Mar 13 / Rob

Giving Day Is Here, So Make a Donation & You Could Be a Guest on the JMUSB Pod

JMU Giving Day sort of snuck up on us this year, so we’re a little behind the 8 ball in terms of getting a promotion together. But we hope you like the one we came up with at the last minute. It’s dead simple. Make a donation to the JMU Duke Club today (ideally above and beyond what you’re planning on giving) and you’ll be eligible to be a guest on a future episode of the JMUSB Podcast. Just make the donation and then leave a comment below, @ us on Twitter, or leave a comment or message on Facebook letting us know that you did. We’ll throw all the names in a hat and choose a lucky winner to be a guest on a future podcast. That’s all you need to do.* It’s really that simple. And don’t worry about logistics, we’ll record via a smartphone or browser, so you won’t need to come to us.

Giving Day is a big deal for JMU and a big deal for us personally. It’s an opportunity to build on JMU’s already tremendous school spirit and support the university that has given us so much. And the Duke Club is a particularly great way to support JMU for sports fans. All the money goes to support student athlete scholarships. So when you donate, you’re hoping to pay for all the athletes who give us so much joy, to get an education. It’s a win-win.

* It would also help if you’re not a complete bore and can deal with 2 incompetent podcast hosts. 

 

Mar 13 / Rob

The Latest Episode of the JMUSB Pod is The Last One on Bumpers


 

We’ve been using Bumpers to record and manage the JMUSB Podcast since it’s inception. Unfortunately, Bumpers is shutting down. Therefore, we’ll be moving the JMUSB Podcast to a new platform. We’re not sure where we’ll land, but all the episodes should continue to be available via iTunes, so it should be seamless for listeners. You just won’t be able to listen in the Bumpers app any longer.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s discuss the latest episode. In it we discuss JMU Giving Day, which is today. So break out your wallets and cut a check to good ol’ JMU everyone. Then we go around the horn with a grab bag of topics, including the state of men’s hoops, women’s NIT, lacrosse, and why it’s ridiculous for JMU to attempt to make basic human kindness a brand.

Thanks again to our podcast sponsor Pale Fire Brewing. Drop in for a beer next time you’re in the ‘burg.

Be sure to subscribe to the JMUSB Pod via iTunes.

Mar 7 / Rob

The 2013 JMU NCAA Tournament Team Really Stank Apparently

The 2013 JMU basketball team has a special place in most fans’ hearts. That year’s team won the CAA Tournament and punched its ticket to the big dance after a 19 year absence for JMU. It was a high water mark for a program that hasn’t sniffed the tourney since. Well, thanks to Mark Selig and the Washington Post, we now know that the team stank. Literally.

The former JMU basketball beat writer for the DNR, shared a great story from Joe Kuykendall in an article yesterday. Joe was one of the managers for the Dukes team that year. Among his many duties, he was responsible for washing and preparing all of the uniforms.

As you might recall, the Dukes opened the tournament with a victory over William & Mary. JMU wore its white jerseys that game, which were promptly gathered into a duffel bag, and then tossed onto the floor of Kukyendall’s hotel room a few blocks from the arena. The plan was for the team to wear purple its next game, which it did, and then the gold unis if necessary after that (ed. note: Three games in one tournament! Can you imagine?) Everything went according to plan until about 30 minutes before the tipoff of the championship game against Northeastern. Officials told JMU that its gold uniforms didn’t contrast with Northeastern’s, so they’d have to switch. That sent Joe and the other managers scrambling back to the hotel to get the duffel bag full of sweaty, stinky purple uniforms. They made it back to the arena with under 10 minutes to spare. The players suited up in the smelly jerseys and shorts, then went out and won the dang tourney.

So maybe that’s what we’ve been missing. Funky and rank uniforms. We’d try anything at this point.

