Category Archives: Sports

Blue Devils Head to NIT


Peter Collin / Managing Editor

The CCSU women’s basketball team was awarded their first ever trip to the National Invitational Tournament on Monday. The trip to the NIT is the women’s first trip to postseason play beyond the Northeast Conference Tournament. 

The Blue Devils (18-13) were automatically awarded a spot in the tournament after the Sacred Heart Pioneers won the NEC championship over the St. Francis (PA) on Sunday. As the second seed during the regular season, the Blue Devils gained the automatic bid.

Their first match up will be against Boston University on Thursday, March 19, time has yet to be announced.

“Playing in the postseason will be a great experience for our players,” head coach Beryl Piper said in an interview with CCSUBlueDevils.com.  

The Blue Devils finished last during the 2007-08 season and were picked to finish there again this season by the NEC Preseason Coaches’ Poll. 

But the Blue Devils completed the largest turnaround in NCAA women’s basketball this season, improving by 14 wins from the ‘07-‘08 when they won four games.

It was the Blue Devils first trip to the NEC Tournament since 2005 when Robert Morris defeated CCSU 72-39 in the quarterfinals. The Blue Devils come up short in this year’s NEC Tournament, falling in the semifinals against the Red Flash 73-62.

The Blue Devils are lead by a talented core of young players including sophomore Kerrianne Dugan who was named to the All-NEC second team and freshman Shontice Simmons who was a selection for the NEC All-Rookie team.

Staying Grounded with Jason Page


By Kyle Dorau / Sports Editor

The commercials finish airing and there is minimal buildup. The radio goes from zero to a hundred miles per hour in mere seconds.

“Get ready for four hours of The Back Page in your future!” The man with the booming voice who is shouting those words seems extremely comfortable in the small radio booth in which he stands.

This is how Jason Page welcomes the listeners to his show based out of ESPN Radio 1410 in Hartford.

The program also airs locally on ESPN Radio 1300 in New Haven, and has been around for over a year.

The first time I met Jason Page was in the press box at Arute Field for a CCSU football game.  He strolled in after the game had started, and sat down immediately to my left with the producer of his show, Evan Wilner, in tow.

Over the course of the game, we talked and realized we shared a mutual co-worker. By the end of the game, he was telling me details about his contract negotiations with Clear Channel.

At the time, I thought to myself, “Wow, what an ego.” But in a business like sports radio, ego is an essential tool of the trade. Radio personalities are in charge of hours of show time, they’re the star and what they say goes. They can’t be as successful as Page without a dominant personality.

The ego seems primarily based on pride in his accomplishments and knowledge of the sports world. There are times where he seems self-conscious, but that works in sync with his decisiveness – the same decisiveness that allows him to rant and speak freely in each segment of his program for four hours at a time.

While Page does have the characteristics of a sports talk radio host with his outgoing personality and off-the-cuff opinions, he’s a lot more like the fans than the typical sports media. He openly admits that he would rather be in the stands with fans than be on press row.

He is not a journalist, and doesn’t try to toe that line. He’s a commentator who clearly enjoys his job, even if it is grueling at times.

And comment he does. On anything and everything. Even during our interview, he would comment on anything that caught his eye, or in this case, nose. Someone who apparently overdid it with cologne walked by, and Page paused for a moment.

“God, did he drown himself in that stuff?” he asked, stopping in mid-sentence. “You smell that?” He also managed to interrupt a conversation about the Yankees to point out how terrible the pizza provided by CSU was.

Opinions like those are what make Page polarizing. Those who listen to his show either love him or hate him. What matters to him is the fact that those people are listening.

“People who don’t like me are still listening to me, which is what I like even more,” he says.  “Fine, you disagree with me, but you’re still listening to me, so you must find me entertaining on some level.”

A fan base in particular that he finds opposition from is that of Red Sox Nation. His strong opinions tend to irk Boston fans at times, who accuse him of being a New York homer.

“They can’t be objective, and they hate anybody who is,” he said about Red Sox fans. “All people hear is me knocking on the Red Sox. They won’t hear when I praise the Red Sox.”

Another group who seems to have Page pegged as biased against their team are fans of  the University of Connecticut teams. His criticism of Hasheem Thabeet has been a hot-button topic for Huskies fans in the past 12 months.

It might also be fueled by the fact that Page pays attention to CCSU sports and those of the smaller schools in the area. He regularly interviews coaches from Central, Quinnipiac and Yale on his program.

“There’s something more to Connecticut sports than just the UConn Huskies,” he said. “UConn loves the fact that they have a monopoly on the whole state, and I want to try and break that up a little bit and let people realize that… you’ve got two [other] talented teams in our listening area.”

Those quotes are his honest opinions, and that honesty is what makes Page refreshing to listen to.  The way he carries himself on the air is exactly who he is off the air.

“If you’re phony, people are going to hear it,” he said.

Wilner, the show’s producer, attests that Page is a radio personality in every sense of the words.  “He’s very talented,” Wilner said. “A lot of on-air talent, they can be assholes at times. Jason certainly fits that at times, but there are other times where he’s the easiest person in the world to work with.”

