In case you hadn’t heard, Arman Marks and Enoch Hood are leaving the JMU basketball program. As freshmen, both players got a lot of playing time during an injury plagued season for the Dukes. In 2011-2012 Hood and Marks averaged 19 and 16 minutes a game respectively. With a healthier roster and the arrival of Charles Cooke, Ron Curry, and Andre Nation, they struggled for playing time this past season. The official word is that the decision was mutual between the school and the players. Regardless of who initiated the move, JMU quickly used one of the open spots to sign 6’8″ power forward Yohanny Dalembert.
Dalembert joins a recruiting class that also includes 6’7″ guard/forward Jackson Kent, 6’6″ forward Tom Rivard, and 6’8″ Paulius Satkus. Kent had a number of quality mid-major teams and low level major conference programs show interest, but signed with JMU prior to his senior season. Rivard comes to JMU from Massachusetts and is said to be a mobile player who hits the glass, has a high basketball IQ, and a strong inside-out game. Satkus is from Lithuinia and played at Barking Abbey in the United Kingdom.
Dalembert can be described with one of my favorite hoops cliches, in that he is said to have plenty of upside. He wasn’t heavily recruited prior to his senior season, but that might be at least partially due to the fact that he didn’t begin playing AAU ball until this spring. His game began to catch up with his athleticism this past year, which resulted in his recruitment picking up steam the past month or so. He had offers from fellow CAA programs Drexel and Hofstra, and had Memphis and Villanova chasing him along with JMU. His Lower Merion High School team just won a state title in Pennsylvania and his big brother, Samuel Dalembert, plays for the Milwaukee Bucks. Plus someone on Youtube said his nickname is the Haitian Sensation. I have no clue if it’s true, but let’s go with it.
As bloggers, we’re pretty sure we’re supposed to make fun of this and say something dismissive about this bro shotgunning a beer after totally crushing his last college final. And because we’re of a certain age, we’re pretty sure we’re also supposed to pound our fists and rant about how pictures like this will “live on the internet forever” or something like that. But we’re not going to. We think it’s pretty funny. Because, college!
First, let’s begin Friday with some actual sports news. Softball has made it to the championship round against Hofstra out on the Island today. Game 1 is at 1 p.m. and JMU has to win two to win it as they enter with a loss while Hofstra is undefeated in the double-elimination format. Now that they’ve made the finals against the top seed, there’s at least a reasonable chance that the second seeded Dukes, who have been on the fringes of the Top 25 all year, could earn an at-large bid to the women’s NCAA tourney, but I’m sure they’d agree punching their automatic ticket with a big (and last?) CAA trophy would be a lot better way to go. Good luck ladies!
But we also wanted to take this Friday in mid-May to throw another log on the conference realignment fire. We’ve tried to avoid this the last few weeks as this topic only incites riotous, baseless, and largely inappropriate behavior from the hardcore fans while simultaneously boring, confusing, and alienating many casual Dukes fans. I’m certainly guilty of some of this misguided anger, while Rob usually takes a more mature long view of the whole situation. That said, there are a couple of dates coming up that could be turning points for a decision that are worth mentioning no matter how much the administration says they are waiting for the full study from the consultants to be completed. We’re not experts on either of these and surely you all can fact check us in the comments, but this is our understanding:
June 1 – This seems to be the date that if you’re still in FCS on this date, you are eligible for the FCS Football playoffs the following fall even if you announce a move to FBS so long as any additional scholarship players you may add beyond the FCS limit do not play. This is what happened with ODU last year. Though the CAA made a conference decision to enforce their “not eligible for CAA titles while transitioning” rule, thus preventing ODU from claiming the official CAA football crown, the Monarchs were eligible from an NCAA standpoint for an at-large bid which they earned easily. Not sure how much sway this has in any decision JMU may make, but you can bet Mickey is rightfully lobbying hard for this scenario and it certainly would be nice to have at least one sport (and the most visible) that isn’t frozen out during any transition period.
July 1 – This seems to be the date that if you haven’t announced a move and transition, you are frozen out from making any move till the following year. In other words, June 30 is the end of the NCAA year so if no decision comes by then, JMU would not be making any moves till the 2015-16 year. That said, this also seems to be the date the CAA is scheduled to make a distribution of a good chunk of the money it’s been hoarding from the NCAA tourney runs the last few years (including that forfeited by VCU when they left) and the exit fees from those smarter schools that have already left. You can bet the coinciding dates are no accident and you certainly can’t blame the CAA for setting it up this way, but it obviously puts JMU in a quandary.
What it means? Who knows, but our guess is if nothing happens by July 1, nothing is going to happen till late spring 2014 and we’ll get back to monitoring the situation. That said, JMU’s been on there own at times apparently directionless course in this regard before, so we’ll just get our popcorn ready. And after all, this decision is about the long-term direction of JMU Athletics, and to at least some extent JMU as a whole, and making the best decision possible is the most important factor.
