Mar 22 / Rob

Because Y’all Could Probably Use a Football Fix

We’re enjoying the Dukes success across all spring sports, but sometimes we just need a little something from our FCS National Champion JMU Football team. And we figured you did too. So while we’re all pumped to see Megan Good and her teammates vault into the Top 10, Coach Ike continue to turn baseball around, and the ladies march on the WNIT, please enjoy this video of spring practice courtesy of Coach Tripp Weaver. Football season is only 164 days away.

Mar 19 / Rob

Dukes Defeat UVA to Advance to WNIT Sweet Sixteen

After failing to earn a bid to the Big Dance, the Dukes are making the most of their Women’s NIT experience. Precious Hall and her teammates knocked off their second straight in-state opponent Saturday afternoon in the Convo. This time it was the UVA Cavaliers by the score of 61-55.

The Dukes made only 11 of 29 shots in the first half, but still managed to take a 30-26 lead into the break. UVA came out of the gates strong in the second half and carried a lead into the final minutes. The Dukes had a tough time knocking down shots in the second half, managing to hit only 34.8% overall and a meager 27.3% from long range. However, the ladies stepped up and hit the big buckets when it mattered most. Trailing 55-51 with 1:33 remaining, Precious Hall lead the Dukes on a 10-0 run to cap the come from behind victory. The highlight was a Steph Curry like bomb from trey by Hall to give JMU a lead it never surrendered. The senior scored a game high 28 points in the win. Next up for the Dukes is a home game against Villanova on Thursday.

Mar 19 / Rob

Megan Good Drove In As Many Runs In One Game, As She’s Given Up All Year

megan good pitchMegan Good is good. You know this. After picking up the win on Saturday against Binghamton, her record moved to a perfect 15-0 on the season. The win was a 6-0 shutout, because of course it was. Ten of Good’s wins have been shutouts. She struck out a a season high 14 batters and gave up only a single hit. And for good measure, she managed to hit a 3 run homer. And what’s significant about those 3 runs driven in? They’re equal to the 3 earned runs she’s given up as a pitcher all year. Apparently, it’s not enough that she be a lights out pitcher with a minuscule 0.22 ERA and 140 strikeouts. She’s also got the second best batting average on the team at .351 and a OPS of .965. Like we said, she’s good. Very, very good.

Update: Since we posted this, Good has won another game. And yes, it was a shutout. That’s a program single season record of 11 thus far. 

Mar 13 / Todd

GIVING DAY IS BACK TODAY! (with a JMUSB challenge)

keep-calm-and-bleed-purple-14Do you root?! Do you bleed purple? Do you care about the quality of education your beloved James Madison University is providing to it’s current crop of work hard/play hard students? Do you remember how much fun it was to see the incredible outpouring of Dukes love on Giving Day last year? Or heavens forbid, did you miss out on the action last year? Are you home with your kids on a snow day and just aimlessly checking Twitter because you’ve finished reading the entire internet and can’t take any more political news?

Well if you answered yes to any of those questions, today (Tuesday, March 14th) is your day! As we said last year, Giving Day is a great chance to support JMU. And it doesn’t have to be about Athletics if that’s not even your thing. There are numerous different aspects of the university you can support today. And you can do it at any level that works for you. 10, 20, 1000 dollars – all are most welcome. This is a day when there is truly power in numbers and we’re confident JMU would love to have you even if your budget is tight and/or you’ve never given before.

