Category Archives: Basketball

Blue Devils Miss Playoff Deadline

by Humera Gul

Central Connecticut State University’s men’s basketball team played their hearts out, but fell to Robert Morris 74-64. The team was able to cut a 19 point deficit down to just five point, however, it was too little too late.

The team struggled with shooting and finishing plays. Central shot 22 of 60 from the field, 7 of 18 for three pointers, and 13 of 25 at the foul line. The Blue Devils had the crowd roaring during the comeback moments.

“It comes down to guys that haven’t been in this situation before, meaning, the game of this magnitude, and I think we came out nervous,” said Coach Donyell Marshall.

It did take the blue devils some time to settle into the game. Khalen Cumberlander did all he could to win the game for his senior year. Cumberlander made 9 of 17 field goals, including three three pointers. He also scored three out of his six foul shots. He finished with 24 points for the game. He also had five rebounds and one assist. He not only led the team in points scored, but also scored more than any other player in the game.

Coach Marshall had nothing but good things to say about Khalen.
“Khalen has been playing well, he’s been playing a lot harder. I think he was feeling his senior year is on the line and he only had a couple of games left. In the huddles, he was very talkative and became a leader for this team. It’s sad because as a new coach, I only got one year with a guy like that.”

Another Blue Devil that catches the eye is Austin Nehls. Nehls was 3 for 10 in his field goals, included two three pointers. He finished 6 of 9 foul shots. He also was part of an alley-oop, where he passed it to Cumberlander and Cumberlander dunked it. Nehls also had two rebounds and three assists.

Blue Devil’s rookie Tyson Batiste had three rebounds, five assists and two steals.

“Unfortunately, by the time we got clicking and we got going, it was too little too late. We expanded so much energy doing it, but you got to keep working and building on it. We were officially eliminated, but we got two games left and we will try to win those games,” Coach Marshall said.

Isaiah Still of Robert Morris made significant contributions to the game. Still was 6 of 15 in his field goals including a three pointer. He scored a high 9 of 11 on his foul ball, and finished with 22 points for the game. Still also had eight rebounds, two assists and a steal.

Still’s teammate Aaron Tate finished 3 out of 4 from the field and 4 out of 4 on foul shots. He also recorded eight rebounds.

The loss drops CCSU to 5-22 overall and 3-13 in the NEC. This loss eliminates the Blue Devils from playoff contention. CCSU will hosts St. Francis Brooklyn in its final home game of the season and its seniors night. Watch out for Khalen Cumberlander.

A Streak Unlike Any Other

by Tyler Roaix

The University of Connecticut Women’s Basketball team made history reaching a 100 game winning streak, after their defeat against sixth ranked South Carolina. The streak has built up over the past three seasons, and has brought UConn two national championships.

If there is anything this streak has proven, it’s that UConn has had its sport under it’s control since Geno Auriemma took over as head coach. Much like Alabama has controlled college football or how the Yankees controlled baseball. But somehow, this seems almost more impressive.

It isn’t just the fact that the Huskies won 100 games in a row. It’s the fact that they have crushed pretty much everyone in their way. Of the 100 games, a whopping 71 of them were victories by at least 30 points. Just two wins were by less than 10 points. All in all, their average margin of victory during the streak has been 38.4 points. Just to add insult to injury, nine of the wins came against teams ranked third or better, with the smallest margin of victory in those games being just six points.

This isn’t the first time the Huskies have went on a long winning streak. In fact, they now hold four of the top five longest win streaks in women’s college basketball history, all of which have happened since the 2001-2002 season. This streak began in 2014 after a two-point loss to Stanford.

The craziest part about this UConn team is not only how good they are, but also the fact that they are only going to get better. They have just three seniors on their roster. Saniya Chong is the only senior actually in the starting lineup. Of course, Auriemma has the best of the best at the high school level coming in next season, including Megan Walker, who’s is widely known as the best high school player in the country.

Critics will argue that the lack of competition in women’s college basketball takes away from the impressiveness of the streak. But let’s be honest, over a streak of 100 games, it’s really easy to have a bad game and slip up. Maybe you just get outplayed one night or someone makes a crazy shot to win the game. But nothing like that has happened. The bottom line is that UConn has played near perfect basketball over the past three years. That has nothing to do with the competition, that’s just how good the Huskies are.

Who knows when the streak will end, if at all this year. It’s more than likely UConn will be taking their usual place, cutting down the nets, at the end of the tournament in April. Say what you will about women’s college basketball, but this 100 game win streak is the latest step in a long line of dominance by the Huskies.