Mar 5 / Rob

JMU Closes the Season With a Loss to Drexel

That’s all she wrote folks. JMU fell to Drexel in the Dean Keener round of the CAA Tournament, ending the 2017-2018 season. The Dukes played well in the opening half of the 70-62 loss, but the wheels came off down the stretch. After a season of exciting offensive play throughout the entire conference, this one was a throwback to the CAA rock fights of yesteryear. The referees called 51 fouls, which really hampered the flow of the game. Unfortunately, JMU only managed to convert fouls into 14 points thanks to shooting a pedestrian 64% from the stripe. Drexel on the other hand knocked down 85% and scored 28 points off free throws. As for the shooting from the field, the less we say about it, the better. Both teams were frankly, awful. They combined to hit only 39 of 121 attempts. Do the math. That’s truly terrible. Matt Lewis lead the Dukes in scoring with 15 on a tough shooting performance. Mosley and Banks had 13 and 10 respectively. Here are 3 key numbers after the game.

17

That is the number of field goal attempts JMU missed in a row in the second half. Yes, the Dukes missed 17 straight shots. It was awful. Missed jumpers. Missed layups. Missed put-backs. Picture a shot a team could miss and JMU probably did just that. I’ve been a JMU fan for a long, long time (which is kind of a way of saying I’ve watch a LOT of bad basketball), but I don’t recall seeing a team go that cold with the game on the line. It was uncanny. This year’s team didn’t shoot particularly well, but we never saw 17 straight misses coming. It was brutal. And it cost them a game that they could have won.

7

That’s the number of blocks Drexel’s Austin Williams had for the game. To say he did an excellent job protecting the rim in the second half wouldn’t do it justice. He did a pretty damn good Dikembe Mutombo impersonation. If he wasn’t blocking shots, he was getting Dukes to pass them up. JMU shot like crap all game. You can chalk some of that up to it just being a particularly bad night. But you also need to give Williams some credit. Basketball teams go cold all the time. Typically, you see guys try to get to the hole when the jumpers aren’t falling. JMU didn’t seem to want to get anywhere near the rim when Williams was set up down low though. His defense absolutely changed the game.

45

That’s the number of losses JMU has under Coach Lou Rowe. In 2 years. And those losses are balanced by only 20 wins. We’re stating this not say the sky is falling. We’re simply acknowledging that the record is not great under Rowe. It’s not even respectable. We get that.

However, JMU landed two players, Matt Lewis and Darius Banks on the All CAA Rookie team this year. One of Rowe’s other recruits, Stuckey Mosley, earned All CAA third team honors. JMU’s freshmen scored over 1,000 points this season. The class was responsible for 43% of JMU’s scoring. All five guys averaged at least 10 minutes of playing time.

JMU loses Ramone Snowden and Joey McLean next year. They’re both nice pieces, but as seniors they essentially became role players after they were eclipsed by their younger teammates. And that’s not a knock on them, it’s a compliment. They both showed a lot of maturity and adjusted their roles to suit the team. They played well, but the guys taking their minutes for the next few years have much higher ceilings. Banks and Lewis have All CAA potential. Mosley already made All CAA and should be even better next year.

We’re not blind to reality and we understand nobody is confusing Coach Rowe with John Wooden just yet. He’s done a really nice job putting his stamp on this team defensively. And he’s assembled a talented roster to work with. Now it’s time for him to show everyone what he’s got with the offense. We wish there were more wins too. Trust us. But we can either wallow in our misery, or we can recognize that there is real potential with the program. We choose to be positive. It’s way more fun.

Go Dukes.

Feb 27 / Rob

JMUSB Pod: CAA Hoops Preview With Brian Mull

When we came up with the idea for the JMUSB Podcast, Todd and I had a list of guests we’d like to have on, should we actually get thing off the ground. You heard many of the guys on the list during football season. Without a doubt though, our top target for hoops was Brian Mull. Thankfully, things worked out and we were lucky enough to have Brian on the latest episode to preview the CAA Basketball Tournament.

We first became fans of Brian’s work when he was the UNCW beat writer for the Wilmington Star News. He did an outstanding job covering the league at large. He no longer covers hoops for the newspaper, but is a contributor for other outlets including The Fieldhouse, the college basketball vertical at The Athletic.