And don’t forget, we’re even doing our very own JMUSB challenge. As we noted last week, our individual donation levels will never win us awards or club seats, and we can hope for no more this year than a few Rootin’ Rewards, but we are hereby announcing the major very small JMUSB Official Giving Day Challenge. For every donor that notes us as their “referral” or “how did you hear about Giving Day” when they make their donation (all funds – not just Duke Club – count for us), we will donate $1 for JMUSB in addition to our personal donations up to $100. In other words, if 100 folks note us as their referral source, we will donate an additional $100 to the Duke Club. Please comment on this post or #JMUSBchallenge us on Twitter by 10:00 p.m. Tuesday (so we still have time to get our donation in even though there’s no stopping Giving Day till the stroke of midnight) to let us know. Added bonus, if anyone joins the Duke Club from the state of New Mexico at the $25 level or higher (we’re looking at you Nat Conley), we’ll match that as well, just hit us up with #LandofEnchantmentDukeClubDonor). For the record #JMUGivingDay and #ProudandTrue are the actual official JMU hashtags for the day.

So get ready to be a part of what will hopefully be one of the biggest fundraising days since 1908!

Mar 12 / Rob

JMU Sports Weekend Wrap: More Good Than Bad

Good stareIf you felt like Earth got momentarily knocked off its axis yesterday, let us reassure that it did not. It probably just felt that way because Megan Good allowed a run to score in a 10-2 victory over ECU. It was the first earned run the junior pitcher had surrendered since way back on February 17. In fact, it broke a streak of 70.1 straight innings without giving up an earned run. It ballooned her ERA all the way up to 0.23 for the season. You can do the math yourself if you don’t believe us, but trust us. She’s a perfect 13-0 on the year, with 9 shutouts, including 1 no-hitter. Along the way she’s racked up 126 strikeouts and has a meager 3 earned runs in 90 innings pitched. If she wasn’t a Duke, we’d say that’s just unfair. Good and her teammates also defeated Pittsburgh 11-0 to move to 21-3 for the year.

Unfortunately, things didn’t work out quite so well for the Dukes on the hardwood. Precious Hall and the Lady Dukes picked the wrong night to have a very bad day. Coach O’Regan’s team failed in its bid to become one of 63 teams invited to play in UConn’s coronation, by losing to Elon 78-60 in the CAA Championship. Elon was the tourney’s #1 seed and deserved the win. The Phoenix came out shooting great and making 50% from the field in the first half. They actually shot even better after the break, hitting a 57% clip. The Dukes on the other hand were off coming out of the gates, and never managed to get on track. The ladies shot an abysmal 22.8% from the field. Precious Hall went down fighting, with 32 points. It was all Elon, all night though. The Dukes now wait and see what their post season fate has in store.

The Diamond Dukes picked up another series win over the weekend. The boys swept Coppin State in a Saturday double-header. It’s still early, but Coach Ike appears to have JMU Baseball heading in the right direction. After a couple of down years toward the end of the Spanky era, the Dukes are winning ballgames again. And they’re doing it in an exciting fashion. They scored a whopping 28 runs and 6 homers over the 2 games. At 11-3, it’s JMU’s best start since 2011. This is definitely a team to keep an eye on once CAA play starts up.

The JMU women’s lacrosse team (not to be confused with the JMU men’s varsity team, which still does not exist), dropped its second straight contest on Saturday. The Dukes fell to Rutgers 12-9 at home, after dropping a close on on the road to #6 Penn State earlier in the week. It’s never good to lose, but this team has always scheduled some challenging out of conference opponents to get ready for CAA play. This year’s no different, with a game against #1 Maryland still to come before a huge clash with #15 Towson to start league play. We’ve seen nothing so far to make us think, the ladies can’t take care of business and win the CAA.

Mar 8 / Todd

Giving Day is Back (and we’re issuing an official JMUSB challenge)!

Megan Good Pitching

If Ms. Good doesn’t get you fired up for Giving Day, nothing will!

So the ginormous success that was JMU’s inaugural Giving Day is coming back next week and expectations are rightfully sky high. Last year at this time JMU had no idea how their first 24-hour challenge would go. Expectations were low for all five funds included in the Dukes first foray into the recent trend of an all-out sprint for much needed financial lifeblood to be pumped into universities after years of declining state and federal funding. A kid from the Breeze even wrote a misguided opinion piece slamming the event.

