Feb 4 / Rob

Dukes Bounce Back With 22 Point Win Over Drexel

Brady scowlJMU broke out of its two game slump, with an easy win over Drexel. The Dukes beat the Dragons by the score of 78-56. Brady and the boys are now 17-7 (7-4 CAA), while Drexel fell to 3-19 (1-10 CAA). After playing limited minutes and fouling out Sunday against William & Mary, Yohanny Dalembert came up big tonight. He notched his third double-double of the season, notching 15 points and 12 boards. Shakir Brown and Ron Curry also hit double figures, scoring 13 and 16 points respectively. Joey McLean did a nice job running the offense and chipped in 5 helpers. Let’s break down the game by the numbers.

14.1 

That was JMU’s 3 point shooting percentage in the first half. The Dukes only knocked down 1 of 7 from behind the arc. Yet, they still carried a 13 point lead into half time. They did it by shooting a ridiculously efficient 15 of 22 on twos. It’s safe to assume that like most fans, Brady wasn’t at all pleased with the way the Dukes played catch on the perimeter before launching long jumpers in Sunday’s loss. It must have been a point of emphasis at practice, because the Dukes took much better shots tonight. And they made most of them.

38

How many points JMU had in the paint. This is really just piling on the point I was trying to make above. JMU worked for good shots tonight. Brown and Curry actually didn’t shoot particularly well, but thanks to YoYo’s effectiveness on the block, and guys like Satkus and Vodanovich scrapping for buckets, JMU cruised.

1

The number of high flying death defying slams just plain dunks Jackson Kent had. OK, maybe it looked remarkably similar to the sort of dunks yours truly used to throw down in UREC. Jackson had a good game though. He played with himself, scoring 9 points on 4-8 shooting, to go along with 6 rebounds and 4 assists.

43

Missed shots by Drexel. That’s not a typo. Drexel failed to connect on 43 of its 60 shot attempts. Brick city. The Dukes can definitely play some good defense. They did just that tonight. Yet, we can’t deny that the Dragon’s poor shooting was also do at least a little bit to the fact that um, the Dragons just aren’t good shooters. They’re also not great defenders. Or rebounders if we’re being honest. Other than that though, things are swell.

Feb 3 / jmusport

Official JMU Football National Signing Day Wrap Up

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We have yet to find a guy who knows more about JMU recruiting than our buddy Michael. Thankfully, he once again agreed to handle the recruiting wrap for us on signing day. We’re pretty confident you won’t find a more thorough or accurate analysis of JMU’s recruiting class anywhere. Follow him @Michael2Clutch and enjoy the post.

In the words of new head football coach, Mike Houston: “What a day to be a Duke!” Today, JMU signed 24 high school student athletes (walk-ons included) to the football program to begin another new era. When Withers bolted for Texas State to play the likes of Idaho and New Mexico State, Jeff Bourne pulled a power move to resign previously fired coach, John Bowers, to keep an impressive incoming class together. Along with current offensive line coach, Jamal Powell, Bowers did a phenomenal job during the 12 days of limbo and only “lost” 1 recruit during that span.

This class marks a special time in JMU football history. When Withers was hired, I thought it would take at least 3 years to bring our program back to the level of recruiting we are capable of and this class surely does not disappoint. Many of the 24 signees have a slew of offers from both FBS and FCS schools and were highly coveted among their peers. Interesting enough, 10 of the 24 recruits were signed to solidify the offensive and defensive lines while 5 players were signed to the defensive backfield, 4 of which are incoming safeties. That is quite a telling sign of which areas the current/previous staffs feel that our team needs the most improvement. From what I saw in 2015, I do not disagree. Impressive enough, this class came from all over the eastern seaboard: from Georgia to New Jersey to Ohio to Illinois while still taking care of our backyard; signing 12 from Virginia.