On this episode, we discuss the CAA basketball regular season, including some of the teams that surprised us (in both good ways and bad ways), reminisce about the CAA Hoops of old, and take a look at this weekend’s tourney down in Charleston. It was an absolute blast to record and we think you’ll enjoy it if you’re a long time CAAhoops-head, or a relatively newbie who’s looking to get smart on the league before this weekend.

As always, thanks to Pale Fire Brewing in Harrisonburg for sponsoring the JMUSB Podcast.

Feb 27 / Rob

Dukes Beat Elon to Set a Date With Drexel

In a special mumps-delayed matchup, JMU defeated Elon in the regular season finale by the score of 90-84. This was not a CAA rock fight of yesteryear. It was a perfect example of the league in 2018, an up and down affair with plenty of good shooting in which no lead was safe. The Dukes looked to be ready to cruise home to a comfortable win after taking a double-digit lead into halftime. Elon stormed out of the break to battle back and make it a close game. Because it was the Dukes, it actually was a one possession game in the final minutes. Thankfully, the good guys knocked down the free throws when they needed to and closed out the win.

After a couple of uncharacteristically slow games, Stuckey Mosley got his groove back. He poured in 29 points. Matt Lewis was quiet from the field, but nailed 8 of 8 from the stripe, to finish with 12 points. Darius Banks dropped 18 in another strong outing. Really, everyone contributed.

The win clinched 9th place in the league for JMU, which is not last place. (Glass half-full people.) It also sets up a date with Drexel in the opening round of the CAA Tournament on Saturday. The winner of that game, earns the right to play the regular season co-champ and #1 seed, College of Charleston. The Dukes have a tough road, but anything is possible. And if you’re a Ken Pom guy, his numbers currently show JMU with the best shot of any team playing Saturday (top 6 teams get a byes) to win it all. At the very least, it’s a chance for fans to watch some good basketball and an opportunity for these young freshmen to get some tourney experience.

Feb 25 / Rob

Yep, Dukes Fans Love Some Free Chik-Fil-A Nuggets


Friend of the blog and recurring JMUSB pod guest, Bennet Conlin put together this 30 for 30 teaser parody, which made us laugh. He gave us the green light to post it here and share it with all you lovely folks. Hopefully it takes the edge off what has been a rather disappointing few days for JMU basketball.

Coach Rowe and the Dukes were on the road against Delaware this weekend, so there was no possibility of free nuggets. And well, they lost again, surrendering a 6 point lead with under 4 minutes. The 68-66 result wasn’t great, but the freshmen were. Matt Lewis and Darius Banks had 23 and 20 points respectively. Zach Jacobs, Greg Jones, and Dwight Wilson combined for another 17 points. Nobody else did much of anything, especially Develle Phillips, who only played 4 minutes. He had a strong outing in Thursday’s loss against Hofstra, so his virtual benching is a bit of a head scratcher. Chalk it up to yet another thing we can’t figure out with this season.

Feb 23 / Rob

Duke Suffer Tough Loss on One of Those Nights

The Dukes dropped a home game to Hofstra by the score of 77-61. For most of the second half the Dutchmen (that’s right) lead hovered around 20. In short, it was not a great game. It was never really in doubt actually. We’d love to really ignore it, but we get paid to write about, so here goes. (Wait, we don’t get paid for this? Kind of makes us question the last 9 years.)

We could rant and rave (like we’ve been known to do), but the truth is that this is just one loss. It was a rather ugly loss in a lot of ways, but it was just one loss. Hofstra is a solid team and the Dukes mumps-adjusted schedule caught up with them. JMU looked a little sluggish out of the gate, and Eli Pemberton made them pay. Ironically enough, Hofstra stormed out to a big lead, despite getting pretty much nothing from Justin Wright-Foreman, the CAA’s leading scorer. That’s not to say that he didn’t play well. He simply didn’t need to do much, because the rest of the team was knocking down shots with ease. He got his in the second half though, and finished in double figures for the umpteenth time in a row.