And the Duke Club as the only athletics-specific fund was particularly nervous. They fired Men’s Hoops Coach Matt Brady on this day last year and they’d recently lost Everett Withers to allegedly FBS Texas St., replacing him with up-and-coming, but generally unknown Mike Houston. In fact, when we discussed promoting the event with the Duke Club’s hardworking and open-minded Meredith Cox a few weeks before the event, we specifically noted our hesitation because we thought the potential firing of Brady would be a bigger story to us than a silly fundraising challenge with an inexplicable treasure hunt theme.

Needless to say, both JMU and your ridiculous, moronic old-guy bloggers could not have been more wrong about the excitement a 24-hour lovefest of all things Dukedom would generate! When it was all said and done, JMU would crush their goals for the day and the Duke Club would absolutely destroy their humble goal of one full in-state scholarship, or $24,500 by raising an astonishing $128,735.00.  The University as a whole raised a whopping $338,964.00 from 2840 different donors. And most surprising of all to everyone involved, JMUSB would play a small role in the stunning haul, apparently referring enough folks and building passion for Giving Day in such a way that we would win the only non-douchebaggery “major award” we’ll ever win from the Duke Club along with considerably more famous Dukes Arthur Moats and Justin Partlow.

This year, four things have changed. First, the goals for Giving Day have shot through the roof after last year’s success and all the love flowing around the university in no small part thanks to that then-unknown ball coach. Second, JMU is scrapping the ridiculous theme from last year in favor of the much more Dukes-appropriate “Dukes ALWAYS show up!” (apparently they also wisely scrapped part two of that “for the tailgate!”). Third, Giving Day is taking place next Tuesday, which happens to be Pi Day – needless to say if you’re dork enough to write a blog about JMU sports for eight years you’re dork enough to celebrate Pi Day every year and this year we now have extra motivation. And finally, we are in absolutely no way skeptical about this event this time around. We can wholeheartedly say a) PARTICIPATE at any level you can and b) we’re not selling out by saying that for this insanely worthy cause.

Seriously, an actual award (and local brews of course)

Seriously, an actual award

On that note, our individual donation levels will never win us awards or club seats, and we can hope for no more this year than a few Rootin’ Rewards, but we are hereby announcing the major very small JMUSB Official Giving Day Challenge. For every donor that notes us as their “referral” or “how did you hear about Giving Day” when they make their donation, we will donate $1 for JMUSB in addition to our personal donations up to $100. In other words, if 100 folks note us as their referral source, we will donate an additional $100 to the Duke Club. Please comment on this post or #JMUSBchallenge us on Twitter by 10:00 p.m. Tuesday (so we still have time to get our donation in even though there’s no stopping Giving Day till the stroke of midnight) to let us know. Added bonus, if anyone joins the Duke Club from the state of New Mexico at the $25 level or higher (we’re looking at you Nat Conley), we’ll match that as well. For the record #JMUGivingDay and #ProudandTrue are the actual official JMU hashtags for the day.

Dukes won the ‘ship in football, women’s hoops hosting the conference tourney this weekend, softball and lax nationally ranked and looking at huge seasons and the love for JMU is an all-time record high, so it truly is time to SHOW the eff UP next Tuesday! Go Dukes!

Finally, fair warning we’re going to be insufferable on Twitter next Tuesday. But if it’s anything like last year, it’s going to be an amazing day.

Mar 7 / Todd

Men’s Hoops Over, Women Getting Started, Giving Day Next Week!

This is a quick post to set up a big couple of weeks coming up! We’ll start with hoops, but we really want you all to look out for a special post tomorrow. Warning, old guys are trying to catch up and we’re hoping to have lots of new stuff coming up.

