Jun 21 / Todd

JMUSB Attends Another MAC…


…and this time there wasn’t even a major award involved. We simply were so thrilled about last year and learned so much that helped us sound slightly less uninformed than usual that we wanted to go back for a second dose. Plus it’s all Dukes fanatics like us so and it was a beautiful summer weekend in the ‘Burg so what’s not to like.

First, a refresher. MAC stands for Madison Alumni Conference (as opposed to that midwestern directional-school conference that plays games in front of tens on Tuesdays). The Alumni Association brings in a bunch of chapter leaders and general influencers from JMU Nation to learn about what’s going on at JMU currently and what they can do to help with fundraising and hosting social and philanthropic events out in the hustings (not sure I used that correctly, but I just love that word). They also have a big Awards dinner where they award things like Chapter of the Year, Event of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, and thank outgoing members of the Alumni Association Board of Directors. This year, since both new members were present, they also announced the two new members of the Board (more on that soon).

Our Four Big Stories This Year

1) “We’re All In.” Awkward, party of one, your table is waiting. So, funny story about writing this little project when two of you are in different places – particularly when one of us, in this case yours truly, is at an official JMU event like MAC, and the other partner is at home lobbing in snark on Twitter. When I walked into the plenary session on Saturday afternoon featuring one of the JMU’s coolest employees (and avowed Deadhead), AVP for Communications and Marketing Andy Perrine, I had a general idea that the session might be a test(y)-audience for JMU’s new slogan that had been presented to the BOV on Thursday to tepid reaction and reported on by The Breeze on Friday. Rob and I had texted Friday and generally agreed that while “Be the Change” had run its course over the last decade, “We’re All In” was about as meh as anyone could imagine. The exact thing that a bunch of fresh-outta-MBA-school guys with pastel golf shirts and Barstool stickers on their tailgates would come up with if they were hired as consultants by a large regional public university at a likely exorbitant rate. What I didn’t know was that Rob was tweeting at the time with lots of funny responses to “We’re All In.” Just as in my actual JMU days, I was one of the last slackers to stroll in and the four or five folks who know about JMUSB laughed in my general direction. It was beautiful actually in its own way. But poor Andy had to put up with a room full of resistant folks (and remember, those folks are the ultimate JMU cheerleaders under any circumstances). In any case, who knows if “We’re All In” is actually going to be rolled out given the BOV reaction, but it was an interesting session to say the least, including the inevitable and gloriously nerdy (for an English major) devolving into a discussion of the merits of “We’re” versus “We Are.”

For the record, the great thing about Be The Change was it was a charge, it felt like JMU, and it was an adapted Gandhi quote. The problem was since JMU introduced it ten years ago, it’s been adopted by everyone from companies to political advocates to mommy bloggers. The other problem was that you can’t trademark a Gandhi quote as your own and use it for your own commercial purposes. So yes, it’s time for a change, but we’re just not sure a dated poker term is that change.

2) Tripp Weaver and Chiquita Jones on the AA BOD – These two new members of the Alumni Association Board are dedicated and deserving Dukes in every sense of those words. From an Athletics angle, with J.R. Snow, among others, rolling off the Board this year, we had some concern that our precious corner of the JMU universe might lose some passion, but with Tripp, a now veteran Richmond Dukes leader, coming on, we feel a lot better that the backroom will not forget what’s best for getting to places like Frisco, Oklahoma City, and the Big Dance in hoops.

3) Charlotte Wins Chapter of the Year (and MIP Chapter) – So since I moved to NC and I’m right smack between Raleigh and Charlotte I’ve been fortunate to meet quite a few folks from both chapters. Even more fortunate, I think I can safely call most of the Queen City’s Chapter leaders “friends of JMUSB” at this point. So it was really great to see the hard work that group has put in the last five plus years rewarded with not only this award, but even better with a robust, proud chapter in a city that is bursting with new Dukes alumni. Tim Emry, Jessi Groover, Carrie Klamut, Kate Schober, and their entire squad deserve a ton of credit for rebuilding this nascent chapter at a time when JMU itself wasn’t doing a ton of encouraging of new/rebuilt chapters. And I need one of those shirts!