Both Wilner and Page worked in the sports department at Sirius Satellite Radio before coming to Hartford, and their working relationship continues to evolve as time goes on.

“He allows me a lot of freedom,” says Wilner.

Page has carried a torch for smaller schools like CCSU and Quinnipiac in the time that The Back Page has been on the air.

Howie Dickenman and Tom Moore, the head coaches for each school’s Men’s Basketball program, each do a weekly interview with Page on the air.

Page described Howie as very “old-school,” and “the antithesis” of Blue Devils Football coach Jeff McInerney, who is widely recognized as more media-friendly.

He recalls the story of how he was approached to book Coach Mac as a guest by CCSU’s Sports Information Director.

“Tom Pincince called us up and he was like, ‘you guys should have Coach Mac on during the season.’ And I was like, ‘Good lord, it’s CCSU Football for crying out loud!’”

Page remembered how McInerney’s personality won him over.

“The first day we talked to him, he came in the studio. As soon as he walked out, I looked at Wilner and said, ‘We’ve got to have him on every week.’ He’s such a character, and he makes you want to have him on.”

In a market where there is a clear demand for sports, The Back Page is a locally driven show which touches on national issues.  It’s an alternative to New York or Boston stations that ignore Connecticut, or local talk stations that only have time to discuss sports for an hour or two a day.

His focus on Central is a major reason to tune into The Back Page. College students are not typically the target demographic for sports talk radio, especially in this age of iPods and mp3 players.

“We’re fun. It’s a fun show. It’s not typical X’s and O’s sports radio,” Page said. “If you’re the pocket-protector-wearing sports geek who wants to talk about the backup tight end on the New York Giants, you’re not going to want to listen to this show.”

Dorau The [Sports] Explorer: Bilas Misses Big Picture for Big Dance

 

By Kyle Dorau / Sports Editor

In the CCSU Men’s Basketball media guide, freshman guard Robby Ptacek said the reason he chose to play here at Central was “for a chance to play in the NCAA Tourney.”  If Jay Bilas of ESPN has his way, Ptacek will never set foot in the Big Dance.

I understand that part of the ESPN-ization of the world means that their talking heads are the singular voices for movements like this, but the absurdity of Bilas’ plan to improve the quality of the NCAA Tournament is vocal enough where he can be referenced as its leader.

Bilas has encouraged the idea that the top 65 teams be included in the tournament, eliminating the automatic berths from each conference.  His arguments in defense of doing so are all fatally flawed.

So how exactly would we go about selecting the top 65 teams?  Maybe we should use the current polls in place combined with computer selection?  The BCS is a joke.  If the NCAA Tournament goes to that formula, it would be regressing in entertainment value.  We clamor in the fall for a playoff system in football, and here in basketball season, we have that coveted playoff system, and now we’re in danger of screwing it up.

According to his article, Bilas says the argument in favor of automatic bids “is a sentimental one.” While there may be a hint of truth to that, it is far more an argument against exclusion, inequity, greed, and monopolization.

So I ask, if automatic bids are removed from the NCAA Tournament, then what the hell are all the players here at CCSU playing for? 

When I stormed the court with hundreds of other fans in March of 2007, it wasn’t simply because the Blue Devils won the Northeast Conference, it was because they were going to the big dance and the players that worked so hard were finally going to get their shot on the national stage.

Sixteen total conferences would have their automatic bids revoked under Bilas’ plan, including the NEC. He cites each small conference’s lack of success in March Madness, which is a part of what makes the tournament so great.

It means West Cupcake University from the South-Central Great Lakes Athletic Conference gets their opportunity to play against the best that the NCAA has to offer. 

They have the same road to take to a National Championship as all the other teams.  Six wins, and congratulations, The West Cupcake Fightin’ Bunny Rabbits are your National Champions. 

Let’s not overlook the aspect that nobody will talk about. Once again, sports becomes about the almighty dollar. Of course the BCS conferences would love to keep small conference teams out of an NCAA Tournament that would quickly become their own personal playground. 

There would not be any true upsets, because the vast majority of teams in the field would be from major conferences that have a far larger recruiting base than mid-majors and schools from small conferences.

Part of the famous line from The Shawshank Redemption is “hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things.” When Central made it into the Tournament in 2007, obviously there was less than a slim chance that the Blue Devils would win. In fact, I expected the team to lose by a lot more than 21 points.

What kept running through my mind leading up to the game against Ohio State was the fact that Central still had a chance.

It might have been a one in a million shot, but they had the opportunity to be the first ever 16 seed to defeat a top seeded team. They even stood on the same ground as the 64 other teams to win a national title, if you ignore the running joke that is the play-in game.

The beauty of the setup is that a powerhouse one or two seed is rewarded for a good season with first round game against a lower-tier team. The Tournament in its current format is the ultimate meritocracy.

If a team did not get in, they have nothing to blame but their body of work, not a team from a one-bid conference.

Even with 31 bids being considered automatic, that allows for 34 other teams to get in.  We’re supposed to believe there are more than 34 true contenders for a National Championship?