Overall, it was just a bad night for Lou Rowe’s squad. There’s really no need to break it down much further, which is good because I need to leave for work. The defense, which has improved so much all year, was a sieve for most of the first half. Hofstra’s players drove to the bucket with virtually no resistance. And the Dukes, who aren’t exactly the Golden State Warriors when it comes to shooting, had a particularly poor night from the field. As a team, JMU went 5 for 20 from long range. They definitely didn’t lose because of the refs, but the officials didn’t do them any favors either. And the few times they looked poised to make a run, they caught questionable whistles.

To virtually nobody’s surprise, Matt Lewis still played well in the loss. He paced JMU with 23 points. Perhaps more importantly, he showed some fire as a competitor. While fans like us had declared the game over shortly after the break, he never let up. And we don’t know if there’s such a thing as a good technical, but the one he drew for being a little too pumped up after a basket might have qualified. The kid can flat out play and he showed last night that he’s never going to go down quietly. We sound like a broken record, but the future is bright with this kid on the roster. Last night was just one of those nights. The shots didn’t fall and the defense was flat. It stinks, but it happens. Rowe and the Dukes have a chance to right the ship on Saturday versus a Delaware team that had an absolutely epic and demoralizing collapse against Drexel.

Feb 20 / Rob

Matt Lewis Keeps Winning CAA Rookie of the Week Awards

He did it again folks. For the fourth time this year, JMU’s Matt Lewis was selected as the CAA Rookie of the Week for men’s basketball. If you haven’t been watching, Lewis is just one of a number of Dukes’ newcomers who give us plenty of optimism about the program’s direction. After playing shooting guard in high school, he’s transitioned to the point for JMU. And he’s doing an outstanding job.

In JMU’s three games last week, Lewis averaged 21.7 points while shooting 45.5% from the field. He also knocked down 18 of 31 free throws, helping JMU pull out a couple of tight wins. JMU went 2-1 for the week, picking up a pair of wins against UNCW and Towson, and narrowly losing to the CAA leading College of Charleston. Lewis’ best game probably came in the loss, when he dropped a career high 33 points. And it was not a quiet 33 points. It was an “in your face, let’s make it obvious who the best player on the court is” sort of 33 points.

We sound like a broken record, but the roster Coach Rowe has assembled has plenty of upside. Sure, there are flaws that we’ve acknowledged. But the Dukes can play with anyone in the conference. Right now, JMU is the proverbial team that nobody wants to see in the tourney. If you’re still not tuning in and judging things off the record, you’re missing out. Players like Lewis, Stuckey Mosley, Darius Banks, Develle Phillips, and others are really fun to watch. They’re athletic and aggressive. And to our eyes at least, Rowe has started to take some steps forward as a coach. This team buys into what he’s selling. The record isn’t impressive, but this team is actually fun to watch. And it could be primed to compete for the CAA title, sooner than we think.

Feb 16 / Todd

Matt Lewis is The Truth

We know, we know, there’s no such thing as moral victories. And we know JMU has lost so many tight games late this year when they had a lead in frustrating fashions. But this game was absolutely legit from the Dukes as they took the 21-6 and clear top team in the CAA Charleston Cougars to OT before falling 81-78 in a wild affair that ended with a deep trey from CofC to break another tie. More than a few Charleston fans and writers mentioned after the game that JMU is now officially a team they don’t want to see when the pressure’s on the Cougars in North Charleston for the conference tourney two weeks from now.

And by the way, freshman point guard Matt Lewis, the player who’s been so great running the team and avoiding turnovers despite his youth and the fact he mostly played the two in high school went bananas, scoring a career high 33 points on an uber-efficient 10-16 from the field and 9-10 from the line. When we talked to DNR writer Josh Walfish about Lewis, he mentioned how tough it is for the freshman PG to really score in bunches when he’s asked to do so many other things for the Dukes. Fellow freshman Darius Banks was also outstanding with 17 and 6 and, broken record, we are still very encouraged about this group long-term.

Unfortunately, Charleston has two player of the year candidates and they were both superb with Jarrel Brantley going for putting up a strong double-double with 20 and 13 and Grant Riller scoring 32 including the game-winner.

But nothing about last night made us any less excited about the stretch run and the CAA tourney in two weeks.