The 2014 CAA Basketball Media Day took place today in Baltimore. Northeastern was tabbed as the preseason favorite to win the league. Like JMU, Northeastern only won 11 games last season. The Huskies were a young team though and they’ll be returning four starters, plus Quincy Ford, a double-digit scorer who missed all last season due to injury. William & Mary, led by Preseason CAA Player of the Year Marcus Thornton, was picked second. Hofstra and Drexel rounded out the top four, followed by our lovely alma mater in the fifth spot. The Dukes’ Andre Nation was also honored with a preseason All CAA first team selection. His teammate Ron Curry earned an honorable mention nod.
Preseason polls and all league teams are a fun reminder that the season is almost here, but they’re essentially meaningless. Many JMU fans were paying closer attention to events in Harrisonburg than in Baltimore today anyway. Because that’s where Andre Nation and Tom Vodanovich spent the day in court to face charges that resulted from their fight a few weeks ago. Nation’s assault & battery charges were dropped. The remaining charges will be dropped pending the completion of 60 hours of community service. Vodanovich also received community service in exchange for having his charges dropped. After the court’s decision, JMU officially announced that Nation’s suspension will last five games. Vodanovich’s will be two games.
Matt Brady issued a statement and stressed that Nation is no facing a “zero tolerance” policy. One more screw up, and Nation will be kicked off the team. Nation is undeniably talented. It’s also undeniable that he’s struggled to maintain his focus and has repeatedly made himself a distraction for the team. Both for the sake of Andrea and for the fans’, we really hope he can put the off the court troubles behind him. We’re already elbow deep in “what if?” questions when it comes to JMU hoops under Matt Brady. We’d hate to add to that list.
Yes. That is a tricked out JMU golf cart. And it’s not some sort of vehicle for campus security. It’s the prized possession of one very proud JMU alum, Chris Harris. He sent us this picture with an explanation the other night. Chris met his wife while they were both students at JMU. They recently celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary and the lovely bride surprised him with the golf cart as a gift. Well done Mrs. Harris, well done. We might have the makings of a beautiful tradition here. Silver is the traditional gift for 25th anniversaries and it’s gold for 50th. Maybe now it can be college themed golf carts for 10th. Make it happen people.
Jonathan won last week’s prediction contest and earned the right to guest post. You can follow him on Twitter at @JBear8990. Here’s his story about being born into a JMU family and rootin’ fer Dukes.
First of all – thanks to Rob and Todd for writing the blog. It’s been a source of information, entertainment, and distraction from school over the years and I’ve really enjoyed it. Also thanks for the opportunity to post!
Starting out I didn’t want to tell my ‘JMU Story’ necessarily – because well we’ve seen plenty of that here, and people do love lists/countdowns – but I’m not any good at that stuff. At the same time – we all have a JMU Story, and it’s a large part of why we root – so I’ll add some conference realignment thoughts in at the end to spice it up.
I grew up in a JMU household – my dad (Grover) finished in ’80 at JMU and my mom (Terry) attended VCU (which was essentially irrelevant when I was growing up) so we pulled for the Dukes in all things. But having the VCU influence did give us 2 great reasons to hate the University of Richmond. When I was 4, I made my dad miss Kent Culuko’s ‘shot’ in 1994 at the Richmond Coliseum because I had to go to the bathroom. My dad was kind enough to take me to the bathroom. I would probably have let my kid pee in his pants with the game that close. (We both attended and enjoyed the 2013 CAA Championship, which somewhat atoned for my bathroom mishap) We attended 1-2 home JMU football games a year and I always enjoyed my trips up to Bridgeforth as a kid. I even attended 2 of Mickey Matthews’ football camps. After the National Championship (!) we committed to season tickets and tailgating at JMU has been a weekly fall tradition for my family ever since. read more…
Raise your hand if a month ago you predicted that a JMU defender would earn player of the week honors sometime this season. OK, now stop lying. Brandon Lee, the Dukes’ redshirt senior d-lineman, was selected as the FCS Defensive Player of the Week by the Sportsnetwork. Lee had an outstanding game against an overmatched Towson Tigers squad. He finished with 5 tackles, two of which were sacks, a pass defended, and three forced fumbles. His efforts help lead a defensive line that has been slowly improving and is finally showing that it can get to the quarterback.
Not to be outdone, freshmen Jimmy Moreland, or Jimmy Effin Moreland as he’s know around these parts, was named CAA Rookie of the Week. Earlier this year been recognized as the CAA Special Teams Player of the Week. In Saturday’s win over Towson, Moreland blocked another FG attempt, racked up four tackles, and collected his team leading third interception of the season, which he returned for a TD. The freshman cornerback appears to be a star in the making. And the defense as a whole, while still far from dominant, is finally showing really signs of improvement.
Hoo boy, what a day! For the first time in what feels like forever, the Dukes truly dominated a CAA opponent and gave us all a fun, easy-going afternoon to send us into the bye week and then the meat of the schedule with a 62-7 thrashing of Towson. As strange as it is to say, it really wasn’t even that close as the offense and special teams did leave quite a few points on the field, especially in the first half.
Look, the Dukes won 62-7, so while we do have items for The Bad and The Ugly, it’s safe to say we’re picking nits and most all of this game could be listed here. But a few things really stood out in a great way today. First, Brandon Lee and Sage Harold pretty much could’ve won this thing by themselves. Their pass rush wreaked the kind of destruction we haven’t seen since DJ Bryant. They had the sacks, pressures, and forced fumbles that blew the lid off the game and allowed their buddies Rhakeem Stallings (directly) and Jimmy Moreland (indirectly) to be gifted a couple easy TD’s. Seriously, when offense was throwing away chances in the first half and a game that felt like JMU was controlling seemed stuck at 13-0, these guys just took things into their own hands, creating the next two TD’s and sending this to the half at 27-0.