Blue Devils Lose in Crushing Fashion

by Humera Gul

The Central Connecticut State University Mens Basketball team fell to the Sacred Heart Pioneers in a 77-62 loss on Saturday. CCSU struggled to keep a five point lead early on in the game.

There were moments of promise, especially when Mustafa Jones put up six of the eight points CCSU scored. Mustafa Jones shot seven out of 12 from the field. He also had six rebounds, two steals and six blocks. Mustafa Jones is a junior, and has shown much poise and promise in many games this season.

Sacred Heart built a double digit lead in the first half, ass CCSU struggled to score from then on. CCSU’s offense did alright, but had difficulty shooting from the arc. Perhaps we need to work on our three pointers and improve our defense a little. Either shoot better from the arc, or take more shots from the field.

The Blue Devils didn’t get blown out, but they were never able to take the lead again. Hey, The Patriots never had the lead during 60 minutes of the Super Bowl but they won.

Sophomore Austin Nehls was 4-10 from the field. However, he did get two three point shots and was 2 of 2 for foul shots. He had five rebounds, three assists and two steals. On the other side, Sean Hoehn had a tremendous game. He was 5 of 8 from the field and 5 of 6 from the arc. He was unstoppable on his three point shots. He also had four rebounds, two assists and two steals.  He led in points scored, topping out at 27. Another Pioneer that played well was Quincy McKnight. McKnight was 4 of 7 from the field, 2 of 3 from the arc and 1 of 2 for foul shots. He also recorded one rebound, three assists and two steals.

The game was over when the Pioneers led the game by double digits, as high as 74-57 with only one minute 40 seconds to play. Jones tried hard to make a comeback, as he hit a layup with only 23 seconds to play. He led CCSU with 14 points total. CCSU has a long way to go before we can become competitive in basketball. We will improve in due time as our team is still young.

CCSU shot 22 of 51 from the field, only three out of 12 for three pointers and 15 out of 18 at the foul line. The Blue Devils were 30 out of 32 on rebounds. Sacred Heart shot 24 of 51 from the field, 13 of 23 for three pointers and 16 out of 19 at the foul line.

With another loss, CCSU is 5-20 overall and 3-11 in the Northeast Conference. Sacred Heart has won 4 games in a row and improves to 12-15 overall and 7-7 in the NEC.

CCSU plays again on February 16th against Saint Francis University at home. The game is at 7 p.m. Let’s Go Blue Devils!

Lady Blue Devils Search For Answers

by Humera Gul

The Central Connecticut State University Women’s Basketball team had a tough go against Sacred Heart, digging a deeper hole in the Northeast Conference standing. The lady Blue Devils lost 82-61 to the Pioneers Saturday.

CCSU now moves to 9-15 overall, and 8-5 in the Northeast Conference.

The Blue Devils scored 25 points off of 22 turnovers committed by the Pioneers. Points were made by nine different players, showing CCSU’s versatility and chemistry on the court.

Kiana Patterson was 5 for 13 from the field, 3 for 9 from the arc and 3 out of 3 on foul shots. Patterson led the league in points, scoring at 22. She also had a rebound, an assist and a steal. Ashley Chin also had a decent game, shooting 4 for 6 from the field and 1 of 3 from the arc. She also had 1 assist and 2 steals. In total, Chin had 11 points total and was the second highest scorer for the Blue Devils.

Hannah Kimmel led the pioneers on Saturday. She was 7 of 14 from the field, 4 of 7 from the arc and 1 out of 2 on foul shots. She also had an astounding 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal and a block. Kimmel finished the game with 22 points. Katherine Haines also played well, tailing Kimmel slightly. Haines was 9 of 14 from the field, 1 of 2 from the arc and 3 out of 4 for foul shots. She finished with 19 points.

One of the major issues for the Blue Devils in the second half was fouls. Multiple starters got fouls in the second half. On top of that, Sacred Heart was great on foul shots and capitalized on the opportunities.

Sacred Heart finished the day with 27 of 54 from the field, 13 of 23 from the arc and 15 out of 20 in foul shots. All averages were 50 percent or better. CCSU finished the day with 21-64 from the field, 6 of 26 from the arc and 13 of 24 in foul shots, a major disappointment considering the team was shooting under 33 percent from the field and the arc. Field goals percentage was 32.8 and 23.1 percent from the arc. CCSU will look to improve as the season dwindles down.

Sacred Heart moves to 13-11 overall and 10-3 in the Northeast Conference. CCSU will close out the road game series on Monday, February 13, at Fairleigh Dickinson at 7 p.m. The next home game will be this coming weekend, hosting Robert Morris at 1 p.m. at the Breast Cancer Awareness game.

