Category Archives: Sports

Blue Devils Defeat FDU Knights

Women’s Basketball Pulls Off Fourth Straight Conference Win

The Blue Devils continued their resurgence on Monday night by defeating the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights (9-16, 8-7) 71-69 at Rotman Center in Hackensack, N.J.

Central (16-9, 11-3) overcame a nine-point second half deficit to secure their first winning season since the 2000- 01.

Freshman Shontice Simmons led Central with 15 points while sophomore Justina Udenze put up her second consecutive double-double, pulling down 10 rebounds and scoring 12 points.

The Blue Devils lead by as many as eight points in the first half, but FDU chipped away at the CCSU lead before heading into the locker room with a two-point advantage.

Central trailed the Knights for most of the second half before they went on an 11-0 run that was capped off by a Udenze layup, giving them a two-point lead with 3:21 left in the game.

FDU managed to pull back in front but Central rallied again and gained the lead for good when sophomore Kerrianne Dugan nailed a three-point shot with 1:21 left in the game.

CCSU dominated the inside game against the Knights. The Blue Devils controlled the glass against, out-rebounding FDU 44-30 and they outscored the Knights in the paint 34-24.

Two other Blue Devils managed to tally double-digit points for the game. Sophomore Leanne Crockett put up 14 points and Gabrielle Ogelsby finished with 12.

The 16 wins are the most for the Blue Devils since the 1997-98 season when they tallied 17 victories and made their way to the semi-finals of the NEC tournament. The win is the Blue Devils fourth straight conference win.

The Blue Devils will take the court again this Saturday, Feb. 21 for Dr. Brenda Reilly Day at Detrick Gymnasium when they take on the St. Francis (N.Y.) Terriers at 4 p.m. Central with then host the conference leading Sacred Heart Pioneers on Monday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. in Detrick Gymnasium.

-Peter Collin, Managing Editor:

Blue Devils Fall at Home, Reach 1,000th Win

A game that was expected to be a historic victory for the CCSU Men’s Basketball program turned into a sobering loss at the hands of Fairleigh Dickinson.

The Blue Devils did not have an answer for FDU center and Connecticut native John Galvin as Central fell 80-73 at Detrick Gymnasium on Thursday night.

Galvin, a native of Weston, Conn., went off for a career-high 22 points on 10 of 12 shooting. He also added 13 rebounds, eight of which came on the offensive glass.

Central Connecticut had just seven offensive rebounds as a team. Galvin was aided by the performances of teammates Sean Baptiste and Cameron Tyler.

Baptiste scored 17 points for the Knights and eclipsed 1,000 points for his career. Tyler nearly put up a triple double by posting 23 points to go with eight rebounds and eight assists.

“Discouraging, depressing, disappointing,” lamented head coach Howie Dickenman. “The effort was minimal at best.”

Dickenman quickly focused on missed opportunities in his postgame comments.

“We had a pretty high number of missed layups. Might have been seven makeable layups in just the first half.”

Those missed layups combined with FDU making the most of their opportunities up close was the difference in the ballgame.

Central trailed for the vast majority of the game, by as many as 10 points late in the first half.

The Blue Devils were able to fight back and take a one-point lead with 3:28 remaining in the game. The cushion was short-lived, as FDU’s triumvirate of Galvin, Tyler, and Baptiste all made baskets as part of an 8-0 run in the following 1:46.

The lone bright spots for CCSU included Robby Ptacek, who had the hot hand offensively all night. The freshman guard shot seven for nine from the field en route to a careerhigh 20 points.

Thompson also played well, scoring 11 points and dishing out nine assists. He played all 40 minutes for the Blue Devils.

“I thought Shemik did a solid job as far as distributing the basketball,” said Dickenman. “Robby Ptacek was solid on offense, but as far as everyone else is concerned, I don’t think we got much of an effort.”

FDU attempted to establish the inside game early, involving 6’8” Czech forward Kamil Svrdlik in the first couple offensive possessions. He scored eight points in just 15 minutes, but left the game with an apparent lower leg injury.

