Category Archives: Basketball

Jim Calhoun Honored At CCSU Versus Quinnipiac

Jim Calhoun being questioned by the media at the CCSU-Quinnipiac basketball game. Photo: Corey Pollnow

By Corey Pollnow

Jim Calhoun was honored for his basketball contributions prior to the start of the CCSU-Quinnipiac Men’s Basketball game in Hamden on Thursday evening.

The two schools donated $1,000 to the Jim and Pat Calhoun Cardiology Center for the notoriety Calhoun has brought to the state.

Calhoun’s wife Pat asked him who he was going to root for and he responded ,“Basketball.”

Calhoun remains passionate about the sport.

“I miss basketball. I love walking around the floor. I love going to practice. I was there yesterday with Kevin [Ollie], and talking with Kevin about the game for hours” said Calhoun.

Although the attention before the game was on Calhoun, once the official threw the ball up at mid court the attention turned to Coach’s Howie Dickenman and Tom Moore, two of Calhoun’s former assistants who were battling it out for an NEC victory.

Coach Dickenman was an assistant under Calhoun for 14 years and Moore 13.

Calhoun told an amusing story about a recruiting trip with Coach Dickenman.

“I’ve never met anybody like Howie. In all honesty. We were going to see a kid up in Buffalo one time and it was my first year actually. Howie is driving up there and [Howie] says, ‘Gotta get there at 6, gotta get there at 6!’”

“I said, ‘Howie, how far away is this?’”

“‘[Howie says] Up this ramp.’”

“I said, ‘Howie you’re going on the wrong way on this ramp.’ Howie says, “I told you 6 o’clock appointment.’ That same drive, that same aggressiveness is the same thing he did on the basketball court,” said Calhoun.

CCSU Men’s Basketball vs Quinnipiac

 

By Corey Pollnow

Injuries have plagued the CCSU Men’s basketball team this season, which was only worsened Thursday when Brandon Peel went down with an injury to his left ankle in an 85-78 loss to Quinnipiac.

Coach Dickenman was pitted against his protégé Tom Moore. The two coached together for two seasons at UConn as assistants to Jim Calhoun.

Unfortunately for CCSU, Moore has come out on top in the last seven games, with the victory over the Blue Devils, Moore tallied his 100th career win.

“Brandon Peel not being in the game was a factor, but it wasn’t why we lost” said Coach Dickenman.

Quinnipiac as a team shoots a dismal 30 percent from beyond the arc, but due to CCSU playing a zone to conserve energy, the Bobcats had many open looks.

“The last few minutes it felt like we ran out of gas. Everybody knows we don’t have much depth, but we gave it all we could” said Malcolm McMillan, a sophomore guard.

Coach Dickenman made no excuses for his team, though.

“When there’s 3 or 4 minutes left in the game you can’t afford to run out of gas. You’re playing on adrenaline. Fatigue is a mental thing, don’t make it a physical thing. You have to battle through that” said Coach Dickenman.

Quinnipiac’s Shaq Shannon had missed 32 of his 46 three-pointers on the season, but that narrative was different vs CCSU. Shannon was hot from behind the arc and hit 6 of his 10 threes.

“With the zone they were daring us to make some three and trying to catch their breath” said Coach Moore.

One of Quinnipiac’s fortes is their ability to rebound. Moore’s team is 8th in the country in rebounding and the Bobcats out rebounded CCSU by a 51 to 31 margin. Ike Azotam dominated the glass for the Bobcats with 17 rebounds. Trying to contain him was a burden for the Blue Devils.

CCSU struggled at the free throw line and Coach Dickenman stomped his feet in frustration numerous times because collectively, the Blue Devils missed ten free throws. That’s out of the ordinary for the Blue Devils considering they shoot 76 percent collectively from the charity stripe.

“At one time in the season we were the number one free throw shooting team in the country out of 347 teams and we’re slipping and sliding. I don’t have the answer for it yet” said Coach Dickenman.