Aleah Epps: The Silent Leader of the Blue Devils

by Kimberly Pena

As Aleah Epps strides through her last season as a Blue Devil guard, she only wants to be remembered as one thing from her career here at Central Connecticut State University, a leader.

“Everyone listens to me,” said Epps. “I am not really loud, I am not the type to get in your face or anything. I will calmly come to you and say, hey that wasn’t a good shot, but you know what we are going to keep pushing you and working with you.”

That type of attitude has certainly worked with her teammates as they look up to her as a role model and as someone who will push each player in the team in being the best they can be.

“We definitely turn to Aleah as our leader,” said sophomore teammate Andi Lydon. “She does a good job of finding our teammates on the floor. The good thing about Aleah is that she knows everyone’s strengths. If you are a shooter, she knows where to look for you. If you get to the basket she looks for you cutting. I think that’s what makes her so good is that she knows her teammates and knows when to get us the ball.”

Epps says she knows team chemistry is what is most important and it has been something that she holds strongly since the beginning of her playing hoops.

Epps a native from Bowie, Maryland played as a regular starter for the basketball team at Archbishop Spalding High School. She says although experiencing success with her old team, it made her adjustment to Central Connecticut State University a very low moment in her career as she faced limited playing time.

“Coming from a team where I was starting and we just won a championship back-to-back, I think that was hard for me,” said Epps. “I had to adjust and just know my place, know my role and when I was called upon I’ll be able to go out there and do my thing.”

However, she said that growth and change of role allowed herself to enjoy basketball more and grow character not only as a player, but as an individual.

“It (basketball) is the foundation of everything, just trying to use it to get where I want to be,” said Epps. “But at the same time it put me where I am supposed to be. I never knew that. In high school, I didn’t take it that serious, but after college, I feel like it is everything and that makes a big difference.”

In her final year as a Blue Devil, Epps has averaged 12 points per game and has an 82% free-throw success rate, both categories highest among her teammates. But, she knows personal statistics is not what matters, it is getting the team into the championships. A goal she has set for herself since coming to Central.

“I know I want to get to the championships. I think we have the potential,” said Epps. “We put in the work every day, we have the talent.”

She understands that she will not be returning to the court next year with her teammates and that is why she wants to make sure her presence is not forgotten. Although the team without Epps may be scary for some of her teammates, they are all aware that day will come.

“I definitely think it is going to be a transition because she’s our main ball handler and our facilitator,” said Lydon. “She is going to be big shoes to fill.”

However, the team has no need to worry about that now as they still have Epps for the remaining eight games of the regular season and maybe even longer if they make a run in the tournaments.

Epps just wants to continue to play her game and lead her team to championships galore as the final hurrah of the Aleah Epps story.

Blue Devils Don’t Reach Lucky Seven

by Kimberly Pena

The lady Blue Devils hot streak came to an end with a crushing 87-81 loss to St. Francis University, snapping their six-game winning streak. The lost tainted Central Connecticut’s perfect North East Conference play record to 6-1. The Blue Devils’ season record now stands at 7-11.

The Blue Devils started the game on a hot start with a 9-2 run. Sophomore Kiana Patterson was in part responsible for the first good quarter as she scored 12 points and was 5-of-6 shooting, which included 2 three-pointers. The Blue Devils ended the quarter with a 26-20 lead after the Red Flash scored 9 straight points in the last three minutes of the first quarter. All points came from NEC’s scoring leader Jessica Kovatch.

The momentum would remain with the Red Flash as they began the second quarter on a 17-2 run.  About seven minutes into the second quarter, the Red Flash would take its first lead of the game from a three-pointer by Mya Wynn.

The Blue Devils did not help their own cause as they turned over the ball 12 times. Sophomore Andi Lydon tried to  give life back to the Blue Devils with a bank-shot which ended a five-minute scoring drought and cutting the lead to 39-30 with 4:38 to go.

Freshman Taylor Goode came off the bench to continue to bring the sparks of life to Central. She connected with Patterson for back-to-back transition shots in the final minutes before the half to bring down the lead 45-40.  Kovatch ended the first quarter with 22 points.

The Blue Devils opened up the second half with another hot run of their own, going 10-5. This included 5 straight shots from Lydon to help Central regain the lead 50-49. But the Red Flash found their groove once again to head into the fourth quarter with a 68-67 lead over Central.

With a little over seven minutes into the final quarter, freshman Ashley Chin connected to Lydon for a three-pointer, Lydon’s fourth three-pointer of the quarter of the game. But the red-hot Kovatch scored 3 consecutive shots to give SFU an 8-point lead with less than five minutes left in the quarter.