Jimmy ‘Effin Moreland – Seriously, we might have to rename The Good section of our gamers “The Jimmy Moreland.” What did he do today? Oh, just block another field goal early and then jump a route for a pick six. And both of those came when the game was, briefly, still a contest. If he can avoid injury and all types of Nationing, his ceiling seems as high as any Duke ever to play in Bridgeforth.
Vad Lee – He continues to develop in the offense and put our worst fears to rest. His running is surer and you can almost see him thinking through the passing game as his understanding grows. There are times he escapes the pocket and appears to have running room but keeps his eyes downfield for the better play. It can look frustrating against an overmatched opponent like Towson, but that kind of work could very well pay off later in the season when that space doesn’t exist against UR and W&M.
Still missing a ton of tackles on D. JMU’s defensive gameplan looked rock solid today and guys were almost always in the right place to make a big play, but the missed/slipped tackles are still keeping opponent’s drives alive and costing the Dukes. Only Marlowe is reliable in that regard right now, though it should be noted we liked what we saw from a healthier Gage Steele and Jeremiah Wilson off the bench on the tackling front.
In a closer game, we probably would’ve put the kicking game in The Ugly, but the answers just may not be on the roster. After hitting the game-winner late against Albany last week, new PK Ryan Maglio missed the first extra point and a short field goal later (he also missed a 50 yarder but that’s on the coaches, not him, for even attempting it). We’re definitely in favor of sticking with Maglio right now, but this remains a scary element of this year’s team.
Targeting – For the second week in row, S Dean Marlowe was ejected after receiving a Targeting penalty. And this one was horseshit. He didn’t even come close to the falling receiver’s helmet when he hit him in the side. And of course the worst part is since it happened in the second half, he now has to sit out the first half of the Dukes’ next game at Charlotte. We don’t know if the CAA has the power to review these calls after the game to prevent the suspension, but given this in out-of-conference game against the 49ers, we’re not hopeful (though better against Charlotte than W&M). This penalty is a debacle right now at all levels of football, but at the FCS and lower levels where there is no replay of the calls, the ejection/suspension is entirely too steep a penalty for questionable calls. Remember at the FBS level, the refs can review the play immediately (the call always stands as a personal foul, but the ejection – and subsequent suspension – can be reversed).
Towson – Dang it was nice to have the Towson St. we all knew and loved all those years at the bottom of the conference back. Really hard to believe the Tigers were in Frisco just this past January. Losing Terrence West is obviously huge, but what a dropoff. Make no mistake, JMU played well today and took their chances well, but this Towson team is terrible.
The Dukes have a bye this week before traveling to Charlotte for their last out-of-conference (and boy does it feel waaaay out of conference these days) of the year in two weeks. Hopefully they can keep up the positive performances of these last two games. And hopefully we’ll have a large road-game turnout from one of JMU’s most overlooked alumni strongholds. Go Dukes!
It’s wet and chilly, but there’s still a game today. The Dukes look to build off of last week’s victory at Albany with a win over their old pals the Towson Tigers. It’s an early kickoff for Family Weekend. Hopefully everyone in the ‘burg is ignoring the weather and enjoying themselves with family and friends. Those of you at home can tune in via Comcast Sports Net or Madizone. Consider this your open thread for all pre-game, in-game, and post-game chatter. Go Dukes.
Things are looking slightly better for most fans, but just slightly. This week 28% of poll respondents thought the Dukes were playoff bound. It’s too late now, but we really should have done a better job of separating “fan confidence” and playoffs. Because even though the JMU has nearly no margin of error if it wants to play in the post season, it’s still possible to see signs of improvement or have confidence in the program. At least to me it is.
Before we get into the game, how about a quick Old Guys Leave roundup of other stories of note involving our beloved JMU?
First, Men’s soccer
upset beat CAA frontrunner and nationally-ranked Delaware tonight! Along with our favorite Dukes’ squad – field hockey, led by our favorite player Taylor West, as always – they are leading a fall season that remains filled with promise as CAA play really gets cranked up.
Next, instead of the old Midnight Madness hoops’ hype-night, JMU had an inaugural (and probably only) #TeamKenny vs. #TeamMatt Showdown tonight. No surprise, #TeamKenny won.
And finally, there’s another JMU kid on The Voice this season. #TeamRyan.
Match-up: unranked JMU Dukes (3-3, 1-2 CAA) vs unranked Towson Tigers (2-4, 0-2 CAA)
Kick-off: 12:30 PM Saturday, October 4 at Bridgeforth Stadium (Family Weekend though it’s not even sold out yet)
Weather Forecast: High of 64, isolated thunderstorms, chance of rain 30%, winds only 6 mph
Broadcast: Comcast regional, MadiZone out of area.
I have no clue what to write about! As a second time winner of this contest (won a prediction last season and wrote about my personal story on becoming a JMU sports fan) I don’t want to just reiterate the normal hot topics, but at least I won the contest by predicting a JMU win. We could play Ole Miss this weekend, and I would predict JMU to win, anything else is treason. So, as I ‘swype’ this post on my phone, it is 9:30pm and I have to make the JMU Sports Blog hard 10pm deadline. I feel like I am typing my ISAT thesis the night before it was due (true story), oh the pressure. Though I like the pressure (unlike the JMU defense) and like many in my generation, procrastination has strangely served me well. In my internal struggle to pick a topic, I realized that I am a bit apathetic, similar to how I’ve felt about JMU sports the last couple years. Lemme do some ‘splainin… read more…