Kyle Vinales led CCSU in the scoring department with 32 points, but Vinales rode the pine late when the game was close because he was fatigued. Coach Howie Dickenman wasn’t pleased with his body language on the floor.

Although the game began with a tribute to Jim Calhoun, the post-game press conference with Moore spoke about Coach Dickenman’s character.

“He’s as good a person and as good a friend as you can possibly have in this business. You don’t get anybody more loyal than him,” said Coach Moore.

“I was only with him there two years at UConn, but he taught me so much in my time at UConn about how to conduct yourself as a UConn assistant. He conveyed so much pride in UConn and being an assistant and how to deal with AAU coaches, high school coaches, recruiting and how to carry yourself,” said Coach Moore.

CCSU dropped to 7-12 on the season and 3-4 in the NEC. Their next game is at Monmouth on January 31st at 7 p.m.

Blue Devils Defeats Wagner

By Derek Turner

The Wagner Seahawks came out of halftime scoring six straight points to give the visitors a four point lead, but Kyle Vinales hit back-to-back threes firing up the Detrick Gymnasium crowd and the Blue Devils would not look back.

“I hit the second one and the crowd got into it a lot; it gave us energy,” said sophomore Kyle Vinales.

The game went back and forth for most of the first half as there were eight lead changes and until 5:25 left in the half, neither team had led by more than four points. Matt Hunter led the Blue Devils in the first half with 11 points and seven rebounds as the Odessa Junior College transfer continues to fill up the stat sheet night in and night out. Hunter got the scoring started with a layup and then a three getting CCSU out to a 5-2 start.

Malcolm McMillan and Adonis Burbage would get in on the action early with a jump shot and a three respectively to give Central a 10-6 lead. Wagner would then come back to take an 11-10 lead on a layup by their leading scorer Kenneth Ortiz. The rest of the half was a game of runs. The Blue Devils went on a 7-2 run over the next five minutes to take a 17-13 lead, but Wagner answered right back with four straight points to tie the game at 17. CCSU would gain their largest lead of the first half with 3:37 remaining after an 11-2 run capped by an NBA range three pointer from Vinales as the shot clock expired. Josh Thompson of Wagner would answer with a three ball of his own, but Burbage fired right back. Eric Fanning hit one for the Seahawks which would begin a 5-0 run to end the first half. The Blue Devils entered the locker room up 33-31.

The Seahawks came out of the break firing as Ortiz, Johnathon Williams and Latif Rivers would drop in two points to give Wagner their largest lead of the game 37-33 early in the second half. Vinales then hit the two biggest shots of the game. Back-to-back from beyond the arc cut the Wagner lead to one and then a mid-range jump shot by Joe Efese caused Wagner to take a timeout.

“Those are the situations where we need a player to step up,” said head coach Howie Dickenman on his lone senior Joe Efese.

CCSU was in the midst of an 18-4 run which lasted 6:32. A layup by Hunter at the midpoint of the second half tied the largest lead of the night for Central as they led 53-43. Ortiz and Rivers followed with five straight made free throws, including three at once by Rivers when McMillan fouled the shooter on a three point attempt. Ortiz hit a three 43 seconds later to cut the Seahawk deficit to two. Central Connecticut did not pull away, but they kept a safe distance for the rest of the game, never letting Wagner within four points.

After missing their first four free throws of the game while only taking one in the first half, the Blue Devils hit 14 of 23 in the second half, far from their 77.4 percent on the season, good for 6th in the nation, but it was good enough down the stretch as Central Connecticut defeated Wagner College 73-66 in front of an announced crowd of 2217 in Detrick Gymnasium Thursday night.

“We were a little tense at the end, because we weren’t making our free throws, but we did and we stopped them and we got rebounds and forced some turnovers down the stretch,” said Dickenman.

