Apr 19 / Todd

OGL Roundup

good-duke-dog-JIt’s been a while since we did a traditional Old Guys Leave roundup touching on a few issues at once, but here’s some great Dukes’ vibes to start your week with.

First, Softball is becoming a thing. Not just for us and hard-core JMU dorks like us, or even just for softball people. The Dukes went nuclear (or as one former President would say, nucular) on the hated Blue Chickens over the weekend by mercy-ruling them in all three games in the “series.” JMU is now 37-6 on the year, 14-0 in CAA play, and riding a staggering 28-game winning streak! There appear to be only two questions left in the regular season: 1) Can anyone in the CAA even challenge the Dukes? (Not likely) and 2) Will the national media/selection committee acknowledge the Dukes with a  quality postseason spot, even in the unlikely event they get clipped in the CAA tourney, which is thankfully less likely than other sports since SB is a double-elimination format? (Who knows, but this winning streak has to be putting them on some radars that don’t usually pick up Harrisonburg, VA and Veterans Memorial Park sure would look good for a sub-regional).

Softball has been on such an historic pace that it’s actually overshadowed another Spring team challenging for one of that program’s best seasons. Nationally ranked #18 Lacrosse also beat Delaware over the weekend to push their record out to 12-4 overall and 4-1 in CAA play. The Dukes’ balanced attack helped them pull ahead of Delaware on the field and in the standings as they approach tourney time. JMU (2 seed) and UD (3 seed) are already locked into their CAA tournament spots and will be re-opening this rivalry in the semis in two weeks.

In other GREAT news, Women’s Basketball’s Lady Okafor became the second Dukes player in program history to be drafted in the WNBA. The JMU center was selected in the third round at #34 overall by the Atlanta Dream (the same team that previously drafted JMU star Tamara Young, who has gone on to become a key contributor for the Chicago Sky). This is a huge accomplishment for a player that improved immeasurably during her time under Kenny Brooks’ tutelage.

Finally, don’t forget the Spring game and the Rocktown Beer Festival are both coming up this Saturday in the ‘Burg. Beautiful time of the year and this year the Spring Game is finally allowing tailgating on Godwin Field and in G-Lot!

Apr 16 / Rob

Jailyn Ford Tosses First Perfect Game in JMU History

In the entire history of JMU athletics, no Duke had ever thrown a perfect game. Until yesterday that is. And here’s the thing, the pitcher was throwing underhanded. That’s right, JMU’s first perfect game in school history came courtesy of the increasingly dominant softball program. Junior preseason All America second team pitcher Jailyn Ford didn’t allow a hit or a walk and had 13 strikeouts as JMU defeated East Carolina 13-0. You can check out the boxscore with all the beautiful zeros here.

This is just the latest amazing achievement for the softball program this year. The win was JMU’s school record 25th in a row. The Dukes are now 34-6 on the season and ranked in the top 25 of both major polls. In yesterday’s perfect game, Ford also passed former Duke Meredith Felts to become JMU softball’s all time strikeout king queen. Ford now has 584 Ks, 3 more than Felts’ 581. Jailyn’s perfect game came in the second game of a doublheader. Not to be overlooked, Megan Good secured the win and moved to a ridiculous 20-0 on the season in game one. These girls are good.

Apr 14 / Todd

The Infamous Strategic Plan

good-duke-dog-JLet’s start with what has to be a [very happy, if somewhat unexpected] JMUSB first, a second note on the Softball Dukes in just over a week. #23 Softball destroyed another CAA opponent last weekend in cruising past UNCW and ran their overall record to a gaudy 32-6 overall (a cool 11-0 in the CAA) as their assault on the major polls seems likely to keep plugging along. JMU is scheduled to be back in action at ECU tonight (Wednesday) before traveling to face a Delaware team that just fired their coach under odd circumstances this weekend. While we know very little about softball, we do know when we’re looking at a potentially historic season and a Dukes’ team with a real shot at a serious postseason run. Check out what ESPN had to say about the Dukes last week. (see #4 in the article).

Now, onto exactly the kind of midweek morning reading many of you are sitting in your cars or on the Metro dreading about an hour from now. You know, the ever-thrilling world of consultants delivering reports to management! Just think, you could be out enjoying some spring weather, but really wouldn’t you rather listen to a guy in a knit tie give a Powerpoint presentation? Or in our case, read the JMU Athletics Strategic Plan!

Seriously, before you go nuts one way or another, do yourself a favor and if you really care about JMU Sports (and you probably do if you’re willing to read us for any length of time), take a few minutes and check this thing out. This has been cannon fodder for message board trolling for months. We usually try and keep this spot a bit more positive than the boards, but even we have been skeptical – me because I rightly assumed there wouldn’t be anything conference-related and Rob because he actually works with these things for a living and figured it would be filled with corporate nonsense and double-speak. But to our surprise, it ain’t that bad. In fact, Rob’s comment to me when we first discussed it was “it’s really pretty good as these things go” and even I have to admit the same after some time to ponder. A few highlights and notes from our first pass:

– New Convo – this is the highlight and while it’s been discussed, and even approved in Richmond, it’s great to see it in ink.

– Pretty solid measurables for revenue numbers, academics, and most notably on the field/court, how many conference titles (5) and NCAA berths (7) are expected each year to show whether the AD and the coaches are meeting their goals. Needless to say, those are strong numbers and JMU hasn’t been anywhere close to meeting those lately so it’ll be interesting to see how Bourne addresses this in the next two years.

– Focus on revenue. To us, if nothing else this means they’ve got to think long and hard about which conference serves this need best.

  • Implement comprehensive plan to strengthen JMU Athletics brand nationally – 06.30.2015 (Hey, I can dream and speculate, right?!)
  • Develop and implement a comprehensive crisis management plan – 08.1.2015 (or I can come back to earth and just be happy with #CAA4Lyfe)

Despite our joking around, we seriously encourage you to peruse the plan itself before making judgments so we can at least be on the same page when we’re either drinking purple kool-aid or bashing away next time we’re tailgating or caravanning.

That said, here’s a collection of REALLY disconcerting items:

Liberty’s announced they’re going all-in on full cost of attendance. Needless to say, that’s gotta be attractive to FBS Conferences and it cannot be good for recruiting Dukes. Combined with the playoff loss that still stings, hard not to conclude that JMU is falling further down the list of Virginia football destinations.

– William & Mary released quite a clear strategic plan (with a lot less MBA-speak) of their own last week.

– Eastern Kentucky’s new AD says his goal is FBS this year (2015). No idea if it’s possible, but another school clearly stating intentions makes you wonder. Even if it doesn’t work, it’s refreshing to see an Athletics Administrator come clean about the super-tough proposition of sustainability of an entire program while staying at the FCS level for football.

Like we said above, reallllllllly hope their is some substance to that 06.30.15 date. If that date doesn’t involve FBS or a complete revamp with all available resources and fundraising being thrown towards Men’s Hoops, then whatever is announced by then is complete and utter bullshit.

Go Softball!

Apr 12 / Rob

What an Awful Way to Lose a Game. Has JMU Ever Had a Loss This Painful?

Boston University lost to the Providence Friars in last night’s NCAA Championship game. It was a pretty big upset, as Providence was the last team in the tourney and BU is one of college hockey’s heavyweights. BU led by Hobey Baker (think Heisman for college hockey) winning freshmen sensation and top American NHL prospect Jack Eichel.

Most people expected the Terriers to win. And they appeared to be on their way, cruising with a comfortable 3-2 lead in the 3rd period when goalie Matt O’Connor picked a very inopportune time to have a blooper for the ages. He caught the puck off a routine dump and then inexplicably dropped it into the goal. It both was unbelievable and unbelievably sad. Just like that it was 3-3. Then a few minutes later Providence scored again to take a 4-3 lead. The Friars held on to steal the championship. Congrats to Providence, but I’m not sure how anyone couldn’t be heartbroken for O’Connor.

BU’s diehard fans were predictably crushed, which got me thinking. Has JMU ever had a loss as painful as BU’s last night? Now obviously, the Dukes have lost plenty of games that hurt us fans, but has there ever been one with the stakes that high, where JMU let it get away in such excruciating fashion?

JMU has had a number of painful losses over the years. It was just a regular season game, but the OT loss to Maine in 2011 still haunts me. Jace Edwards was the QB (and that wasn’t even the bad part), and Maine pulled of some stupid swinging gate 2 point conversion to win. Awful. And the hoops team’s “Hot Dog” game loss to George Mason was brutal. One JMU loss stands out above pretty much all others though for me personally though. Of course I’m talking about the Dukes’ playoff gut punch defeat against Appalachian State in 2007.

To begin with, JMU controlled that game in Boone, NC, compiling 436 yards of offense versus only 330 for the Mountaineers. And the Dukes were in position to win, before giving up 9 points in the final five minutes to lose 28-27. Coughing up a lead like that late was bad, but JMU went to new lengths to make it extra painful. After Appy took a 28-27 lead with 1:10 to go, JMU marched all the way down the field and was in position to win the game with a chip shot field goal. Unfortunately, Jamal Sullivan coughed the ball up inside the 10, App State recovered, and the game was over. I don’t like to talk about it.

That’s the most painful JMU loss I can recall. What about you? Or if we want to be more pleasant, has there ever been a JMU win that was an unexpected and miraculous as Providence’s victory last night?

Apr 9 / Rob

Offseason Report: Let’s Talk JMU Dodgeball

dodgeballBoth football and basketball seasons are in the rearview mirror. Which is sort of a bummer for fans, and it’s pretty much complete misery for us as bloggers. On the bright side it also gives us a chance to get outside our comfort zones and explore new things. Today we’re going to dive into the exciting world of JMU dodgeball.

Now we know we don’t need to tell anyone about the JMU Dodgeball team. Come on, it’s college dodgeball, just trying getting through a day anywhere in this great country of ours without being dragged into a debate about it. But just for grins, go ahead and pretend you’re not intimately aware of all things JMU Dodgeball related and allow us to bring you up to speed.

Like any club worth a damn, the Dukes are a part of the National Collegiate Dodgeball Association or NCDA for short. But JMU isn’t just some struggling mid-major dodgeball program that can’t compete on the court but is kept afloat by massive corporate dollars and seemingly limitless ticket revenue. It’s a powerhouse program. And by powerhouse, we mean it’s up there with the Central Michigan University and Grand Valley State University programs of the world. You’re damn right we just said it. Anyone who tries to claim JMU isn’t on the level of CMU or GVSU doesn’t know jack about college dodgeball. read more…

Apr 6 / Rob

Hari Hall Leaves JMU Basketball to Turn Professional

JMU-RCH BKBKeeping with what has become a sort of an unofficial (and unwelcome) offseason tradition, JMU announced that a basketball player has left the program. This time it’s Hari Hall, who has left to pursue professional opportunities. Professional opportunities in music, not basketball, by the way.

Hall is a member of the hip hop group Bocaj Crew and recently signed a recording deal with Atlantic Records. JMU, or any school for that matter, losing scholarship athletes to pursue rap careers is certainly not something you hear about every day. And an out of context “player leaves to become rapper” certainly sounds kind of crazy. However, according to reports, Hall’s family is struggling financially and he felt like he had to seize this opportunity to help out. We certainly can’t fault him for that and really wish him all the best.

Hall flashed a lot of talent during this past season as a freshmen. He only played in 19 games due to suffering a concussion, but averaged 5.8 points and 2.7 boards a game. He reached double-figures in scoring 4 times, including an impressive 15 point performance in the season opener against UVA. As the saying goes, he had tremendous upside.

This will inevitably hit a nerve with the anti-Brady crew. And there’s no denying that there is a pattern of players leaving the program under Brady. In this situation though, it really sounds like a guy just chose to take a chance on something other than hoops so he can help out his family. Good luck to him. He’ll be missed.

Mar 31 / Todd

Spring Game Tailgating, Coaches Caravan

This guy's back. No need to say more than that yet.

This guy’s back. No need to say more than that yet.

Everything you need to know about Spring Football can be found here at JMU Sports. But the best thing is that “they” have finally gotten around to opening up Godwin Field to tailgating for the Spring Game. If tailgating the Spring Game doesn’t signal FBS then nothing does (settle down, that’s just a bad joke).

No decision yet on a JMUSB presence at the Spring Game, but we will likely be attending two of this year’s Coaches Caravan events with Rob likely making one of the NoVa stops and me planning for a quick trip to Charlotte (If anyone from the Triangle or the Triad is interested in carpooling let me know). These events are always odd in that they’re fun for reasons we seemingly fail to anticipate every year – namely that we always forget through the long winter that follows football season how great it is just to hang out and talk JMU sports with other Dukes – and hilariously underwhelming when it comes to what we actually want to hear – obviously something other than #CAA4Lyfe. That said, they’re usually free and always a beacon of news in the relative offseason (noting that hopefully one of our Diamond Dukes squads will still be playing in Mid-May of course). You can sign up for your event here.


Mar 30 / Todd

Softball on Historic Pace

Well, Rob’s finally been forced to leave me at the controls this week. So get ready for Sun Belt bitching, Strategic Plan slashing, and spring game updates  a Softball post! You’re damn right I’m kicking off the week with an entire post about the blazing hot JMU Softball squad. The numbers speak for themselves (cough, Men’s hoops, cough): The 25th ranked and climbing Dukes are 27-6 overall after a 6-0 start to CAA play and currently RIDING AN 18 GAME WINNING STREAK! That’ll get the attention of even the most jaded fans of non football and hoops. And that winning streak includes two-game sweeps of UNC and UVA, plus wins over Maryland and a ranked UCF team. The Dukes also beat a ranked Minnesota team and played #3 Alabama very close earlier in the year. Honestly, but for a blowout loss to #5 Michigan, the Dukes have played a top-notch schedule and been right there all season. Which is all the more impressive considering the early part of the season was played under almost unprecedented weather issues and reschedulings almost everywhere JMU went.

Don't worry, Jailyn Ford is still a star, just at the plate equally to the mound now!

Don’t worry, Jailyn Ford is still a star, just at the plate equally to the mound now!

Freshman Pitcher Megan Good has been so fantastic that last year’s freshman phenom Jailyn Ford, who you may remember led the Dukes to a superb season, a CAA title and an opening win in last year’s NCAA regionals, is now a hitting superstar and the secondary woman in the circle (see, we’re learning). Good has run her record to 16-0 with a 1.04 ERA and a ridiculous 114-21 K/BB ratio. Oh yeah, she’s also hitting a cool .415, trailing only the team’s true badass hitting star Erica Field. For now, that’s about the extent of what we can offer on the subject (though you can explore a lot more here at JMU Sports), but if these women keep rolling (less than 5 weeks to postseason play), there’s gonna be a whole lot more interested Dukes fans real quick – keep it up ladies!

Mar 26 / Rob

TBT: Lefty Driesell’s First Home Game at JMU

It’s the offseason for both hoops and football and Throwback Thursday, so we might as well take a look back. Way back. All the way back to 1988 in fact when one Charles “Lefty” Driesell was in his first year as head coach of the JMU Dukes.

The video above is of JMU’s first home game under the Lefty regime. As you can see, things were quite a bit different then. The convo was packed and in full “Electric Zoo” mode, a certain alum with a “Daaaagggggeeeerrrr” of a catch phrase was on the play by play, and the sideline reporter just might have been a New York Times best selling author. And the Dukes beat VMI 94-92.

h/t @bpmarkowitz for the video

Mar 22 / Rob

Ladies Fall to Ohio State to Officially End JMU Basketball Season

kbrooksKenny Brooks and the ladies dropped their opening round game of the NCAA tournament to Ohio State. The Buckeyes won by the score of 90-80 thanks to a trio of hot shooters. Ameryst Alston poured in 28 points and freshmen Kelsey Mitchell and Alexa Hart added 23 and 20 respectively. Precious Hall led the Dukes with 28 points, but it was Ashley Perez who kept JMU close in the second half by going 6 of 9 from deep on her way to 20 points.

It wasn’t exactly a plodding, grind ‘em out, defensive struggle. JMU managed to get off 79 field goal attempts for the game. In a weird twist, the Dukes shot 38% overall and 38% from long range. They won the battle  of the boards, out rebounding Ohio State 44 to 41 and also bested the Buckeyes in assists 19 to 16. The difference came down to shooting. Ohio State made 48% of its field goals and routinely got to the line, making 26 of 34 from the stripe. The Dukes on the other hand, only attempted 10 free throws and made 9. That’s a huge difference in a relatively close game. read more…