We’re definitely looking forward to hearing if there’s anything to be gleaned at next week’s Coaches Caravan event. (Though we doubt we’ll hear anything but “we don’t know” from Mickey and Brady and we’re just guessing there’s no Jeff Bourne w/in a hundred miles of these events this year)
During the Dukes’ run to the CAA Championship, we joked that if you ranked JMU’s Top 10 Dunks ever, A.J. Davis would have 12 of them. Consider this video our evidence. And thankfully it comes along during the long blogging dead season between the end of hoops and beginning of football. We’re only about 30 or 40 videos or random frivolous college “rankings” away from me achieving my goal of being able to provide fresh content all summer without actually thinking or writing.
In case you missed it, this “We Are the Change” video was released by JMU over the weekend. It’s a tribute to the Class of 2013. And it’s pretty great. It’s certainly far better then whatever low budget stop motion animation production they might have created back in the stone ages when I graduated. Hat’s off to the folks who produced it and a huge congratulations to the newest group of JMU alumni.
The 2012-13 JMU sports calendar is really winding down. This is usually the time of year we’re desperately hoping baseball keeps a good run going, but they’re an unmitigated disaster this year, so we’re pulling for one of JMU’s finest softball teams in program history to do big things at CAA’s this week. Whenever they finish up this year, we’ll really have to work hard to come up with something else to discuss to prevent us from melting down on the “new and improved” offense for football and conference realignment over and over all summer.
In other news, it’s Coaches Caravan time the next few weeks and we’ll definitely be at the DC/Nova Duke Club’s version on Thursday, May 16 at A-Town Bar and Grill in Arlington. This is always a fun event filled with Mickeyisms and populated by fellow fanatics.
Also want to give a special nod to sixth-year and program-transforming Women’s Lacrosse player Casey Ancarrow for repeating as CAA Player of the Year! While the team suffered a disappointing loss in the semis this weekend, Casey’s been the unquestioned leader of an incredible run of success for the program.
Lastly, a bit of fan news to pass along. At least in part, we started this project a few years ago to provide an outlet that didn’t involve the “constantly devolving into bashing” we often found on the CAA Zone message boards. But don’t get us wrong, the message boards have been a great resource for us and we’ve been thrilled to meet so many posters from there over the years. So we just wanted to pass along to those of you who may not be as obsessive but stop by the boards occasionally that the bulk of the posters have switched to a new message board. You can find it here: http://csnbbs.com/forumdisplay.php?fid=685
There is a virtually limitless supply of quality writing with plenty of thought provoking insight and intriguing analysis online today. There is also Buzzfeed. And after digesting the latest tidbit from The Economist or The Atlantic sometimes vegging out and clicking through a stupid list of “World’s Most Totally Extreme Food Trucks That You Absolutely Need To Visit Before You Die” hits the spot (and by sometimes I mean every single day). This week our fine friends over at Buzzfeed put together a matrix of the “Smartest, Sexiest Colleges in the Country”. Sabermetrics it is not. Whomever created the analytic methodology is not going to be confused for Nate Silver (I mean, sample size!). But JMU comes out in the top quadrant and it’s the offseason, so let’s go with it.
Every once in a while, we come across something neat and bring it to your attention before anyone else does. This is not one of those times. Apparently these highlights of the 2012 football season have been available for weeks. We must have missed them when we were busy freaking out over JMU imminent (er, or not) conference move. In any case, football season is only 122 days away. It’s never too early to get ready.
The Arizona Cardinals selected JMU’s Earl Watford in the fourth of round of this year’s NFL Draft. Watford was the 116th player picked. Only two other Dukes have ever been drafted higher than Watford. Curtis Keaton, who was also a fourth rounder, went to Cincinnati with the 97th pick in 1999.
Four Five time Super Bowl Champion Charles Haley was the highest drafted Duke ever. He was chosen with the 96th pick by the San Francisco 49ers all the way back in 1986.
Oddly slow weekend on the JMU Sports calendar for exams before the last of the spring sports wrap up, hopefully with good things for Lax and Softball in particular! And while we’re thrilled to hear Matt Brady is back and hoping for a conference announcement soon, we’re both headed out of town this weekend and there’s only so much blood we can keep spilling on those topics.
So for our Friday wrapup we just want to highlight two Dukes hoping for big weekends. First, keep an eye on the NFL Draft for monster Dukes Guard Earl Watford. With so many Guards going off the board so early in tonight’s first round, we’d think that’s a great sign for those remaining, including Earl when other teams inevitably realize they still have to fill that need. If Watford is drafted, he’d be the first official draftee (not including other Dukes signed as free agents) since Buffalo’s Arthur Moats.
Secondly, how about a big hand for current JMU Junior Chelsea Mohindroo for making it onto this year’s Team Usher on NBC’s The Voice! Chelsea was a member of The Overtones before taking time off to compete on the show. Unfortunately, Chelsea was eliminated this week, but check out the details from The Breeze a couple weeks back. She certainly did JMU proud!