Kyle Vinales led all scorers with 30 points while adding six rebounds and five assists; he was 8-17 shooting and 4-8 from long range while dropping in 10-14 free throws. This is the 3rd time this season and fifth in his career Vinales has gone for at least 30 points and the six rebounds is a career high. Hunter followed with 13 points and eight rebounds while Burbage and Efese each dropped in 10 for CCSU.

Brandon Peel continues to pull down the rebounds adding eight in the game and is averaging 10.8 per game in Northeast Conference play.

“Inside we strive ourselves on being tough, not really letting anyone in there, grabbing rebounds, and mostly backing these guys up if anyone gets behind them,” said forward Matt Hunter.

Kenneth Ortiz led the way for Wagner with 18 points and six assists with Eric Fanning and Latif Rivers contributing 13 and 12 respectively. The only rebounder in double-digits on the night was Orlando Parker with 11; a high school teammate of CCSU’s Adonis Burbage at Orlando Christian Prep.

“That was a real good win for us, because it dropped them to where we’re at and their a real good team,” said Vinales. “Coach D said it was probably one of the biggest games we’ll play all year, we certainly took on the challenge.”

CCSU Falls To Mt. Saint Mary

By Jose Campos

Despite an impressive offensive performance by Malcolm McMillan, the Blue Devils lost at home 80-75 to Mount St Mary (7-10, 2-4), bringing them to a 7-10 record for the season.

McMillian led his team with a career-high 26 points, going eight for 12 for shooting. He also dished out seven assists and grabbed six rebounds in a “wasted effort,” according to Coach Dickenman. The performance from the point guard is a milestone for him, because before tonight he had made only five field goals in a game while tonight he hit five shots from beyond the arc.

Kyle Vinales also had a good game finishing with 20 points, while Matt Hunter only had eight points and five rebounds because of foul trouble that resulted in him playing only 17 minutes.

In the first half, Central out shot their competitors by an impressive 60 percent from the field. Vinales scored 18 of his 20 in the first half helping the Blue Devils go on a 16-0 run. The Mount came back by playing defense. After back and forth runs, Sam Prescott hit a big three at the end of the first half that gave Mount St Mary a 39-38 lead.

“It was a game of runs, and they came into our house and played better defense,” said Dickenman.

The second half also saw great shooting performances by the Blue Devils, but the lack of defense seemed to be the answer for their shortcomings. Xavier Owens and Julian Norfleet who both scored 18 points each led the Mount in a big win on the road after losing three games on their road trip.

With less than seven minutes left in the second half Matt Hunter fouled out the game leaving CCSU trailing 60-63. A key scorer in the Blue Devils’ offense, the game was left up to Vinales and McMillian to get the home win. In the second half, Vinales was shut down by the Mount’s defense only scoring two points. The defense forced 17 turnovers.

A big three pointer by McMillan put the Blue Devils right back in contention trailing 65-68. After a big put back by the Mount’s Rashad Whack and a timeout, McMillan hit another three pointer that had them behind by two. Hungry for a win McMillan hit his third consecutive three in the last three minutes of regulation. The big shot by the point guard cut the lead by one. The Blue Devils would soon give up a huge turnover in which Julian Norfleet of the Mount made them pay with a three pointer of his own to push the lead to 77-71 and put the nail in the coffin for the Blue Devils.

Blue Devils Extend Win Streak To Three Games

By Corey Pollnow

In the early-bird game of a doubleheader on Saturday at Detrick Gym, the Women’s basketball team took on Wagner and stomped out the Seahawks 82-53.

With their third win in a row, CCSU improved to 9-7 overall and 3-2 in the Northeastern Conference and are tied with three other teams for fourth in the NEC.

CCSU was led by Kirsten Daamen who tied her season-high with 21 points and came up huge on the glass with 11 rebounds; six of them offensive.

“The guards did a really good job of passing the ball inside which always helps. The game plan was to go inside and look for if we have a shot or kick out for the guards to shoot it,” said Daamen.