From that point on, it was John Galvin’s show. The Knights scored 46 points in the first half, with 34 of them coming from in the paint.

“It’s tough playing from behind,” said Thompson. “We shouldn’t have been down in the first place. We gave up way too many points. They did whatever they wanted to do on offense.”

The crowd of 1,786 on hand was looking for anything to cheer about, but had nothing to celebrate except fleeting one-point leads.

“We probably should give the fans their money back,” said Dickenman.

“This is the first time I can remember in Detrick Gym that I heard a lot of disgusted fans, some catcalls, some clapping that was sarcastic,” Dickenman said. “But you know what? We deserved it.”

Marcus Palmer and Aaron Hall each scored in double digits in the loss. Hall left the game with an injury in the second half, and did not return. He did not play on Saturday, either.

“It’s disappointing,” Thompson said. “It’s embarrassing. We should have beat them. This is a game that we needed.”

Coming off such a staggering loss, Central’s next challenge was the Division II Bryant Bulldogs, who are making the transition to Division I and will join the Northeast Conference in 2012.

“They have six wins against [Northeast] Conference opponents,” explained Dickenman. “Every game against a league opponent is their big game.”

Central’s head coach made it clear that he would rather be facing another NEC opponent instead of going out-of-conference after such a sub-standard effort.

The Blue Devils were able to bounce back on Saturday against their future conference rivals, beating Bryant 65-61 on the road in Smithfield, R.I.

Ken Horton made up for a lackluster performance on Thursday, scoring 23 points and grabbing eight rebounds as he led CCSU to victory, number 1,000 in the program’s history.

Central shot over 54 percent from the field in the game, as they were able to keep the strong outside shooting of Bryant at bay.

It was a close contest, as the game was tied eight different times and the lead changed four times.

With the game even at 33 entering the second half, Marcus Palmer immediately responded to whatever was said to him at halftime.

The senior forward alone outscored the Bulldogs 7-0 to start the second half, with all three baskets being assisted by Shemik Thompson.

The Blue Devils now find themselves 7-7 in the NEC, and 12- 13 overall.

They head back into conference action this Thursday as they host the Sacred Heart Pioneers, who defeated the visiting Blue Devils 77- 69 on January 31. Gametime is 7 p.m. as Central attempts to put themselves back in position to host a home game in the NEC tournament.

-Kyle Dorau, Sports Editor:

The New Hope for Basketball at Central

Women’s basketball at CCSU hasn’t had many moments in the sun.

They have spent the majority of their Division I existence in the bowels of the Northeast Conference.

Much like the basketball program, head coach Beryl Piper finds herself sitting in the bowels of Kaiser Hall, out of sight and out of mind for much of the CCSU campus.

Until now.

In a remarkable turn of events the CCSU women’s basketball program has burst from the NEC basement to contention in just one season. The Blue Devils have already tallied 16 victories with four games remaining in the season and only one year after they managed just four wins.

With the team only losing one senior after the season and a strong group of underclassmen returning next year, women’s basketball at Central looks to be a strong contender for years to come.

The biggest reason for this sudden turn of events can be found just underneath Detrick Gymnasium in the form of the team’s second-year head coach.

Winning seems to follow Piper wherever she goes. During her senior year at Central, 1985-86, she led the Blue Devil basketball team to its best season ever. She won a national championship in Ireland and when she landed her first head coaching job at New Britain High School, she supervised the turnaround from an 0-20 team, to perennial contenders for the state championship.

She then proceeded to capture three during her final five seasons with the Hurricanes and became a CCSU Alumni Athletics Hall of Fame Inductee in 1999.

Then she got the call to return to her alma mater, Central Connecticut, and was charged with the task of rebuilding a program that hadn’t won more than 10 games in six seasons.

But the task of rebuilding is not something that she gravitates to.

“I don’t know why I do that,” said Piper. “I guess it’s about opportunity. At New Britain it was an opportunity to coach and I really wanted to coach and I think here, when I was approached about the job it was just an opportunity – something I wanted to do out of college.”