As Mickey Matthews used to say (and for every class…), I believe this is the best recruiting class that JMU has signed. But don’t take my word for it, let’s take a look at your 2016 JMU Football recruiting class and you can judge for yourself:

Quarterback (3):

DJ Daniels – 6’2” 193lbs

State: North Carolina

High School: Fike

HUDL

Analysis: DJ Daniels is a highly touted quarterback from the state of North Carolina. He committed to JMU for both football and baseball in July after an unofficial visit; he’s held firm ever since. DJ has a very strong arm that will remind JMU nation of Vad Lee because of his overall athleticism. His high school offense mirrored JMU’s 2015 attack (shotgun, read option, downfield throws), which should only help his development. He’ll need a year or 2 to physically develop and work on his mechanics before contributing but he has the tools to run our spread. DJ is more of “thrower than passer” at this point – he has a delay on the top of his release, which can allow a defensive back to jump his throws – and will only get better under the wings of new QB coach/OC, Donnie Kirkpatrick. Don’t expect him to push Bryan Schor just yet but we should be excited to have him in the program.

Additional Offers:

Boston College, Gardner-Webb, Florida A&M

Cole Johnson – 6’5” 190lbs

State: Virginia

High School: Cox

HUDL

Analysis: Cole Johnson is a 757 recruit hailing from Cox High School. He set school records in passing yards, passing touchdowns and total touchdowns during his time as a starter. He drew plenty of attention as a prospect reeling offers from CAA rival, Towson, and Temple from the AAC. He was a key part of Cox’s transition from the triple option to the spread to utilize his passing skills (feel free to pull him up on YouTube). While he has a very slight build, his quick release resembles that of Philip Rivers/Vince Young and he has a gunslinger mentality. He displays good touch and anticipation on his throws and is a really elusive athlete. While he won’t run over any tacklers any time soon, he runs with a long stride and has proven to be difficult to take down. 2 to 3 years of JMU’s dining services (RIP D-Hall) and we should see an epic battle between Cole and DJ for the starting quarterback position.

Additional Offers:

Davidson, Monmouth, Towson, Temple, Norfolk State, Temple, Texas State

Mack Waldman – 6’3” 205lbs

State: Illinois

Previous School: Highland High School, Northern Illinois University, NE Oklahoma A&M College

HUDL

Analysis: Mack was a former preferred walk-on at Northern Illinois University in 2014 and played at NE Oklahoma A&M College (JUCO) during the 2015 season. Mack is an experienced QB that almost replicated Bryan Schor’s road to JMU, albeit much smoother. He’s more of a traditional pocket passer with a smooth over-the-top delivery and he’s shown that he has good elusiveness on tape. He did not run a lot of read option at the JUCO level but he displayed impressive anticipation on throws, often throwing to the open field where a receiver is going rather than right at them, a skill lacking at JMU before Vad Lee stepped on campus. He is coming to JMU as a redshirt sophomore and an early enrollee so I predict that it will be a Waldman vs. Schor battle for the starting quarterback position during spring ball. I’m not a 100% sure if Houston and co. are targeting any other “veteran” quarterback transfers but keep a close eye on how the competition plays out in the offseason.

Additional Offers: N/A

read more…

Feb 3 / Rob

It’s National Signing Day

NSD PortalToday is the big day folks. It’s National Signing Day, the first day that football recruits can sign their letters of intent to officially commit to a school. It’s an important, if somewhat overhyped, event. It’s especially exciting this year for JMU fans, as we get our first chance to see the type of players Coach Houston and his impressive assistants can bring to the school. All accounts indicate that he’s got some studs ready to sign on the dotted line and become Dukes. Keep up with the action on JMUsports.com throughout the day. Then come back here this evening, when our man @Micheal2Clutch breaks down JMU’s recruiting class.

Jan 31 / Rob

JMU Collapses in Loss to William & Mary

matt bradyJMU lost to William & Mary by the score of 68-62 tonight. The Dukes were up 18 points in the first half. And again, they lost. If you didn’t see the game, I’m sure you can deduce that it was one heck of a collapse. We don’t want to take anything away from the Tribe players who turned it around and pretty much ran circles around the Dukes after the break. But JMU gave this one away. The offense was less than inspiring in the second half. Unless of course you enjoy watching players pass back and forth on the perimeter before launching ill advised shots. Or if you really love watching players fumble passes in the paint. If you like either of those things, then I hope you saved the game on the DVR. Here are a few quick thoughts on the game.

6

That’s the number of free throw attempts JMU had. For the entire game. I wasn’t kidding about players just aimlessly passing back and forth before launching bad jumpers. That’s what they did. Of course when you shoot jumpers (especially bad ones) instead of going to the hole, you don’t get a lot of fouls called on the opposition. JMU hit 3 of the 6 free throws for 50% in case you were wondering.

987

That’s the number of times I screamed at my television tonight because the Dukes were playing catch by the three point line instead of running anything resembling an offense.

5

That’s the number of double-doubles Shakir Brown has on the season. He managed to score 13 points and grab 11 boards tonight. Ron Curry also did Ron Curry things, scoring 19 points to go along with 6 rebounds. Both guys played well enough that JMU actually had a chance to steal the game at the end.

12.5

That’s the Dukes three point shooting percentage in the second half. JMU hit just 2 of 16 from behind the arc after halftime. No further explanation necessary.

3

That’s the number of Tribe players who reached double digits in scoring. Daniel Dixon, Terry Tarpey, and Omar Prewitt had 17, 11, and 16 points respectively. It wouldn’t be fair if my disappointment in the Dukes caused me to fail to credit the Tribe’s big trio. They’re good. So is that Cohn kid. Per usual the William and Mary roster looks like a group of extras from Hoosiers, but the Tribe is deceptively athletic and sure to be a tough out in Baltimore.

4

Thankfully, that’s the number of days until the Dukes get back out there. Thursday night JMU will play at Drexel. If there’s a slump buster in this year’s CAA, it’s the Dragons. Curry and the Dukes will have a great chance to right the ship and get their groove back. That’s a very good thing.

Jan 28 / Todd

JMU Drops to Tie for Third With Atrocious Shooting Night vs. UNCW

The Dukes shot horribly and made just the right amount of stupid plays to drop out of first and are staring at a Sunday matchup at potent but defensively challenged William & Mary to avoid falling out of the first four spots in the CAA and back into what used to be called “Pillow Fight Friday” territory.

18 – That’s really the only number you need to know from to explain how the Dukes lost by five points, 78-73 to UNCW tonight. 18 is the number of missed free throws by JMU on the night. Forget that they also made 28 in a chippy, odd night that was dominated (not in any way unusually in the CAA by the way) by trips to the line. But watching YoYo and Morgan shoot free throws is downright painful and they certainly weren’t alone as Dukes up and down the lineup missed clutch freebie after clutch freebie in the second half. No team at any level can complete a comeback without handling their business at the line. Dukes lost by 5 and left 18 points on the line. Nothing else matters.

36, 31 – Those are the Dukes FG and 3P percentages respectively. Basically they couldn’t throw the ball off a dock and hit water tonight. And that was in no small part because UNCW, at least at the top of their rotation, is probably the most athletic team we’ve seen in the CAA. They clearly had a little more juice in the starting lineup, though Brady did an admirable job trying to test their bench and fitness by using JMU’s superior depth and diversity throughout the game (and acknowledging early on that the Seahawks athleticism called for a lot more Morgan/Grays/McLean and a lot less Kent/Vodo. In the end, UNCW almost made enough dumb, tired plays of their own to let the Dukes get all the back, but this is the one opponent we don’t want to see in the bracket in Baltimore if they can be avoided.

THIS is the only thing the Dukes appear to be aiming at from the free throw line

THIS is the only thing the Dukes appear to be aiming at from the free throw line

Positives –  Yes, there were positives. First, Ron Curry matched his career high with 28 and in doing so moved into 11th on JMU’s all-time scoring list. His massively improved outside shot has turned him into one of the CAA’s best players. Next, the bench provided some great performances tonight. Satkus was a big part of steadying the ship in the first half, Morgan was a huge spark in the late-game near comeback despite his flat, awful, no good, very bad motion from the line, and Grays is just a player we are coming to love. His all-court game and especially his smart, gritty defense is just impossible not to enjoy.

Now go beat the Nerds and don’t pull this crap at the line again. I mean seriously, can we get them some video of Canyon Barry – yes THAT Rick Barry’s kid – from Charleston who was shooting a Steph Curry-esque percentage underhanded before his season-ending injury?!

Jan 27 / Rob

Donnie Kirkpatrick to Be Named JMU Offensive Coordinator

Donnie KirkpatrickFootballScoop is reporting that former ECU receivers coach Donnie Kirkpatrick will be JMU’s newest offensive coordinator. Kirkpatrick spent 11 years on the Pirate coaching staff. In addition to coaching receivers, he was promoted to Assistant Head Coach in 2015 and also served as the recruiting coordinator. Since 2010, he was part of a coaching staff under Ruffin McNeill that ran the spread offense. JMU Head Coach Mike Houston announced that is the offense he plans to have the Dukes run.

Kirkpatrick’s players earned six first team all conference selections and AP All America honor. Three of his players went on to be drafted in the NFL. Under his leadership, five players eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving and one, Justin Hardy, caught 387 passes, the most in FBS history. In short, he can coach guys up and he brings plenty of experience to Houston’s staff.

In addition to hiring Kirkpatrick, Houston poached former Richmond defensive coordinator, Bob Trott and convinced him to take the same job at JMU. He also managed to bring former Virginia Tech Offensive Coordinator, Bryan Stinespring, to join his staff in a yet to be named role. Now it’s obvious to long time readers that we have no love for the Richmond Spiders. And we were certainly not enthused about the idea of Stinespring as JMU’s head coach. But both of these guys are tremendous hires. Trott’s defenses created turnovers in bunches at Richmond. And Stinespring is a stud recruiter with deep ties all over Virginia. We didn’t love his offensive system at VT, but don’t doubt his football knowledge or ability to connect with players. He coached at a strong P5 program, under a legendary head coach. And he was the recruiting coordinator. He’s an absolute steal of a hire for Houston and JMU.

Jan 27 / Rob

CAA Basketball Tournament Set for Move to Charleston in 2017

1024px-North_Charleston_Coliseum_Aug2010The CAA is expected to announce that its men’s basketball tournament will be played in the North Charleston Colosseum in 2017, 2018, and 2019. The league is in the final year of a three year arrangement to play the tournament in Baltimore. Prior to being held in the 11,200 seat Royal Farms Arena i Baltimore, the city of Richmond, Virginia played host to the CAA tourney from 1990-2013.

Predictably, not everyone is happy with the announcement. Charleston, South Carolina is a long way from the Northern CAA schools. It’s definitely not an easy trip from Northeastern, Hofstra, or even Delaware and Drexel. It’s a much longer haul for the NoVA-centric alumni bases of JMU and William & Mary as well. But moving to Charleston is worth a shot.

It would be unfair to say that the move from Richmond to Baltimore has been a failure. It has not. But as someone who’s attended each tourney in Baltimore, I can assure you that it definitely wasn’t the hottest ticket in town. The first year a huge portion of the tickets were dumped on the market in the form of a Groupon deal. Both years, I’ve been able to walk up 30 minutes before tip off and score lower level center of the court seats for sub 30 bucks. There just wasn’t much buzz and the arena was never close to full. So yeah, it wasn’t a failure, but it wasn’t such an overwhelming success that it makes moving it to a new city particularly risky. They’re not giving away a golden goose by leaving Maryland.

Attendance might drop due to Charleston’s distance from some CAA schools. Charleston is a heck of a city though, and a nice enough city on its own that it might attract some new fans to the tourney though. If UNCW and CofC are in the hunt, expect fans of each to pack the arena the way JMU filled up the Richmond Coliseum in 2013. The reality is that the CAA used to be a Virginia-centric league that made Richmond a good host. Once the league lost VCU, ODU, and George Mason however, it went from a centralized “bus friendly” league to a huge one requiring air travel for most road trips. The league hoped that by moving the tourney to a centralized location in Baltimore that it would help fill up the arena. It didn’t, so they’re trying something new. There’s really no reason not to.

 

Jan 18 / Rob

Mike Houston Reportedly Set to Become Head Football Coach at JMU (Updated)

 

Update: Maybe Football Scoop jumped the gun a bit.

Second Update: It’s official and he plans on running the spread offense apparently

According to FootballScoop.com Mike Houston is going to be JMU’s newest head football coach. Houston will be coming to JMU from the Citadel, where he won 14 games in his two years as the coach. Last season, he led the Citadel to a 9-4 record. His team won the Southern Conference and earned a playoff bid, in addition to knocking off in-state FBS rival University of South Carolina. Prior to the Citadel, Houston coached at Lenoir-Rhyne in Division II. He took over a program that had only 17 wins in the four years prior to his arrival, and managed to get them all the way to the National Championship in 2013. Houston is supposedly a defensive minded coach. However, his teams have run the triple option under the direction of offensive coordinator Brent Thompson who was with Houston at the Citadel and Lenior-Rhyne. The triple option can be, and was, a great equalizer at place like the Citadel where it’s tough to attract top talent. It’s unclear if Houston plans to utilize the same offensive philosophy at JMU. We’ll obviously need to wait and see how things play out, but at first glance, this seems like a really good hire. With rumors of JMU going after former assistants like Jeff Durden or guys with mixed track records and questionable backgrounds like Bobby Hauck, this was a better pick. Houston is a guy on the way up and doesn’t strike us as a guy looking for the first bus out of town. The guy won at the Citadel. There’s no telling what he can do at a place like JMU.

Jan 18 / Rob

JMU Over Hofstra Creates Chaos in CAA Hoops

Shakir BrownTwo weeks ago, JMU lost to Elon at home and faced the very real possibility of falling out of the CAA title race before it really began. A quick home win over Towson and a perfect 2-0 road trip through the Northern reaches of the CAA have changed things though. The Dukes knocked of Hofstra 86-82 in overtime Saturday afternoon. The victory got JMU to 4-2 in CAA play. The Dutchmen Pride also sits at 4-2 after the loss. Shakir Brown led JMU with 22 points and 11 boards. YoYo also had a double-double with 16 points and 16 boards. Their teammates Jackson Kent, and Ron Curry also reached double figures in scoring. Here are a few quick thoughts on the win.

6

That’s how many teams are now tied for first place in the CAA. That’s right. Through six games, six of the league’s ten teams find themselves at 4-2. Last year JMU finished in a four way tie for first place. That was nothing. This is chaos, a very fun kind of chaos. JMU, Hofstra, Northeastern, William & Mary, UNCW, and Towson can all legitimately say they’re in first place. And each of those teams has a realistic shot of cutting down the nets in Baltimore. The big difference between last year and this year for the Dukes, is that JMU has already managed to beat fellow contenders. Last season, JMU didn’t win a single game against any of the teams tied at the top. This year they have.

0

The number of losses JMU has on the road this year. The Dukes are a perfect 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the CAA away from the friendly confines of the Convocation Center. That is both an unusual and welcome development. It’s impossible to understate how big last week’s trip through Boston and Long Island was. Stealing one of two would have been good. Winning both was great.

36

Hofstra’s shooting percentage for the game was 36%. At a certain point, we need to to recognize that this is no fluke. These are not Denzel Bowles’ Dukes. Matt Brady actually has this team playing good defense. They’re holding opponents to 39.9% shooting from the field. That’s second best in the CAA (behind Towson) and top 50 in the NCAA. Brady has always insisted that he could coach defense, but explained that success relied on players buying in. Well, he appears to have gotten the guys on this roster to buy in. They’re playing solid defense and great team basketball overall.

Jan 14 / Todd

Dukes Knock Off Northeastern in Boston 75-63

Can this man takeover the CAA Tourney?

Can this man takeover the CAA Tourney?

Medium Steps for YoYo

Last time out versus Towson we noted that JMU’s big man Yohanny Dalembert was taking some small steps back towards becoming the breakout player he was last year. In the REALLY GOOD NEWS department, YoYo built on that momentum tonight and is getting closer to an actual trend of solid play at this point. He had 14 points tonight and more than anything, his consistent presence on the court changes the whole dynamic defensively and on the boards.

Sometimes It Really is an Easy Game

JMU shot 57% from the field and 53% from deep. That included an otherworldly 67%/64% in the first half which explained the Dukes racing out to a 15 point lead at the break. Brady mentioned at the half that the Huskies weren’t even playing all that bad on D, the Dukes were just making shots. On the other hand, Northeastern shot a Drexel-esque 36% from the floor and a Delaware-esque 19% from deep.  Make shots and force the other team to miss shots. Sometimes it really is that simple.

Then when you have a senior leader, especially one at the point like Ron Curry (22p/7r/4a) who just calmly steps up and takes over when you’re struggling or things inevitably get tight thanks to CAA “officiating,” it’s just not all that difficult. Watching the Dukes play like this on the road against one of the CAA favorites just makes you realize that if healthy, they’ll have as good a chance as anyone in Baltimore’s Royal Ghetto Arena in March.

Blaine Taylor on the Mic

We gotta admit having former porn star ODU Head Coach Blaine Taylor doing color really is the hoops equivalent to the jackpot that getting Mickey on color must’ve been for some teams the last two years in football. The man who’s been known to so eloquently mix metaphors like “all hat, no horse” is just good old-fashioned CAA fun.