Well, we’re a few days late in wrapping up a forgettable JMU Men’s Hoops season, but after a first-round win on Friday, the Dukes played hard but fell as expected to the two-seed Charleston on Saturday. This season was a strange one, as a disastrous November and December Out-of-Conference start to the season understandably fed the obvious narrative that this team was terrible and Coach Rowe was over his head. But after that 2-10 start, and without excusing that start, the Dukes quietly went a respectable and not unexpected 8-13 the rest of the way, mostly in conference play. We’ve always been most excited about Coach Rowe as a recruiter and with seven seniors leaving the program, he’ll certainly get his shot this offseason to upgrade the roster. We do feel a bit bad for this group of seniors, most of whom joined a program we all thought was on the rise after the ’13 tourney run. Cabarkapa, Lukic, Kent, Satkus, and Dalembert were all in that group (Vodonavich was around for the tourney run and Brown transferred in later) and all appeared to work hard for the program throughout their time and never had issues off the court and for that this group deserves thanks regardless of this year’s record. But an injuries to the promising Dalembert and the glaring lack of a true point this year pretty much scuttled any hopes of a better finish.

Kent JumperIn more hopeful news, the women HOST the CAA tournament (thank goodness for getting that thing out of Upper Marlboro) this weekend. They open play Thursday at 5 against the winner of UNCW/Charleston on Wednesday. They’re the two seed (sorry about the locale there top-seed Elon), but at the Convo anything seems possible.

Finally, JMU’s second annual Giving Day is coming up one week from today, next Tuesday, March 14th. Last year’s event was a home run for the entire university, including the Duke Club, and this year could be even better! We’ll have a special JMUSB challenge so come back tomorrow for the full announcement!

Mar 4 / Rob

JMU Gets First CAA Tourney Win Since 2013

JMU knocked off Drexel by the score of 80-70 in the opening round of the CAA tournament last night. Yes, the victory came on Pillow Fight Friday, and the Dukes have had a long, long season, but it’s still worth celebrating. For one thing, it’s a win in March Madness, and those are always fun. Perhaps more importantly, it’s JMU’s first CAA Tourney win since all the way back in the magical 2013 season. read more…

Mar 2 / Rob

Here Is JMU’s Path to the CAA Tourney Title

Kent JumperThe CAA Basketball Tournament kicks off tomorrow. The excitement is a notch or two below “Frisco level” for JMU fans. Or maybe it’s not and all of you have just done an excellent job of hiding the buzz from us. These things happen when a team fails to reach double digits in wins and are in a position where even a miracle run to the NCAA title would leave them under .500. This probably isn’t helping create any buzz, so let’s just move on.

Our beloved Dukes kick things off tomorrow night against Drexel. That’s right, the Dukes are back playing on Pillow Fight Friday. And they’re playing a Drexel team they split the season series with. Both teams had their moments this year, and the game should actually be competitive. If you haven’t watched JMU much this year, the Dukes play a very slow and deliberate style. They give up only 69.7 points per game. That’s the second best in the league. The reality is that they’re a middle of the pack defensive team (that really misses YoYo’s rim protection) and the low scoring is primarily due to pace of play. Further enforcing the slow pace argument is the fact that JMU scores only 66.2 points per game, despite shooting a respectable .445 from the field.

Drexel is similarly average to below average in most ways. The Dragons do have Rodney Williams though. And he’s a stud. He’s probably not “good enough to carry his team to 4 wins in Charleston” good, but he’s a player. Don’t sleep on JMU’s Jackson Kent though. If you haven’t been watching, Kent has stepped his game up and proven that he can go for 20 plus points on any given night. The game is a toss up, but JMU can win it. Let’s just assume that they will.

OK, so after beating the Dragons in a CAA rock fight, the Dukes would move on to face Charleston on Saturday. Yes, Charleston finished second in the CAA. That’s impressive. But here’s a fun fact. We all know that JMU has struggled in CAA tournament play since its run to the Big Dance back in 2013. In fact, JMU hasn’t won a tourney game since if memory serves. But Charleston has only won 2 CAA games in the entire history of the program!* That’s so bad, we almost want to root for them. Almost. But it seems pretty obvious that JMU will win.

