Tag Archives: men’s basketball

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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 Loses In Overtime During NEC-Drenched Schedule

By Nick Rosa

Central Connecticut men’s basketball team had a tough loss last Thursday night at home falling to in-conference rivals the Monmouth Hawks 58-56 in overtime.

Senior Ken Horton posted his ninth double-double of the season in a 16 point 11 rebound effort.  This marks CCSU’s first loss at home this season in Northeast Conference play.

The Blue Devils drop to and 9-10 overall record and 6-3 in-conference record while the Hawks improve to 5-17 and 3-6 overall record in the NEC.  CCSU went on to improve in both overall and conference records after Saturday’s win against Fairleigh Dickinson at home.

This was a defensive game from the start, with the Hawks defense just a bit better this night than the Blue Devils.  CCSU out-rebounded the Hawks 33-26, led by Horton’s 11 and nine on the defensive front,  but they turned the ball over 18 times, leading to 17 Monmouth points.

“We needed to make some good defensive stands, we didn’t.  That’s what it comes down to,” said Head coach Howie Dickenman.  “We have the best defensive team guarding the three.  We hold teams to 29 percent and they came in here and drilled us 11-24.”

Jesse Steele led the Hawks with a team-high 12 points and 4-10, 40 percent, from beyond the arc.  Dickenman said Steele was shooting about 26 percent from beyond the arc this year, so he would have one of those nights. Last year he shot 44 percent.

At the half the Hawks led the Blue Devils 22-20.  CCSU went to the locker room only down two but had some sloppy play in the first half.  Monmouth also had some trouble shooting but was able to stop CCSU during the first 20 minutes.

The Hawks in the first half shot 40 percent from the field and 57.1 percent from beyond the arc, while Central shot 31.8 % from the field and 28.6 % from the 3-point line.

The Blue Devils had some solid bench help going 3-5 from the field in their few minutes of play.  The bench didn’t get as many minutes as they did last home game against Bryant, but were still able to produce.  The Hawks bench played a much bigger role in their production outscoring CCSU 22-14.

The Blue Devils were able to take advantage of their fouls, going 90 percent from the line, while Monmouth was only 69.2 percent.

The second half was much stronger for CCSU, shooting 46.2 percent from the field while Monmouth only shot 36.4 percent.  The big thing, once again, was the three-point shooting where Monmouth 43.8 percent to CCSU’s 20 percent.

CCSU outscored Monmouth 28-26 in the second half.

Tensions were high with 0.5 seconds left on the clock with the Hawks inbounding with a tie game, but a full-court throw ended in a CCSU interception which sent the game into overtime all tied up at 48 apiece.

Heading into overtime, Monmouth led by four after a quick 6-0 run, taking a 54-50 lead.  Central fought back to tie the game at 56 with 46 seconds to play on a pair of free-throws by Horton.

The Hawks answered back with a pair of free-throws by Mike Myers Keitt with 14 seconds to play, taking the 58-56 lead, which ultimately finished the Blue-Devils.

Freshman Kyle Vinales missed a lay-up and the Hawks rebounded.  This forced CCSU to foul with 1.3 seconds remaining against Monmouth’s Austin Tillotson, who missed his free throw.

After a time-out CCSU threw the ball down court in hope of a last second shot, but was caught by Monmouth which sealed their victory.

Vinales added 15 points, three rebounds and four assists, while senior Robby Ptacek had 11 points, four rebounds and four assists in the loss. Ptacek went 5-5 from the free throw line, just adding to one of the nation’s best percentages of 93.7 percent in 95 attempts.

“We gotta put this behind us.  The past is the past,” said Dickenman.  “Everyone contributed to the loss, this is about a team loss, no individual lost this game,” he added.

The Blue Devils have a tough and challenging schedule ahead with eight conference games in a row.  CCSU will be back in action Thursday February 2 on the road against Saint Francis (N.Y.) at 7 p.m.