If automatic bids are removed as a qualifier for the NCAA Tournament, that undying hope, that opportunity for a bonafide miracle to occur will forever disappear. Not just for CCSU, but for all the teams in the NEC and every other conference that may not be as high-profile as the BCS schools.

But that’s okay, Mr. Bilas. Just take away everything that the Men’s Basketball team is playing for here at Central. 

Ignore the dream of Robby Ptacek and hundreds of other players at smaller schools across the country. You keep doing that and we’ll keep ignoring your plan to “improve” the tournament. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.

Saints Baptize Blue Devils

By Christopher Boulay / Asst. Sports Editor

CCSU women’s lacrosse dropped their home opener at Arute Field against Siena, by a score of 15-9 on Sunday afternoon.

The Blue Devils (0-4) went down 2-0 early due to goals by Siena’s Dierdre McQuillan and Caitlin Mikel. After the early stumble, CCSU surged to score four goals in less than four minutes, to take a 4-2 lead with Courtney Mooney, Alexa Smead, Lyndsey Mastandrea and Ashley Perkoski cashing in.

Coach Rachel Tringali was pleased with the Blue Devils’ early efforts on all fronts. “We played the best first half this season,” she said.

“We did a great job in transition.”

Lindsey Rosecrands led the scoring for the Saints (2-1), scoring four goals and adding two assists. Mikel and McQuillan each scored hat tricks, Courtney Highsmith and Allie Kain each scored two, and Ryan Tierney scored a second half goal.

For the Blue Devils, Stephanie John, Mastandrea and Perkoski each scored two, while Smead, Mooney and Michele Conway all scored one.

The game fluctuated throughout the first half, with four ties and two lead changes.

Siena’s (2-1) Kristin Concordia made 10 saves for the Saints, while Blue Devils goalkeeper Alice Lee had 20 saves in a losing effort.

“We have a great goalie in Alice Lee, but sometimes we rely on [defense] too much,” Tringali said.

CCSU’s dependence on defense would come back to bite them, as they gave up four goals because of unsuccessful clears during the match, finishing 12-16 in clears, while Siena was a perfect 6-6.

The Saints were able to pull away in the second half, with Courtney Highsmith scoring what would be the first of four-straight goals for the Saints, and put the game out of reach. Siena outscored CCSU 6-2 in the half.

“We came out flat in the second half and we couldn’t recover. We couldn’t find our groove. We didn’t capitalize when we had to,” Tringali said.

Tringali also formulated what the Blue Devils will have to do to carry the strong first half play into a 60-minute effort.

“We need to maintain more possession on attack and [have] more ball movement on attack,” she said.

CCSU received six yellow cards in the game, while Siena received two. The Saints outshot the Blue Devils 41-20, and CCSU also lost the turnover battle, committing 25 to Siena’s 19.

“Turnovers hurt us. Sometimes we try to force things instead of allowing things to flow,” she said.

CCSU played Quinnipiac Tuesday in their Conference home opener. They will be in action again at Arute Field on March 18 against Detroit Mercy at 7 p.m.

William Paterson Single-Handedly Defeats Blue Devils

By Kyle Dorau / Sports Editor

Central Connecticut Ice Hockey had its season come to an end at the hands of William Paterson in the Super East League Semifinals. The Blue Devils fell 4-1 to the Pioneers, who won all three games between the two teams this season.

Senior goaltender Craig Height made 28 saves and Mike DiClemente scored Central’s lone goal in a losing effort. Joe Dabkowski and Rob DiClemente each earned a helper on the only CCSU tally. The Pioneers utilized a two-goal third period to put the game away.

CCSU reached the Semifinals by defeating the Montclair State Hawks by a score of 6-2 at the neutral site Albany Country Hockey Facility. Central’s offense was powered by Joe Dabkowski’s four-goal effort. Craig Prema and Mike DiClemente each chipped in a pair of assists as the Blue Devils scored two goals in each period en route to the win. Other scorers for CCSU included Jeff Pease and Matt Williams. Carmine Vetrano got the start in net and made 34 saves to earn the victory.

The Blue Devils once again made their presence known in the Super East awards. Senior forward Mike DiClemente was the Super East Player of the Year, recognizing a regular season that saw him average more than two points per game while putting up 20 goals and 59 points. Excelling off the ice, Joe Dabkowski, Craig Prema, Brett Holmes and Michael Joy all were named to the All-Academic team. Finally, freshman forward Jeff Pease was selected to the Super East All-Rookie team.

The Blue Devils will be heavily represented in the first ever ACHA Division II All-Star Challenge. The event pits all-star teams from leagues around the country against one another in the first week of April. Players from the Blue Devils on the team include the top line of Joe Dabkowski and the DiClemente brothers, defensemen Kevin Butler and Ryan Beaulieu, as well as goalie Carmine Vetrano.

The Pioneers were blown out 8-1 in the SECHL Finals by Siena. The same score that the Saints put up on CCSU a year ago in the League Championship. Siena won the Super East for the second consecutive year. They swept the season series with the Blue Devils this season, outscoring Central 17-1.