4) Regional Ambassadors – While we were somewhat dismayed by the lack of Duke Club presence this year, one great piece of news from our standpoint was Alysia Davis working to use “Regional Ambassadors” more in locations that don’t have official chapters and generally being willing to help with events in those spots. Maybe that’s personal after we had 40 screaming Dukes in Greensboro for the NDSU game last December but it’s a really good effort after years of not really starting up new chapters aside from those that were already well-established.

5) THIS Video from the Steel City Dukes. This thing that the small but seriously passionate group of Yinzer Dukes put together for Giving Day this year was ridiculously impressive and raised the bar big-time for what is possible from a chapter in support of the Dukes.

[insert video here]

And last but most certainly not least, an enormous thank you to the team of folks that host  (i.e. put up with us) this enormously under-the-radar-amazing event. These folks are led by Alysia Davis (the real drive behind MAC17) and Ashley Privott, but there’s a whole team of people that make the weekend so special (shoutout to Emma Maynard for her energy and open-mindedness this year at the “My JMU Network” breakout session).

Oh yeah, one final note. Like D-Hall last year, this upcoming school year will be the swan song for the beloved (ok, maybe just beloved for us Eagle folks) Mrs. Greens as it makes way for the expanded College of Business so make sure and make time for that incongruous salad bar/hot dog combo that only a JMU dining establishment understands how to get right when you’re back next year.

Jun 13 / Rob

The MRDs Are The Best Marching Band in the Country, Cause Jason Isbell Says So

isbellThe MRDs are the best marching band in country. We know that. You know that. And apparently Grammy Award winning artists do too. And not just any Grammy Award winning artists, but one of JMUSB’s undisputed favorite artists Jason Isbell.

While doing press for his latest release, “The Nashville Sound” (which you can listen to here), Isbell was interviewed by JMU alum Spencer Dukoff. Dukoff mentioned that he attended JMU, which prompted Isbell to say “Ah, the Marching Royal Dukes. They have the best marching band in the country.”

Well, there you go. We don’t want to say the MRDs just peaked, but it might be close. Now we just need to get Sturgill Simpson to give the Pep Band a shout out.

Jun 11 / Rob

We Figured You Could Use a JMU Football Highlight Fix

The good news is that it’s only 83 days until the 2017 JMU Football season kicks off. The bad news is that 87 is a lot of days. So if you’re anything like us, you’re probably jonesing for something, anything, related to JMU football to help you make it through the day. Well, we’re here to help. Actually, JMU’s cornerback coach Tripp Weaver is the one helping by posting the above highlight video to Twitter. We’re just embedding it here because it’s 2017 and that passes a new blog content nowadays. In any case, enjoy it. September 2 can’t come soon enough.

Jun 1 / Rob

John Bowers Is Going, Going, Gone

john-bowers-jmuJohn Bowers has resigned from his position as JMU football special teams coordinator. And, well, we’re actually pretty stoked for him. Yes, it’s a big loss for the program. But Bowers is heading back to the West Coast to take a job and be closer to his family. His son is looking like he might be the starting QB for Cal this Fall, so Bowers and his wife decided to relocate so they could both be close enough to watch him play. So while it’s a big loss for JMU, we’re not sure how you can be anything but happy for Coach and his family.

Bowers played at JMU under Coach Challace McMillian and then went on to coach for over 30 years at both the high school and college level. He returned to Harrisonburg as part of former head coach Everett Withers staff. Withers fired (scapegoated) him days before bolting for Texas State, but JMU immediately hired him back to serve as the director of player personnel during the interim before hiring Mike Houston. Bowers not only kept the team together, he worked tirelessly to maintain relationships with recruits. It’s impossible to overstate how important Bower’s leadership was to JMU football at a time when the program desperately needed it. Without Bowers stepping up, there’s no telling what would have happened. He kept the team and most of the recruiting class engaged and focused on JMU football. Follow coach on Twitter or talk to any of the players and it’s pretty clear Bowers helped build that “football family” atmosphere that every program desires.