Jaclyn Babe was very efficient in her 21 minutes on the floor. Babe tallied 19 points on nine for 13 shooting. She also picked up four rebounds and six assists; four of them to Daamen.

“We felt we could dominate inside against this team. They don’t have the bodies to play against our big kids. It’s a good day when our post players are scoring a lot of points for us. Were a good team when our post players are scoring. Jackie Babe was a big part of that. She had six assists on the night,” said Coach Piper.

The Blue Devils hammered the Seahawks on the glass by an astronomical margin of 61 to 23; 22 of the Blue Devils 61 rebounds came on the offensive end.

Jaclyn and Jessica Babe controlled the tempo by pushing the ball throughout the entirety of the game. Wagner struggled defensively in transition and the Blue Devils took full advantage of it by hitting a barrage of jumpers in transition.

Johnna Fisher gave CCSU some great minutes off the bench. Her presence and energy was instantaneous and was extremely active on both ends of the floor. In 11 minutes Fisher contributed 6 points and 6 rebounds and played stellar defense.

“When you have a game where everybody gets to play, and you have five freshmen on the floor at the end of the game, you know that’s a good day. We don’t have too many of those nights where we can play everybody. Most of our games in our conference are really close. It’s really nice to be able to come out today and be able to execute and do the things that we needed to do to give everybody an opportunity to play basketball today,” said Coach Piper.

In the preseason NEC poll CCSU was predicted to finish eighth in the conference. They continue to prove their pundits wrong as they’ve won five games in a row at Detrick Gym, but in order to come out on top of the NEC they’re going to have to against their opponents on the road.

The girls’ next game is at home on Saturday, January 26th at 1 p.m. vs St. Francis (NY).

Central Falls In CT Classic

By Matthew Aveni

The fourth annual Connecticut 6 classic was played Saturday at the University of Hartford.  The day was filled with buzzer beaters and overtime games; the last game of the day combined both when Central tipped off versus Fairfield University.

The Blue Devils have a difficult task this year replacing the schools number one and ten scorers in school history, Kenny Horton and Robbie Patcek respectively. Two integral parts of a team cannot be replaced in one season but Central Connecticut Head Coach, Howie Dickenman, did a great job bringing in new players and developing the current players on his roster.

Adonis Burbage has stepped up his play this season putting on 15 pounds and developing a knockdown jump shot.  Matt Hunter transferred into Central this year and can score at will.  He can create his own shot and be a catch and shoot type of player.  Kyle Vinales has an increased role this year being the primary scorer and target of most defenses.

Fairfield did exactly that. They attempted to slow down Vinales and make Hunter, Burbage and McMillan beat them.  Vinales got off to a quick start scoring five of Central’s first seven points.  The Stags responded by going on a 9-0 scoring run to make it 13-7.  Halfway through the first half, Central was scoring in bunches with ball movement and staggering threes from Burbage.

“We told Adonis to shoot if he has an open shot.  If he gets the ball when he is open and does not shoot we told him that we would take him out of the game.  Adonis is one of the best corner three point shooters in the conference and he will be a big part of our offense this year,” said Dickenman.

The half was finished slowly by each team but the Stags held a three point halftime lead.  The beginning of the second half was low scoring and displayed sloppy play by both teams.  Vinales hit a midrange jump shot with nine minutes to go to cut the Fairfield lead to just three points.

The three-point-shots kept coming in, Hunter hit a three with six minutes left to give the Blue Devils a two-point-lead. Central maintained its lead until the final minute of play where the Stags scored eight points to tie the game with time running down.

At the end of regulation Kyle Vinales had the ball in his hands but forced up a quick shot leaving time on the clock for Fairfield to score.

“I wish I could take that play back.  I shouldn’t have gone to the hoop with that much time on the clock.  It was a bad play on my part and it’s not what Coach wanted me to do,” said Vinales.

