asked her if she wanted me to call another timeout,” said Coach Beryl Piper. “She said no. She was confident. She wanted to shoot them. I think in those instances you’re probably going to make one.”
Luckily, Arbogast hit the second free throw; enough to give Central the win over New Hampshire for the fifth straight meeting.
“Arbo hitting that free throw was huge. That just shows composure, mental toughness,” said senior Jessica Babe. “She always seems to come around at the right time. It show’s a little bit of toughness.”
New Hampshire went on a 16-3 run during the last eight minutes of play to set up the tie game scenario at the end. The three came from Arbogast, who had been cold all night from the floor, and stopped a 12-0 run by the Wildcats to give Central a 52-48 lead at the time.
“I honestly feel like we should have not been in that situation at all. It shouldn’t have been there,” said Babe of fending off the comeback. “When we’re up 10, that’s when you have to close it out. We just got too comfortable, start making defensive mistakes.”
Babe led the Blue Devils, posting 16 points and 11 rebounds for the double-double, to go along with four assists and a steal. Sophomore TeJahne Malone was the only other Blue Devil player to break double digit points, putting up 11 to go with five rebounds.
“For us, we’re really lucky tonight that TeJahne played as well as TeJahne played,” said Piper after the game. “She made some big buckets and got some great offensive rebounds to get us some second shots when we needed them.”
The Blue Devils went on a 12-2 run in the middle of the second before giving up the 12 unanswered points to New Hampshire. The first half was a back and forth tug of war match between the two teams with the game tied at 25 headed to the locker room.
Central went down by six to start the game but clawed back and exchanged leads all half with the Wildcats, twice tying the game before the break on baskets from Malone.