This past season Bowers’ special teams unit was a key factor in the march to the National Championship. From Tyler Gray’s clutch kick in Fargo to the killer blocked punt down in Frisco, special teams plays were huge. He also coached outside linebackers and played an important role in transforming the pillow soft Withers’ defense to a dominant one. We are sad to see you go Coach, but good for you. Go be with your family and enjoy yourself. You’ve earned it.

May 25 / Rob

Megan Good Named Finalist for National Player of the Year

Softball POY FinalistsJMU Softball had a disappointing end to its season last weekend, bowing out of the tournament with a loss to Baylor. But everyone associated with the program got a much needed pick-me-up yesterday. Megan Good was named one of the 3 finalists for the 2017 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year. Not, CAA player of the year, regional player of the year, or some sort of sliced and diced non-P5 player of the year. But the actual honest to goodness National Player of the Year. It’s kind of a big deal.

Joining Megan as finalists are Kelly Barnhill, as sophomore pitcher from Florida, and Meghan Gregg, a junior infielder from Tennessee. All three nominees are well deserving. Good, as you all know, was lights out from the circle and from the plate all season. She amassed a 38-3 and 0.63 ERA as a pitcher. She also had a 70.1 inning scoreless streak and 14 shutouts. Pretty good year even without considering her batting. But we must, so it’s worth noting she also hit .383 with 12 homers.

Barnhill and Gregg put up similarly gaudy numbers. Barnhill lead the nation with a 0.35 ERA for the #1 overall seed Florida Gators. Gregg was the SEC player of the year and lead that league in pretty much any offensive stat you can think of. She can rake. It’s anyone’s guess who will actually win the award, but there’s no doubt that all 3 had amazing seasons and are deserving of the honor.

Good still has one more season left and she’s already going down as an all time great JMU athlete. If next year is anything close to (or better than) this year, she could cement herself as the JMU G.O.A.T. But that’s not something to worry about now. Just another reason to look forward to more JMU sports next year.

May 21 / Todd

Softball Battles, But Falls In Waco Regional Final

What a program!

What a program!

There’s no easy way to say this, but the JMU Softball team met a cruel ending to another impressive season. They fell 1-0 to an on-fire pitcher from Baylor who threw here second no hitter of the Waco Regional on Sunday. The Dukes beat Oregon St. 3-2 with a great comeback Friday evening and then fell to Baylor 4-2 in a game they led most of the way early Saturday. That night the bats finally woke up and the Dukes eliminated Kent St. 4-0 to set up a rematch (or two) with Baylor on Sunday. And Sunday’s game was a tough way to go.

The Bears scored the game’s only run with a runner scrambling home on a wild pitch on a pitch that was really a pitch-out. Baylor’s Gia Rodoni, who had no-hit Kent St. on Friday, did it again to the Dukes on Sunday though not without late-inning fight and drama from the Dukes as we always expect. After Megan Good was hit by a pitch with one out in the bottom of the event (JMU was the home team in what would’ve been game 1 of 2 had the Dukes won), senior Taylor Newton drove a long fly ball to left that had us jumping off the couch thinking the Dukes might’ve walked off, but Bears’ CF and Big 12 defensive player of the year Jessie Scroggins made an unbelievable catch at the wall to essentially end the Dukes season.

It sucked. And yes, the Dukes should’ve hosted a regional (yes, the CAA and its relative lack of competition is a killer, but for the record their is no realistic conference for JMU that would be better in this sport). But there is absolutely NOTHING for this incredible team and program to hang their heads about. First a HUGE thank you to seniors Niki Prince, Taylor Newton, Madison Moran, Tahli Moore, Mimi Morris, and Casie Hill who have been around to elevate the program from pretty good to serious national contender. These players have been incredible in the way they’ve played on the field, but just as much in the way they’ve represented JMU throughout their tenure.