Blue Devils Beat FDU Before NEC Road Trip

By Nicholas Proch

The CCSU men’s basketball team rebounded from a tough overtime loss to Monmouth last week, beating Farleigh Dickinson 69-62 on Saturday.

In the latter half of a men’s and women’s doubleheader against the Knights (2-19, 1-9 NEC), the Blue Devils (10-10, 7-3 NEC) were able to outlast their opponent and hit shots late in the second period to clinch a conference victory.

Taking advantage of opportunities at the line and being aggressive on the defensive side of the ball helped CCSU break their short two-game losing streak.

The team’s effort can be summed up by a play that happened just over five-minutes into the second half. On a FDU possession, CCSU was able to stop the Knights from shooting the ball on several attempts. The ball was tipped out and then driven back in to the hoop where a final shot from FDU big man, George Goode, was contested by David Simmons resulting in a turnover. Goode played for Louisville last season, starting two games there.

“We never want to lose at home and coming off a home loss we knew we had to pick it up,” said senior guard Robby Ptacek. “… we were able to hold it together with poise.”

While they had no problems defensively early, the Blue Devils struggled to get their offensive game started in the first half, which allowed the Knights to go into the break with a 27-26 lead. Coming back out after halftime, the team took the lead and never looked back.

“We applied more ball pressure today,” said CCSU Head Coach Howie Dickenman. “[FDU] missed shots and I’ve got to give credit to the defense. They went out and challenged shots.”

The team hit 42-percent of their shots, which is about even with their season average, but were able to stay ahead by converting on 25-of-28 free throws.

“We just kept making free throws, which is probably discouraging for the other team,” said Dickenman. “All the time we spend shooting free throws, and I mean a lot of time, we got some pay back today.”

Kyle Vinales and Ptacek hit 16 of their combined 18 from the line, almost all of which came in the second half. Ptacek was able to successfully convert a four-point opportunity at the line, as he was fouled while shooting, a technical was then called on FDU’s Kinu Rochford.

“I was just going out there and playing,” said Ptacek. “I felt my foul shots were on and I knew that if I got to the line I was going to hit them.” Ptacek finished with 21 points and five rebounds all while playing the entire 40-minutes.

Vinales played 36 minutes and added 17-points, four rebounds and four assists. He was able to hit all six of his foul shot attempts in the final minute and a half, sealing the game for the Blue Devils.

The team showed discipline with 30-seconds left in the game on a series of inbounds attempts, something that contributed to their loss at Sacred Heart the previous weekend. They took back-to-back timeouts instead of forcing a pass with FDU playing a tight full-court press.

“At Sacred Heart, that cost us a big game, so coach has been harping on that,” said freshman guard Vinales. “Don’t force anything, don’t get rattled. He told us we had three timeouts at our previous timeout and Malcolm [McMillan] used them both instead of throwing it away.”

“I thought they did a good job of giving us problems inbounding the ball,” said Coach Dickenman. “The key word we used in the last five minutes was ‘poise’. Get it in safely, relax, don’t panic, we’re in good shape, but we’ve got to make sure we do the right things. I think they did.”

Senior forward Ken Horton finished the game with 12-points. He now has 1,808 career points, which puts him within two of the top-ten list of NEC scorers.

From here the Blue Devils will go on the road to face St. Francis (NY) on Feb. 2, Long Island University on Feb. 4 and Quinnipiac on Feb. 8.

“It’s going to be a grind,” said Ptacek. “Every conference game on the road is tough and we’re just going to go in there with positive attitudes and give it our all and hopefully come out on top.”

CCSU Basketball Wins Big Over Bryant; Sweep Bulldogs in Conference Play

By Nick Rosa

The Blue Devils men’s basketball team improved to 7-1 at home this season and 6-1 in the Northeast Conference after defeating the Bryant Bulldogs 69-51 at home last Thursday night.