Overtime seemed like much of the first half.  Central scored five quick points to grab an early lead but the Stags came back hitting three’s of their own.  With only 40 seconds left on the clock the Blue Devils took the ball with the game tied at 63. Vinales had the ball and Joe Efese set a solid screen to try and set up a shot for Vinales, but he slipped and forced up a shot that was blocked by the Stags.  With the poor shot being forced up Fairfield pushed the ball up the court and was fouled with 2.3 seconds left in the game.  With the first free throw being made there was not much left the Blue Devils could do as they fell 64-63.

“I slipped and had to force up a shot that I never wanted to happen.  Coach drew up a play and I couldn’t get the job done,” said Vinales.

Coach Dickenman is very optimistic of the direction that his team is headed and is confident that his players can get the job done going into NEC play for the rest of the regular season.

 

Women’s Basketball Look To Make Run At Northeast Conference Title

By Derek Turner

The pieces are in place for the Central Connecticut Women’s Basketball team to make a run at a Northeast Conference title; they just need to stay healthy.

Head Coach Beryl Piper says she is excited for the season start and says the depth of this year will play a key role in how far this team can go.

“We have good depth which we didn’t have much of last year,” said Piper. “I think that’s going to make us better. We’re going to be stronger in the guard spots and our post players have more experience this year.”

The team is full of depth and experience. With the entire starting lineup returning and seven upper classmen on the roster the Blue Devils have no lack of leadership.

Point guards Jess Babe (2nd Team All-Conference selection last season) and Kaley Watras are leaders on the court by definition, but as coach Piper put it, they have to be leaders. Jaclyn Babe, Jess’s sister, also describes Lauren Arbogast as a vocal leader on the court.

Experience runs almost all the way through this team. Due to many injuries last season a lot of the freshman received plenty of minutes which add experience to the bench. This year’s freshmen look to make an immediate impact as well.

Raven Makins, Kayla Miller and Nicole Ferguson are three freshmen Piper pointed out as having the ability to make an immediate impact.

“Until we start playing in games with freshmen, you never know. They’re working hard in practice and they’re doing good things,” said Piper.

Last season the Blue Devils saw a lot of scoring opportunities coming in transition when they were running the floor, so the coaching staff has made a point this preseason to emphasize their speed and work to their strengths. In practice, Piper will set 17 seconds on the shot clock and make the players think to score. The goal is to take more shots than their opponents, something Piper said they didn’t always do last season.

“If we’re going to shoot the ball more, obviously we have to get all over the glass and dominate on the boards,” said Piper. “Going against the guys and getting offensive rebounds against the guys is good for us.”

CCSU’s all-time blocked shots leader, Kirsten Daamen returns for her senior season after spending the summer playing in Europe with the Dutch National Team. Her coach knows that her expectations are very high for the coming season, but she has the experience and the playing time to back it up and continue to be a force in the Blue Devil front court.

Daamen is not the only tall body Central has in the post Johanna Fisher, Amanda Harrington and Jameilia Dillon can sub in without losing much. Arbogast can also play the post if they want to go small and become a quicker, more defensive team, but she’s not even that small at 6’2”.

The Blue Devils have a tough out of conference schedule to begin the season. After URI they take on UMass and Hartford in New Britain and then travel to Texas. They finish the non-conference slate with the University of Miami Holiday Tournament with a game versus Miami and either Wisconsin or Delaware State. Northeast Conference play begins January 5 at Robert Morris and the first home conference game will be played January 12 against Bryant.

“I’m looking forward to getting into games and not just practice, have something to practice for,” said Jaclyn Babe, last season’s leading scorer with 15.9 points per game.

The team is almost ready for the season to start and make a run at the NEC title and strive for the NCAA tournament, a goal Jaclyn Babe said she would love to achieve, especially since this may be her and her fellow seniors last time ever playing competitive basketball.

“I feel like we have a lot of little intangibles to be successful this year and hopefully everything is on our side,” said Piper.