Also a quick note on Megan Good. She might not have had her all-world best but she battled her ass off and there’s no doubt she has joined Dawn Evans and Rodney Landers on our personal Mt. Rushmore of Dukes. This team just needs to get her some more help on offense and not leave all the pressure on her shoulders. We’re also hopeful Odicci “CC” Alexander or some unknown freshman phenom can give her a wing-woman like she used to have in Jailyn Ford.

And finally, as tough as this weekend was to take, let’s all remember that Ms. Good is back for her senior year and that four freshmen played huge roles on this team, meaning there’s nothing in the world wrong with being excited already about next February when Coach Dean and company crank it up for what we believe will be a run to Oklahoma City. Well done ladies!

And with that, the 2016-17 year of JMU Athletics comes to a close. We can’t say we won’t be a little more intermittent than usual over the summer silly season, but we’ve got some ideas for JMUSB to keep your appetites whetted until Labor Day Weekend when the Dukes destroy another purple FBS team in EZU (hopefully with all coaching attire featuring the new JMU logo/font). Go Dukes!

May 18 / jmusport

Guest Post: JMU Softball is Poised to Make a Run

webcoverChase Kiddy is a JMU alum living in working in the ‘burg. He’s been fortunate enough to catch many of JMU softball’s games live and in person, so he agreed to write a tourney preview for us. Give him a follow at @chasekiddy if your own the twitters. 

So here we are. It’s a warm Wednesday in the Valley, and JMU softball is playing late into May. Again.

This time, though, it’s a little different. This morning, the Dukes weren’t basking in the Valley sun, rolling out of bed with nothing but J’s Bagels on their minds. Instead, they were flying out of Dulles down to Texas, where they’ll play in 15th-seeded Baylor’s Waco regional.

Let’s get this out of the way early. JMU (and Minnesota) got screwed out of regional bids. It’s not an all-time sports travesty or anything, but the seeding is noticeably odd. I’m not going to cry. We shouldn’t pout and send nasty tweets to the NCAA. But it’s worth being said, out loud, that this seeding is a bit silly.

I want to be fair to the committee. This year’s group placed a mega-premium on quality wins, and that clearly impacted the Dukes’ regional selection. A lot of it isn’t even really anyone’s fault; teams that were supposed to be good wins for JMU ended up being duds. The only really great win JMU ended up with by year’s end was Megan Good’s 1-0 shutout win over Auburn.

With that being said, it’s funny to watch a team like Kentucky — a 36-17 team with no impressive non-conference wins that lost SEC series to the likes of Ole Miss and Georgia, among others, — prepare to host a regional, while the Dukes fly halfway across the country.

But why spend so much time crying over spilt milk? The regionals have been decided for three days now. Where’s the value in it?

It’s worth noting that JMU is a team that, on occasion, will play angry. By now, maybe you’ve heard of this Megan Good character that dons the purple jersey. Megan, in particular, is a player who it seems like physically changes her demeanor when she gets pissed off about something. I’ve seen it dating back to last season, and I saw it as recently as last Friday, when Megan took a line drive off her leg early in the championship game against Hofstra. Mickey motioned for Cici to head to the bullpen and start warming up, as a precaution; Megan responded by shaking him off and adding five or six miles per hour on her fastball for the next two innings. read more…

May 17 / Todd

JMU Walks Away From One Of The Kings of Rootin’