The win completes the season sweep of the Bulldogs and the Blue Devils go to 9-8 overall on the season.

On Thursday night, freshman Kyle Vinales opened the game with a quick seven points by hitting his first 3-point attempt and then four fast break points for layups thanks to a steal and strong rebound by senior Kenny Horton in the first two minutes of the game to go-ahead 7-2.

At half the Blue Devils left to the locker room with a strong double-digit lead ahead of the Bulldogs 31-20.  Efforts from Horton and Vinales gave the home team an advantage over Bryant.

Horton had six points, nine rebounds, two assists and two steals, while Vinales had 10 points and two steals.  CCSU also had some bench help from Joe Efese and David Simmons going for a combined 5-7 from the field.  Effese made use of his time with seven points while grabbing four rebounds in just 10 minutes of play.

Bryant didn’t help themselves out in the first half by shooting a minimal 25.8 percent from the field and turning the ball over eight times, which allowed the Blue Devils to score nine points off those turnovers.  CCSU countered with 41.2 percent from the field to lead the first half of the contest.

CCSU had a game plan, dominating the Bulldogs in the second half.  CCSU’s defense was able to keep the Bulldogs’ shooting at bay by only allowing them to go 11-28 from the field and 2-14 from beyond the arc.  While CCSU was able to move around the Bulldogs defense shooting 13-27 from the field and 5-12 from the 3-point line.

Overall the Bulldogs finished 19-59 a mere 32.2 percent from the field and 5-25 from the 3-point line, while the Blue Devils outshot them by going 27-61 and 7-21.

The highlight of the game was an alley-oop from Vinales to Horton, where Horton went up and grabbed the ball with one hand and slammed it down with intensity as the home crowd cheered the loudest they did all night.

“He catches everything Kenny, he catches everything,” said Head Coach Howie Dickenman. “He’s like a praying mantis, catches the ball and slams it down.”

Horton added, “He [Vinales] kind of threw it a little far, but I was able to get it and throw it down and that gave us a little spark, a little bit more energy, the whole crowd and everything.  It was good for that to go down.”

The Blue Devils lead by double-digits the whole game, going into half-time ahead by 11 and winning the game by 18 points.

Great performances from Horton, Vinales, and freshman Malcolm McMillan helped move the game in the Blue Devils’ favor.  Horton had 18 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, one block and a steal.  This was his 25th career double-double and on Saturday added to that streak with his 26th with 25 points and 14 rebounds.  Horton also lifted a huge load off his shoulders after hitting his first 3-pointer in his last 20 attempts.

When asked how it felt about finally hitting that 3-pointer, he simply replied with a laugh and a smile, “That was like a big weight lifted off my back, it felt so good, so good.”

Vinales also had a game from the field going 4-7 from the three point line and 7-16 overall with 18 points, a rebound and seven assists.

McMillan also did his part on the court by getting 10 assists without committing a turnover.  The freshman may have scored no points but he helped set the tempo of the game and did his part on the court.

“Every game Kenny comes out and tells me to set the tempo, that’s my job, set the tempo for the team, run the team, especially defensively and lock down that point guard,” McMillan said.  “Scoring I leave it up Robby [Ptacek], Kyle, and Kenny, those guys, that’s their thing. They score and I just give them the ball and play defense.  That’s my job and that’s what I try to do every game,” the freshman added.

Dickenman added to McMillan’s performance by saying, “He wants to please his teammates, he wants to please the coaches. He has Central Connecticut basketball mentality.”

Ptacek had a slow game only shooting 2-11 from the field and missing all five of his 3-point shots, but still produced for the team defensively.  He had nine points, seven rebounds and one assist, while going perfect from the free throw line going 5-5, all in the second half.   The senior is now shooting 93 percent from the line this season, which also ranks him as the second-best free-throw shooter in the nation, as of Thursday night.