With less than two minutes in the game and the streak on the line, Lydon scored a jump shot to make it a one possession game, and dropped in 2 free throws, making the score 82-81. But Kovatch would not allow it as she scored her ninth three-pointer of the game to end the ladies’ winning streak.

Kovatch finished the game with a whopping 45 points, a career high. Lydon also finished the game with a career high 29 points and had 14 rebounds. Central’s own Giocelis Reynoso finished the game with 20 rebounds and added 5 blocked shots and Aleah Epps led with 6 assists.

Central shot 30-for-75 from the field compared to SFU who made 33-of-83 of its attempts. The Blue Devils out-rebounded SFU 59-41 and had more assists, 16-14. But the Blue Devils turned over the ball 21 times compared to Red Flash who turned over the ball 10 times.

The Blue Devils look to go on another win streak when they face Bryant University on their home turf Saturday, Jan. 28 at 1 p.m.

Hoops for Homeless Supports Children in New Britain Community

by Tyler Roaix

The fourth annual Hoops for Homeless event took place April 30 in New Britain. The event is an all-ages annual 3-on-3 basketball tournament staged on Main Street in downtown New Britain next to Central Park. All proceeds from this event will be given to local projects that will directly address homelessness in New Britain. The Boys and Girls Club of New Britain, the Friendship Service Center of New Britain and the Prudence Crandall Center headline the beneficiaries.

Jacob Werblow is a professor of Teacher Education at Central Connecticut and also one of the co-founders of the tournament.

“This is a fundraiser as well as advocacy for children and family who are homeless in New Britain,” said Werblow. “So all the money that’s raised, all the proceeds raised from this event are given directly to organizations that work to support children and families in our community.”

According to Werblow, there are over 200 children in the New Britain public school system who are classified as homeless. This doesn’t necessarily mean they live on the streets. They could be residing in temporary housing, living with a neighbor or family member or even living with other families in a one bedroom complex.

Camden Musgrave, a player on the CCSU women’s team, was also a referee for the event. She shared what it’s like to be a part of the experience.

“We’re here to support our community and help our kids grow to be great athletes, one day hopefully they support Central. We like to encourage sportsmanship both on and off the court from both parents and players,” said Musgrave.

“Referees as well as many CCSU students are behind the scenes who help setup, help distribute materials, helping with the event,” said Werblow. “So we are very blessed to have everyone here.”

Registration for the benefit was $50 per team this year. More information can be found at ccsu.edu/hoopsforhomeless or at the group’s Facebook page.

Contributed reporting by Chante Davis.

Welcome, Donyell

by Dillon Meehan

After days of speculations and rumors, Central Connecticut officially announced the hiring of Donyell Marshall last Wednesday.

The following day, CCSU held a press conference in Founder’s Hall to formally introduce Marshall as the tenth coach in the programs history.

After landing a job as an assistant at the University of Buffalo, Marshall will be taking his first job as a head coach.

Marshall will be replacing Howie Dickenman, who is not only the man who coached him at UConn, but recruited him out of high school.

“You look at the career he has had, and the money he has made, and he is still one of the most humble, thankful and appreciative people you will ever meet,” said Dickenman about his former player.

It will be a tough situation for Marshall, who is being brought in to turn around a program that has been stagnant for the past few years. Luckily enough, he has the experience of playing under not only coach Jim Calhoun, but also under Jerry Sloan and with Lebron James.

“When you have a guy like that in your corner who has won three national championships, to be able to pick up the phone and call a guy like that is relaxing,” said Marshall following his press conference. “I’ve learned a lot from the greats that I played with and sometimes being able to call those guys and giving them a chance to talk to those guys in front of the team has always been helpful.”

Calhoun attended the press conference with his son, Jeffery, who roomed with Marshall while at UConn.

“When [Stephen] Curry hit those 12 three pointers last week who’s record did he tie? Donyell Marshall’s. When the Cavs drafted Lebron James number one overall in 2003, who did they have him live with? Donyell Marshall, because of his mature approach to the game. I think Central is getting a really special guy,” said Calhoun of his former player.

Marshall said he told players on Wednesday that the season has already begun. With seven months until the season opener, many expect this team to learn from his high basketball IQ.

“It felt great, I had a one-on-one talk with him and it was awesome. He told me about how excited he was for the future and everything he intends to do for us, and I think he’s going to do a great job at it,” said freshman forward Evan Phoenix.

The hope is that Marshall’s 15-year NBA experience will help bring in recruits. Marshall was the recruiting coordinator and helped with player development while helping lead Buffalo to consecutive NCAA tournament appearances and the first team to win back-to-back Mid-American Conference titles in 14-years.