JMU_PEP_BAND_PLAYERSSo the few of you who have been with us for the long haul in this little dorkfest/project we call JMUSB may remember we used to have more fire. Or at least we ranted incoherently and blindly threw shade at the administration more often. Over the last few years, we mellowed a bit for many reasons. Partly we got older. Rob is raising two great little Dukes fans and realized there’s more to life than being pissed at another Sherm Dillard debacle on a Tuesday. I started working in higher education at another school and gained sympathy for those administrators balancing a hundred different priorities after being on the other side. TV rights fees dried up in college sports, especially for the paltry FBS conferences we once aspired to join and JMU’s odd/misguided/accidental decision to invest in FCS power somehow seems to be looking better and better by the month as its become inarguable that from a pride/success/exposure angle schools like JMU and NDSU have clearly come out smelling like a rose the last two years and the FBS vs. FCS decision has simmered down as we all wait for the next big sea -change in college football. And most importantly of all, with the exception of men’s hoops, JMU has been absolutely crushing things in competition. Football, Softball, Women’s Hoops, Lax, Field Hockey, and the great Olivia Lehman have all been outstanding and that’s definitely forgetting a few. The incredible kids – on and off the field – that JMU has been producing and the at-least-from-the-outside appearance that the school is delivering on its promise to be a model for the student-athlete experience have made us truly proud to be Dukes. And on a personal level, some of the young, way-hipper-than-we-are Duke Club staff realized we might be turned back to the light and convinced to be a force for good. It made us feel incredible and the friends we’ve been so fortunate to make simply by keeping this thing going allowed us to deliver on that hope in our own minuscule way. Hell, they even gave us a “major award.” We started to feel almost like the apologists we so closely guarded ourselves against becoming for so long.

But to borrow from Mr. Madison’s predecessor as commander-in-chief and the founder of that school over the mountain where all the football players want to transfer and be Dukes these days, every so often the tree of anger must be refreshed with the blood of terrible and uninformed faculty decisions. And with one move last week primarily executed by JMU’s venerated School of Music, I’m back baby. Yelling, kicking, and losing my shit with little actual information just like the old days. Well, as best as I can these days when a circumstance requires comment but may not really have one true villian.

If you haven’t heard, JMU essentially fired Chad Reep, the Pep Band Director and an outsized influence on the magic that has infiltrated the Pep Band, the MRDs, and most of the great developments in JMU fan culture over the last six years. Start Wearing Purple? That was Chad. Intimidating visiting teams from the risers at the Convo for women’s games? That was Chad. Making Indiana fans tell us in Dayton “holy shit, that band is legit and we are ashamed by our barber-shop quartet in comparison?” That was Chad. He came from humble beginnings as a Montana Grizzly, which immediately made him understand what FCS football can be at its best – i.e. something that a fanbase can be every bit as passionate about as any FBS school even if it’s on a smaller stage. In JMU’s case, that’s a Harrisonburg-sized version of a LSU Tigers game. We may lose the game, but we never lose a tailgate. It’s hard to remember through the purple haze of national rankings and conference championships, but the Dukes were getting smoked in the spirit department by Doc Nix’s Green Machine at GMCC and VCU’s creative outfit before the downfall of the CAA. Chad was there to bring pride, and song selections from this century, back to the purple and gold. And no one, I mean not one single person anywhere in JMU Nation, rooted harder fer the Dukes, bud. Not to mention, no one defended JMU more than Mr. Reep. My first real interaction with Chad was when he publicly called me out on Twitter for some asinine and inappropriate comments about the administration in the wake of one of many FBS rants back in late 2012 or early 2013 and made Rob and I have our own come-to-Uncle-Ron meeting about whether we I was living up to our “better than the message boards” mantra. We never became more than the most casual of acquaintances (in the sense that he might recognize us from across Godwin Field pregame), but I like to think we made our peace and developed a wee bit of mutual respect for each other as fellow rooters.

So here’s the story as we understand it. We have the contours right if not the details so don’t freak out; as we’ve always said we’re an independent dork blog. We hope not to be anonymous message board lunatics, but we’re also not a news organization with standards or onerous shit like that. And most of all, please don’t go yelling at administrators, BOV members, or faculty because Chad himself seems to be nothing but grateful for everything he’s had the chance to do at JMU. It’s no surprise that he seems to be taking the high road in every respect and has nothing but positive things to say about something that stinks on ice. We respect him all the more for it. But damn it, this is JMUSB and the high road ain’t for all of us.