“Robby’s defense was better than his offense but not really worried about his offense,” said Dickenman.  Ptacek had six of his nine rebounds come from the defensive side while adding a steal.

The bench also provided some protection with the trio of Efese, senior David Simmons and sophomore Terrell Allen combined to hit 7-of-11 from the field, and had 16 points and nine rebounds in 35 minutes of play, while only committing one turnover between the three.

CCSU’s “Big Three” of Ptacek, Horton, and Vinales managed to score 45 of the teams 69 points and showing why they are a force in the NEC conference to not take lightly.

The Blue Devils will be back in action at home Thursday Jan, 26 at 7 p.m. at Detrick Gymnasium against NEC opponent Monmouth University

Horton and Ptacek Key In CCSU Win

By Brittany Burke

The Blue Devils men’s basketball team remains undefeated in conference play after two games. The 82-80 win over the Sacred Heart Pioneers was secured in the final seconds of a five minute overtime situation last Saturday in Detrick Gymnasium.

With 1:10 left to play in regulation CCSU trailed SHU 68- 65, until Robby Ptacek sunk a 3-pointer to tie the score. With the game tied and headed into the final seconds, the Blue Devil defense took charge while the Pioneers missed two vital 3-point shots of their own.

As the buzzer sounded and overtime began, it was the Pioneers who took the lead back with a jump shot from Shane Gibson.

Gibson was an offensive force that the Blue Devils had trouble shooting down in the second half. With just eight points going into intermission, Gibson came back out to the court and exploded with 24 more points, making him the game’s leading scorer.

Gibson opened overtime play and had a total of four points in extra minutes, but it wasn’t enough to hold off CCSU.

The two teams continued to trade shots back and forth, but again CCSU began to trail SHU. Down by three, Ptacek and Kenny Horton were both sent to the line to shoot two free throws. The additional four points gave the Blue Devils the lead and sent the defense back into overdrive.

The game was decided in the final seconds by free throws. CCSU’s biggest break of the overtime came when they led the Pioneers by one with 20 seconds on the clock.

Fouled by Horton, SHU’s Justin Swidowski was sent to the line with his team down one point, but missed both shots as the crowd around him was chanting “air ball.” The Blue Devils remained on top with three more points coming from Horton and Ptacek at the line.

“[The fans] helped us a lot, a whole lot,” said Horton. “It’s only been a couple times that crowd’s really, really been like that and that’s a big boost for us seeing that we have everybody behind us and everybody cheering, everybody doing the little chants. That just gives us that fuel and that fire that helped us pick up our intensity a little bit when we were flat.”

It was the extra attempts taken from the line that really secured the win for the Blue Devils, but it was the free throws that also hindered the team earlier in the game.

“We got a little break when Swidowski came into the game 21 out of 23 from the foul line and he made some earlier and missed them both,” said Head Coach Howie Dickenman. “They had a chance there in regulation and not really a great shot at the end, but it came down to us making foul shots in the overtime, which has kind of been our trademark, but we put stops on them when we needed to.”

At the end of the first half CCSU had gone just 1-1 in free throws while SHU went 8-11. As the game progressed the team fouled more and found themselves at the line more often. In overtime alone CCSU went 7-8 from the line, the only missed shot made by Ptacek in his final attempt.

While SHU had more attempts than CCSU, the Blue Devils were able to take better advantage of the shots they were given, especially in overtime.

Gibson may have been the game’s leading scorer, but again CCSU had three players in double digits.

Horton and Ptacek were virtually even with 30 points, three assists and five turnovers. The two seniors combined for five of the six 3-point shots made, while Horton stepped up defensively with a block, steal and six defensive rebounds.

Joe Efese had 11 points in the game, while Kyle Vinales was kept to a meager five. Vinales has been an offensive powerhouse for the Blue Devils, but the Pioneers shut him down with just one field goal and one 3-pointer made.