So Charleston goes down and the Dukes move on to face the winner of Northeastern vs. Towson. If we know anything about JMU sports, it’s that the Dukes don’t lose to Northeastern or Towson. Ever. Well, except when they do. But while Towson is an athletically gifted team, JMU managed to beat them earlier and can do it again. Northeastern has struggled with injuries all year and the Dukes split with them too. No reason to think JMU can’t beat them either. Let’s chalk that one up as a W.

And with that, the Dukes would be playing to cut down the nets and go dancing. At that point, it would be a full on Cinderalla story that makes March so mad. Hoops fans everywhere would be eying the CAA in anticipation of a 14-22 squad going dancing. Which is to say that JMU is about to pretty famous. The Dukes would crush no matter who they play.

OK, so this little scenario is unlikely. At best. But it’s March and crazy stuff happens and you shouldn’t ignore the Dukes this weekend. They might lose on Friday, but they might not. It’s been a long season for sure. Jackson Kent and his senior teammates have given their all for the entire season. The results haven’t been what we all wanted, but this team still deserves our support. It’s March and anything can happen.

* Yeah, we know. We just don’t care. 

Feb 26 / Rob

JMU Softball Win Highlights Big Sports Weekend

Yes, we’re leading with JMU softball, despite the fact that the men’s basketball team played its regular season finale over the weekend. The softball team split a pair on the road against the #2 nationally ranked Auburn Tigers. The Dukes snapped the Tigers’ 13 game winnings streak with a 1-0 shutout win. The mens’ hoops team on the other hand, lost a meaningless season finale to Hofstra after already locked themselves into the 7 seed and a return to Pillow Fight Friday in the CAA Tournament. We’ll always root for Coach Rowe and the Dukes, but it’s been a long season and our attention seems to have already shifted to Megan Good and the girls on the diamond. We’re not trying to throw shade at the men. We’ll address it in a separate post, but we believe there is reason to be optimistic for the program under Rowe. This spring though, it’s all about the other sports.

Quite frankly, Megan Good is a badass. If you’re not jumping on the Dukes Softball bandwagon, it’s really your loss. Coach Mickey Deane has built a tremendous program and the girls are showing no signs of dropping off after last year’s historic season. The win over Auburn today, brought the ladies to 12-2 on the season. The team is poised to make another run through the CAA and beyond. If you’re softball fan, you know this. If you’re not a softball fan, give it a chance. The team is a ton of fun.

Good and her teammates were just one highlight in an overall great weekend for the Dukes. Actually, in exception to both squads on the hardwood, it was a pretty epic few days. Coach Ike and the Diamond Dukes busted out the big bats and dropped a football score in a win over UNC Asheville. It’s early, but all signs point to Martin Ikenberry being a great hire.

Women’s Lacrosse Coach Shelley Klaes-Bawcombe has been at JMU has a few more years in purple & gold than Coach Ike. With the #19 nationally ranked Dukes’ 15-4 win over High Point Saturday in the home opener, Coach Shelley became the all time winningest coach in JMU lacrosse history. The win was her 119th. That’s one more than former coach and JMU Hall of Famer Dee McDonough. It’s also 119 more than any JMU men’s lacrosse coach, because JMU still doesn’t have a varsity team.

Not to be overlooked, the swimming & diving Dukes had a pretty great weekend of their own. Olivia Lehman took first place in both the 1 meter and 3 meter diving at the CAA Championships. Overall, the swimmers took 2nd behind William & Mary.

All in all, it was a great weekend to be a Duke. Just like it always is. All of the spring sports are in full swing and both hoops squads are ready to make some noise in their respective CAA tourneys. The woman probably gave up any hope of an at large bid with today’s loss, but they can still secure the CAA #1 seed with a win and some help in the regular season finale. The men have nothing to lose and are ready to make March a little mad starting Friday night. We’ll be back this week with a little pre-tourney coverage.