Chad was working on an annual contract, basically a junior or adjunct faculty member in the School of Music. His duties, as most of us know, included directing the pep band, being hugely involved with the MRDs, and directing the Concert Band. The pep band grew enormously under his leadership thanks to becoming something that offered its members an experience they were looking for. Presumably, that experience included playing fun, relevant music awesomely and being a part of the growing tradition in JMU Athletics. Surprisingly to us, he wasn’t a part of the Athletic Department. And that’s where things get interesting. You have to remember that to the bean counters on the Finance side at JMU, the MRDs and the Pep Band are simply an expensive line item and it stands to reason that occasionally the pride they bring to all Dukes and the contributions they make to the larger community at JMU get forgotten when they come asking for more resources. They’ve traditionally been counted in the Athletics budget and certainly haven’t been on the School of Music’s tab.

Despite those things, the Music faculty seemed to have realized that the position – including its duties and influence – had become big and important enough to warrant becoming a full-time/long-term faculty slot (again, we know our terminology is off but you get the picture) . Bottom line, they advertised the new position, set up a hiring committee, and hired someone else despite all that Chad has accomplished and been a part of at JMU. Everything we’ve heard says that Athletics, and their small representation on the committee, was all-in on keeping Chad. So what happened?

Look, no one can say for sure except the Dean of the School of Music, the committee, MRD Director Scott Rikkers, and maybe someone in HR. But one thing’s for sure, the Music folks were caught off-guard by the blowback and outcry when the decision became public last week. The fact that it went public on the same day Softball was winning the CAA championship and lacrosse was winning their first NCAA tournament game in seven years was a frustrating reminder of days gone by when we ranted because we just couldn’t have nice things thanks to administration logic we couldn’t understand.

Bottom line seems to be that the School of Music wanted to reassert its authority over a faculty position in their department (and their budget) and didn’t quite grasp just how big of a factor the Athletics/Spirit-related aspect of the job had become. Or maybe Chad, an adjunct, had in their eyes gained outsized notoriety for a guy with only a Masters in Wind Conducting from JMU and a BA from Montana? That would suck, but its not out of line or even necessarily inappropriate for faculty members to be a bit snobbish on things like CV’s and pedigree. In many ways, that’s their job and JMU benefits from them doing that job well.

But we are left to question whether someone with an overarching view should’ve pointed out the bigger picture here and tried to navigate these waters with a lighter touch? If there was a reason they didn’t want to bring Chad back that they knew from the beginning and his candidacy was a mere courtesy, why not let him know back at the beginning of the process and allow him to exit gracefully with more time to find another gig? If the University is not interested in furthering the interests of the Pep Band and/or MRD’s because it’s too expensive or simply somewhat out of line with the School of Music’s primary mission, why not a statement owning that position and switching that burden to Athletics if it’s that important to that department? And shouldn’t someone somewhere have pointed out that you might be putting the new person in a tough spot? (And please please please don’t blame any of this on the new person. From what we’ve heard, she’s an innocent bystander in this and a former Duke so there’s absolutely no reason to not throw our full support behind her and hope for the best).

Unfortunately, there is no obvious person who would’ve had such an overarching view. We have some ideas, but honestly we don’t know enough about the political pressures those folks might’ve been under in their own departments so it’s really not worth speculating and fanning flames that may not be warranted.

But there are two things that need to be said. First, booo JMU all-around. This just stinks. It stinks bad. And please make sure to get those with a grasp of the larger picture in mind in the room early on these decisions going forward. If the bean-counter’s position takes priority, we can live with that. Same if it’s the faculty’s position that is most valued. But for the sake of the individual lives and families involved, and the impact on the community at large, just make it clear. Basically, get your shit together and realize that if you don’t want rabble-rousers like us and others to discuss these things and raise the issue, just tell us whatever you can of the story and we’ll go pound sand.

But second, and most importantly of all, we just want to say an enormous and heartfelt thank you to Chad Reep for all that he’s done to enhance our experience being involved with JMU the last six years! And from the outcry and support we saw from JMU Nation this past week, we know we’re not alone. There are so many students, staff, and current and former athletes and coaches that have been blessed by your presence in the Valley. In particular, what you and the Pep Band did for the atmosphere at women’s hoops games will never be forgotten. We wish you all the best going forward, and you’ll always have a place in JMU Nation. And hey, if you stick around, it’s always sunny in a place you’ve never had the chance to fully enjoy – P-Lot!

 

May 14 / Todd

Softball Gets Semi-Screwed But Heads to NCAAs; Lacrosse Downs Louisville in Big Dance

We’ll get to the Softball juggernaut in a second, but let’s start with a huge win and a really tough loss from the women of JMU lacrosse. The Dukes went to Louisville on Friday and didn’t just win, but doubled up an ACC foe in the first round of the big dance 12-6. Quite simply, JMU was outstanding and the Cardinals were shook. The Dukes pulled away down the stretch with an impressive second-half run and won their first game in the NCAA tournament since 2010. There is no doubt this program is headed in the right direction.

Unfortunately, the Dukes couldn’t keep up their run agains the tourney’s 4th overall seed Penn St. up in Happy Valley on Sunday, falling 19-14. It certainly wasn’t for lack of effort or heart as the Dukes came all the way back from an early deficit of 8-1 to knot the game up at 9 early in the second half. Even after giving up another run to the Nittany Lions, the Dukes got back within 2 at 16-14 late before running out of gas. Tough night, but nothing at all to hang heads about as the ladies put the program back in the national conversation this year.

In Megan We Trust!

In Megan We Trust!

So now to the bittersweet news concerning the Softball bracket for the Dukes in the Big Dance. Despite 50 wins and an RPI well within the top 16, not to mention some incredible fan-support in last year’s tourney games in Harrisonburg, the Dukes were screwed out of a top 16 overall seed and the opportunity to host a regional. But enough whining. The Dukes did appear to get a certain amount of respect by being slotted in the regional with the mediocre 15-seed Baylor out of the Big 12. Baylor is trash institutionally and while we’re sure their squad is solid, we love the Dukes chances to go in with a chip on their shoulder and advance. JMU will open the double-elimination four-team regional against a middling 28-25 Oregon St. squad Friday at 5 p.m. in Waco on ESPN3. Baylor will take on MAC-trash Kent St. in the other opener. The Dukes are riding a 19-game winning streak and have one of the nation’s best players both on the mound and at the plate in Megan Good. It should also be noted that only one player (Good) and two teams (JMU and Minnesota) got any love from the ESPN crew hosting the Selection Show from outside the 16 seeded teams.

If you like projecting, and you know we do, the 2nd overall seed Arizona potentially awaits the Dukes in the Super-Regional the following weekend. The Super-Regionals also feature a return to their three-day format which means Ms. Good may be available throughout the series. For the record, JMU went to Tuscon last year in the regular season and swept two from the Wildcats so don’t think for one second they would be intimidated. Bottom line, it SUCKS not to fill The Hill next weekend, but we still love the Dukes’ chances in this part of the bracket. And in case you forgot, JMU Nation has had a little success in the Lone Star state already in 2017! Go Dukes!

May 11 / Rob

JMU Alum CJ Sapong Is the Top Scorer in MLS

sapongAfter the Capitals and Wizards losses last night, we’re a little bit down on sports this morning. But thankfully, there’s a JMU related story to lift our spirits. Former JMU soccer player CJ Sapong is off to the best start of his career with 7 goals through 9 games. That’s good enough to have him tied for the league lead with Erick Torres, and one more than two guys you might have heard of in David Villa and Jozy Altidore.

Sapong’s great start is all the more remarkable considering he wasn’t even starting earlier in the season. He took advantage of his opportunities and played his way into the starting 11 though. Now he’s just two goals shy of his career high for the regular season. In his mind, there’s no way he can’t score in double digits. That would be quite an accomplishment for a player who’s had his share of ups and downs. He’s experienced the highs of winning Rookie of the Year and an MLS Cup in Kansas City, to the lows of being loaned out to a USL club. Along the way he also did this, which was much cooler before Solo became Solo.  We’re glad to see CJ is doing all of JMU proud. We’ll be pulling for him (but not Philadephia, we have some standards) all season long.