Her office is simple and unassuming; it doesn’t have to be anything luxurious, as Piper tends to spend most of her time on the court. Her new job no longer allows her the luxury of seeing friends and family on holidays or spending as much time as she’d like hiking with her two dogs Oliver and Reilly.

There are two basketballs that sit above her desk. Both are game balls commemorating her first collegiate victory and her first NEC victory.

Those victories were not easy to come by for Piper. She had to wait until game 10 on Dec. 12, 2006 for that first win and game 14 on Jan. 7, 2007 for that first conference win, a hard fought affair at Wagner College that the Blue Devils pulled out in overtime.

There were only two more victories for the Blue Devils that season and many wrote them off for the 2008-09 season.

The NEC Preseason Coaches’ Poll had them finishing dead last in the conference.

“I was kind of happy that the conference picked us 11th,” said C.J. Jones the Athletic Director at CCSU and the man responsible for bringing Coach Piper into the fold at Central. “Because I would have bet the house, the ranch and everything else that we were not going to finish 11th in the conference.”

Jones has been a fan of Coach Piper for years all the way back to Piper’s days as a playerand Jones’ days as an assistant for the men’s basketball team.

He looked to bring her in on more than one occasion, but encountered resistance from some at CCSU who felt it would be a mistake to hire someone with no college experience.

“Probably about five or six years ago I had some interest in her coming in to coach Central,” said Jones. “There was some hesitation on the administration’s part that someone from high school would be successful on the college level. Obviously I didn’t have any doubts, but at that time it wasn’t the right time to fight city hall and bring Beryl in.”

Piper has always been a part of Connecticut and that is something Jones has always wanted in his coaches.

After playing three sports for Trumbull High School, Piper jumped at the chance to play basketball for the Blue Devils and CCSU Alumni Hall of Fame coach Dr. Brenda Reilly as a freshman in 1982.

It wasn’t long before Piper helped lead a turnaround in the Blue Devil program. Central went from 9-18 her sophomore year to 24-4 in her senior season. The season was the perfect stepping stone for the Blue Devils to make the jump from Division II to Division I women’s basketball.

“Knowing the success that she had at New Britain, it makes you want to be around people that are successful… The record speaks for itself,” said assistant coach Glenn Senecal. “I saw New Britain play and I knew the style that they play and the style she likes to play – and to me that’s a lot of fun.”

Senecal watched Piper as he was recruiting some of her players at New Britain High School. Like Piper, he feels at home at Central, which is a far closer commute than his last job at the University of Albany.

“She makes it fun to come to work,” said Senecal. “The success that we’ve had so far, it shows just what kind of style and what kind of coach she is.”

That aspect of fun in Piper’s game is what keeps her players going, too. Piper reaches her team through hands-on coaching, as is evidencedby her heavy involvement in practices and her desire to show players rather than just telling them about how they need to improve.

“She’s been there. She was a player when she played here in college, so she knows what it’s like. The monotony sometimes of a four- or five-month season – she knows how to break that up,” said junior P.J. Wade, who is one of three players left from the pre-Piper era. “We have extremely hard preseason workouts and a lot of times people used to give up in past seasons.”

Like Wade, most of the players on the team respect Piper’s former experience as a college player and for her time playing professionally in Ireland. Piper’s open-door policy and that of her coaches allows them to easily relate to players.

Even though Piper has been part of numerous turnarounds in her career, she isn’t necessarily looking for the tough assignments; they tend to find her. She was simply looking for the next opportunity and it just so happened that every time she had the challenge of rebuilding the team in front of her.

For now, the only things in front of her are the NEC playoffs and pushing her players to go farther than any other team before them in the tournament.

Wade says that the “never say die” attitude of this year’s team is something that has rubbed off from Coach Piper.

“This season people really wanted to get it done,” Wade said, “to be the best that we could be in the preseason.”

Losing has been a pattern for women’s basketball at CCSU, but it’s something that Piper and the team haven’t let it become acceptable.

“It hasn’t been because the kids haven’t allowed that to happen,” Piper said, “… they stepped up in a positive way.”

-Peter Collin, Managing Editor: