Mar 3 / Rob

Dukes All Set to Open CAA Tournament in the Dean Keener Round

The Dukes defeated Hofstra, the CAA Champion for the regular season, last weekend and opened the door every so slightly to finishing in the top 6 and avoiding the play-in round. Then the slammed the door shut by losing to Elon and William & Mary at home. Thus, the Dukes finished in 8th place and will start the CAA tourney by playing in the opening round against 9th seeded Towson. The winner will face top seeded Hofstra. The worst part? The game is on Saturday, so we can’t even call it Pillow Fight Friday anymore. Actually that’s not the worst part. The worst part is that it’s the third year in a row that the Dukes have failed to avoid the opening round. That’s bad.

There’s no shame in losing to William & Mary. The Tribe was red hot down the stretch and is a team with plenty of talent. But losing to Elon is bad. Doing so at home with a lot on the line is ever worse. And doing it for the second time this season, is downright brutal. And the Dukes under Coach Rowe are a perfect 3 for 3 in finishing in the bottom four.

Both of the most recent losses came down to poor shooting. JMU was an abysmal 25-69 against the Tribe and 22-51 against the Phoenix. That’s the story with these Dukes. The offense looks pretty much the same game in and game out. Whether or not they win, seems to come down to purely if they get hot shooting. It rarely varies. If they hit shots then win. If the shots aren’t falling though, then watch out. Because to most fans’ eyes, it doesn’t seem like they adjust their offensive approach. Lots of one on one play and launching threes.

Frankly, it’s exhausting to be a JMU hoops fan right now. The Dukes can’t even finish in the top half of a CAA that is nowhere near as strong as it used to be. As of today, it’s the 18th ranked league in D1. And JMU is one of the teams dragging the league down.

The Dukes showed flashes this season, but barring something truly extraordinary happening next weekend, this season will be a major disappointment. Nobody expected JMU to compete with Hofstra and Northeastern for the title. But nobody expected the Dukes to get swept by Elon either.

Last year JMU played a lot of close games and had us excited to see the young team develop. This year the team struggled to show any consistency and often played down to their opponents. With only two seniors and a roster built around sophomores and freshmen, there’s reason to believe they could improve. But this is not where JMU wants to be and a decision on Rowe’s future must be made after the season. Do you judge him on the record and cut ties now? Or do you focus on the talent and the peaks and give him a chance to turn things around? It’s a big debate. And JMU can’t afford to get it wrong.


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  1. Mike in Ohio / Mar 3 2019

    I am not one to scream for coaches to be fired unless they are total assholes and don’t win or are doing something illegal but I think it is time to cut ties with coach Rowe. If the team had been something like 5-25 last year and improved to 13-18 this year, that would be improvement, but the record from last year to this year is similar or even a little worse. And as you pointed out, every year during his tenure the team has finished in the bottom 4….no improvement in terms of where they place in the conference, which as you pointed out is not exactly the ACC. With the new Convo Center opening you would hope to have more than 1-2000 people rattling around in there with a mediocre team to watch so I think it is time for someone else to take over and maybe not a JMU former player this time. Rowe’s time has reminded me of when Sherman Dillard was coach. But the biggest disappointment has been the offensive play, which you pointed out, seems to consist of standing around with someone going one on one or a bunch of passing the ball around with seemingly no idea of an offensive set to run, and then with the shot clock running down, a three pointer is put up. The team has lots of underclassmen but so do a lot of other teams and they seem to play smarter and more exciting basketball. Just think it is time to move to someone else but Bourne may think that 3 years is not enough time for Rowe to prove himself so I would not be surprised if he is back for another year.

  2. Hart / Mar 4 2019

    Bourne publicly stated 3 years ago that he needed better than Matt Brady. In his last 2 seasons, Brady finished 20-11 tied for 3rd losing in the quarterfinals and he finished 19-12 tied for 1st losing in the quarterfinals.
    The expectation bar was set higher than that.

    Not only has Rowe failed to produce better results that Bourne was looking for, he has actually delivered a huge regression in results. It has been 3 long years of awful basketball. Unless Rowe guides JMU to an improbable upset run to the CAA tourney title, he should be fired.

    Results matter and Rowe isn’t even in the neighborhood of Bourne’s stated expectations.
    The decision isn’t even hard.
    The evidence is overwhelming.

  3. Chris / Mar 4 2019

    ^^^ + 1 on the Dillard comment

    Dukes have been abysmal since Curry graduated and Brady was axed. In Rowe’s defense the cupboards were bare when he came in. Dukes are more athletic but tremendously more inconsistent. They are young, yes, but are they improving as a team? The results say no and I think a lot of the blame falls on the coaching staff.


  4. Zac / Mar 6 2019

    The one single factor keeping coach Rowe here is money. (Maybe the second reason is how he runs the program, but the win/loss performance is nowhere in the conversation, and good guy credit only gets you so far). Whether we like it or not it’s a top reason how and why (athletics) decisions are made. LR has two years left on his contract. Based on how JMU does business I do not believe our administration will eat two years of the contract. I think they would dismiss him next year if the goals of the program, established clearly by Bourne in 2016, are not met.

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