“Joe’s had a couple of good games of late,” said Dickenman. “He’s sort of fired up [and] we’re much better when we play with emotion, as I think any team in sports is, but he is showing more energy in practice … he asserted himself and if he continued to get better than that’s a hold that we have in that five spot and maybe were starting to fill that up a little bit.”

The game against SHU was the last conference game for the Blue Devils until Jan. 5 when they play St. Francis (PA). However, the team travels to Michigan State on Dec. 7 to open up a three game road stint. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU, which is channel 33 on CCSU’s cable system.

“We got to go [to Michigan State] and play hard,” said Horton. “All we want to do is go in and show everybody that we can compete and go in and play our toughest. That’s really our mind set to just go in and play tough and show people we’re not just going to lay down because they’re Michigan State … that’s all we can really do … it’s a real big stage because it’s Michigan State, but like Rob said, it’s just another game, we’re going to just play hard and see what happens.”

CCSU is home again three days before Christmas on Thursday Dec. 22 at 7 p.m.

Sports Op-Ed: Men’s Upside Shows With Stronger Post Presence

By Dan Wanat

With a 34 point drubbing of in-state rival University of Hartford, CCSU extended its winning streak to three behind their best overall performance of the year.

Offensively, the Blue Devils shot 62 percent from the field and 64 percent from three as Ken Horton, Robby Ptacek and Kyle Vinales combined to score 69 of the team’s 92 points.

Defensively, CCSU made the Hartford Hawks look like a small child getting lost in Wal-Mart on Black Friday holding them to just 13 first half points.

With the loss, the Hartford Hawks moved to 0-6 on the season losing by an average of 17.1 points per game and scoring an anemic 55.2 points per game, which is good for 332nd in the country.

The Hawks also started four freshmen and have seven freshmen on the roster for what Head Coach John Gallagher deems to be a rebuilding year for the program after losing four starters to graduation.

While Hartford’s winless record and young lineup promotes them to stand behind excuses and lackadaisical play, I give the Hawks credit for working hard and playing with spirit. They came out of the gate like puppies that had just been penned up all day and finally got let out. The team was scrappy, feisty and hard-working with a lively bench standing and cheering every early play.

This excitement and hope was expelled quickly as the Blue Devils finished the half on a 42-7 run putting the game further out of reach then the idea of Kim Kardashian winning a Grammy.

Avoiding the temptation to play down to their winless counterparts, the Blue Devils weathered the early storm and played a relatively flawless first half of basketball. On defense, they played tight man-to-man coverage leading to what became an insurmountable lead for the offensively-challenged Hawks.

On the offensive side of the court, hot shooting complemented the Blue Devils’ great defense as Ptacek and Horton both individually scored more first half points than the whole Hartford Hawks team combined.

As is usual with a Howie Dickenman coached team, different variations of the weave offense were run seamlessly. However, what really caught my eye was the introduction of a new play, at least in the games I’ve seen, that allowed Horton to establish himself in the post.

It’s a simplistic play run by many coaches across the country where the two forwards set up screens to get the guards from the post area out to the wing. The screener then immediately has the post up position and a good angle to receive a bounce pass from the guard.

Again, this play is a basic, foundational type play, but Howie will be able to build variations off of it that will make both Horton and the Blue Devils offense more versatile and tougher to stop.

The lack of a legitimate post presence (Horton spent most of his time near the three point line in the early season games) left me worried about struggling against good defensive guards, but with the addition of this post presence from Horton, CCSU becomes much more efficient offensively.

Now I realize that it is early in the season, but CCSU is already beginning to play some good basketball. Their young, freshmen guards are earning valuable minutes and adding depth to the team as De’Angelo Speech sits with an apparent foot injury.

The defense has shown signs of being suffocating and the sharp shooting guards have shown glimpses of versatility on the offensive end that give fans a lot to look forward to as the season progresses.

The Blue Devils may not have won any awards for beating a winless Hartford team, but the steps being made each game garners optimism for the upcoming conference games.