Thursday, January 28, 2010

Friday dribble - What happened to JMU?

It's soul-searching time for James Madison, which began the month as a Top-25 juggernaut and will end it a CAA also-ran unable to defend its once-vaunted homecourt. There's still plenty of season left, of course, and the Dukes have shown they're capable of superior play. Let's see if they can figure this out.

Elsewhere in the CAA, VCU and ODU cruised while Drexel survived in overtime to maintain the three-way first-place tie. Thursday was also a night for key injuries, as Virginia Tech's Nikki Davis didn't play and George Mason's Brittany Poindexter and Delaware's Elena Delle Donne went down early. After scoring 18 points in the first half, Delle Donne sat out the second half of the Blue Hens' 72-49 rout of Towson with an injury to her right elbow.

"It's a nerve thing," Delaware coach Tina Martin told the News-Journal of Delle Donne's injury. "Obviously it's scary when something like that happens. She was getting some feeling back. "She's like, 'I can shoot with my left hand.' And I said, 'Elena, you sit right there. We have a lead. We're not going to risk it.' Hopefully, as the hours pass, the feeling will start to come back."

Thursday's games

Hofstra 69, James Madison 62 (OT):
We keep talking about how anything can happen in this year's CAA. But honestly, we didn't think this would happen, that the formerly nationally ranked Dukes would spit the bit on their own floor for the second straight game. As has been the case through much of their conference season, the Dukes shot the ball hastily and poorly (31 percent for the game, 13 percent in OT). Of greater concern, though, was coach Kenny Brooks' postgame assessments that his team was done in by poor decision-making and that Hofstra played harder. "We didn't deserve to win the game," Brooks said. No team is immune from the occasional bad shooting night. But playing smart and with great effort are things a team can control, especially a team with JMU's postseason upside. We're confident Brooks is delivering this message to his players. When Towson visits Sunday, we'll see how well they listened.

VCU 75, UNC Wilmington 63: VCU's athletic web site has it right - Waller really is a baller. And this was especially true Thursday night, when senior guard Kita Waller torched the Seahawks for a school record-tying 35 points as the Rams (14-6, 7-1 CAA) won for the ninth time in 10 games. Waller hit 13 of 21 field goals, 7 of 8 from the line and also added 5 steals and four assists while not committing a turnover. But here's why basketball is truly a team game. The Rams broke the game open late in the first half by going on a 17-0 run. D'Andra Moss scored eight of those points, Ebony Patterson had five and Courtney Hurt four. In other words, for all of Waller's brilliance, none of her points came when the Rams actually decided the game.

Old Dominion 88, William and Mary 65
Remember the days when Old Dominion (9-9, 7-1 CAA) went on a monster CAA win streak? Thursday's victory makes it six straight for the Lady Monarchs, whose resurgence continues after a disappointing nonconference season. The Tribe (10-9, 3-5 CAA) has given them trouble two of the last three years in Williamsburg, but ODU vaulted to a 27-3 lead. ODU's 62 percent first-half shooting effort was a season high, and we continue to say this about the Lady Monarchs: We're believers. Side note: Tiffany Benson two knockdowns on Friday tied her with former George Mason star Trish Halpin as the all-time leading shot blockers in CAA history. Both have 236 rejections.

Georgia State 46, George Mason 36

Has anybody seen the Patriots offense? It was a painful night for the Patriots (8-11, 1-7 CAA), who shot 23 percent, 0-of-12 from long range Angelique Burtts and Danyiell McKeller outscored the Patriots, who lost Brittany Poindexter four minutes into the game and were already missing Ashleigh Braxton, who took a finger to the eye on Sunday. On the same night Tina Martin celebrated a milestone by winning her 250th, Panthers coach Lea Henry records No. 300. Simply put said GMU coach Jeri Porter, "We've got to find a way to score the basketball." By the way, love that phrase, "score the basketball." It's as though Porter wants to make sure we don't think she meant score the baseball, or score the casaba melon. And we're not picking on Porter - well, I guess we are, sort of - because most coaches do this. I once heard a coach say something like, "This basketball team has to score the basketball if we want to win the basketball game." Classic. And it's not just basketball coaches. How many times on a Sunday afternoon do you hear the phrase, "run the football?" We figured as much, Mr. FOOTBALL Coach. But thanks for clearing it up.

Maryland 60, Virginia Tech 42

We hoped it would be a big night in Cassell for the Hokies (12-8, 2-4 ACC), fresh off a road win over Miami. What we didn't know was that starting point guard Nikki Davis strained her left knee in practice on Tuesday and wouldn't play. Forget the fact that Davis was coming off the performance of her life. According to Tech coach Beth Dunkenberger, the absence of the junior floor general threw the Hokies' whole offense out of whack, which sort of explains Tech's 29-percent shooting. Clearly the Hokies have to find a way to make things work without Davis on the floor - and they'll need to do it quickly as Davis is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game at No. 25 Georgia Tech.

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