Lack of Rotation Continues To Hurt Blue Devils

by Dillon Meehan

It has been a rough stretch over the past five years for Central Connecticut’s Mens Basketball team. The team has a combined record of 42-85 dating back to 2011, and the last time the team finished with a winning record was back during the 2010 season.

This season has not been kind to the Blue Devils either, three weeks into the season the Blue Devils are currently 0-7, having lost four of their games this season by 16 points or more. In the three single digit losses, the Blue Devils have somehow found a way to consistently make mental mistakes. Whether it was poor foul shooting, increased turnovers or getting into foul trouble, there was always a mental error that was the main cause for the loss.

After a handful of years finishing just under the .500 [50 percent winning percentage] mark for the season, last year was brutal for Blue Devil fans. Preseason injuries and off the field issues left the team without much depth, and forced the Blue Devils and Head Coach Howie Dickenmann to rely heavily on his starters. Which would often lead to players being extremely fatigued in the closing minutes of each game, leading to missed free throws or shots falling just short. This ultimately led to the Blue Devils losing the majority of their close games.

Despite seeing this situation play out for almost 30 games last season, it appears as though history is repeating itself once again for the Blue Devils. Despite having signed five freshmen over the offseason and have three starters returning, managing minutes continues to be a major issue.

In the opener against Hartford in the Connecticut 6 Classic, junior guard Khalen Cumberlander played 49 out of 50 minutes, and every minute of the second half and overtime. Despite coming back from a season full of minor nagging issues, Dickenmann decided to run his best player into the ground on the very first night. Six games later, not much has changed. Apart from last week’s blowout loss against Fordham, where Cumberlander only played 27 minutes, he has played 35 minutes or more in four of the past five outings.

It goes without saying that coaches need to rely on their best players in order to win games, but players need rest in order to consistently play at a high level. The depth is there, players such as Kevin Seymour, Jahlil Nails, Austin Nehls and J.J. Cratit are all worthy of earning play-time, eventually lineup changes have to be made.

With the Blue Devils having such depth at the guard position, it’s puzzling to see Dickenmann refuse to rest arguably his best player. While it might not yet be a problem, the wear and tear of playing a significant amount of time in November and December, can have major repercussions during conference play in January and February.

With only a handful of games left before conference play starts in January, Dickenmann needs to find out how to balance his players time on the field and trust his younger players to carry the load.

Sitting Down with Brandon Peel

by Analisa Novak

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Photo by: Devin Leith-Yessian

Brandon Peel came to Central Connecticut almost four years ago from Forestville, Maryland ready to take to the courts on through a new perspective.

In the recent years, CCSU had major offensive player departures, leaving a huge whole on the roster. Peel, coming from a defensive background his whole life, stepped into the offensive role as forward and has continuously excelled in it.

You would have never figured by watching him play that he just recently became a forward. “I really like it, anything to help the team win. I do want to leave with a thousand point score,” said Peel.

At the rate Peel is playing he will beat that thousand point goal, he is currently sitting at 800.

Peel has been playing league basketball since he was five and said he hasn’t stopped since then, “I started young, during kindergarten playing for a little league for my elementary school and fell in love with it ever since.”

When it comes to training, he relies on his speed as an advantage during games. “I do a lot of running because I know I can beat a lot of people my size on the floor and I do a lot of midrange shooting which has become my forte on the court,” said Peel.

Peel has become a mentor to many of new faces putting on the blue and white CCSU jersey. “At times it can become kind of nerve racking knowing I’m one of the only ones with real experience on the team but at this point they are physically ready, it’s just learning the game and learning to play the game with their heads and not their body.”

Peel, who is team captain, stated he sees a lot of hope for the upcoming future, “Although we have a very young team this year, I am very confident that the team will start pulling away wins, they are still learning how to play the game at the division one level but I’m really confident about the upcoming season.”

In a short four years, Peel accomplished a lot and with five days of practice and a full-time school schedule. It’s amazing how he keeps himself centered, “I’ve always lived by, if you work hard, great things will come,” said Peel.

Peel, an English major has also maintained a 3.0 GPA throughout his four years and plans to graduate with it. “People always say that being an athlete and balancing school is all about time management and finding the time to get my work done.”

As an English major, Peel wants a career in writing after he tries to peruse a professional career in basketball overseas. “Right now going overseas to play basketball is my primary goal. But at the same time, getting my education is also on the top of the list. I wouldn’t put them on top of each other, I would say these two goals are side-by-side.”

Catch number 34, Brandon Peel play his last season as a Blue Devil at their next home game Friday, Dec. 18th against UMass Lowell.