Feb 13 / Rob

JMUSB Pod: Talking Hoops With Josh Walfish


 

Josh Walfish was our guest on the latest episode of the JMUSB Podcast. Josh covers both JMU men’s and women’s hoops for the DNR and he joined us to talk about each program. We discussed why there’s reason for optimism on the men’s side and attempt to figure out exactly what the ladies need to do to close out the season and win the CAA title. After that we go around the horn with some other spring sports. Finally, while you know we love us some Pale Fire Arrant IPA and Deadly Rhythm Pale Ale, we each share our personal Mount Rushmore (Mount Crushmore?) of beers.

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

Subscribe to the JMUSB Pod via Bumpers or iTunes.

Feb 13 / Rob

Kristen Guadian Had one of the Top 10 Plays in All of College Sports Last Week

Kristen Gaudian scored 5 goals in JMU’s big 15-14 win over UNC Saturday. The final goal won the game in the second overtime. It was a fitting way to cap an epic performance. The goal didn’t only clinch the season opening victory for the Dukes, it was judged to be one of the top 10 plays in the NCAA last week. Not in NCAA lacrosse mind you, but the entire NCAA. All sports. And for good measure Gaudian was also named the Brine/US Lacrosse National Player of the Week.

Feb 6 / Rob

JMU Basketball Cancels Two Games Due to Mumps

We’ve seen some weird stuff with JMU hoops over the years. Player departures, freak injuries, and even games lost due to an idiot tossing a hot dog on the court. But we can file this under things we’d never thought we’d say about JMU hoops. The Dukes have cancelled their next two games, Thursday vs. UNCW and Saturday at Elon, due to a potential mumps outbreak. That’s right, mumps.

Reports thus far indicate that one member of the JMU basketball staff and others are being tested. Head Coach Lou Rowe is among those being tested. There is also one player who could potentially be infected.

While we’re prone to use humor and attempt to laugh our way some of the bad breaks related to Dukes basketball. This doesn’t seem like a joking manner though. The most common symptoms of mumps include fever, body aches, headaches, and loss of appetite. According to the CDC however, there can be complications that lead to things such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis. There is a vaccine however, and studies show that it works for about 90% of individuals who get two doses.

Canceling both games so that everyone can recover and avoid spreading the disease is unquestionably the right move. Let’s just hope everyone is taken care of and back to full health soon.

 

Feb 6 / Rob

JMUSB Pod with Head Lacrosse Coach Shelley Klaes-Bawcombe


The latest JMUS podcast is live and available for your listening pleasure. In this episode, we welcomed JMU lacrosse’s all time winningest coach and JMU Athletics Hall of Fame inductee Shelley Klaes-Bawcombe. It’s a fun conversation that touches on Coach’s experience as both a player and coach at JMU, her scheduling philosophy, expectations for this year’s top 20 team, and how she and some of her fellow coaches brought a little sanity to the recruiting game. We also talk a bit about men’s and women’s hoops, before wrapping things up with some Super Bowl snack talk (it’s always food with us).

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

Subscribe to the JMUSB Pod via Bumpers or iTunes.

Feb 2 / Rob

JMU Lost Again and Now We Question Everything

Stop us if you’d heard this one before, but JMU lost another one possession game. They played tough and had several chances to close it out, but poor offensive execution, sloppy play, and defensive lapses plagued them in crunch time. Good job, good effort, but the Dukes still lost to Drexel by the score of 76-74. The loss moved JMU to 6-18 overall and 2-9 in league play. They’re all alone in last place and barring a few big upsets down the stretch, are very likely to stay there.

Stucky Mosley and Matt Lewis both played well, despite some costly mistakes in crunch time. The duo combined to score 48 of the Dukes’ 74 points. JMU had a chance to tie, but a layup at the buzzer was blocked. Tough break, but at least JMU took its best shot (read: not an ill advised 3 pointer). It’s great to see the Dukes hang tough in close games, but they’re still losing. And last night they lost due to sloppy execution on offense in crunch time, and an inability to lock down perimeter shooters all night.

It’s not an easy time to be a JMU hoops fan. Yesterday we tried to make the case that JMU was pointed in the right direction. Thanks to some astute comments, we realized that was a bit much. We know things are bad. As fans staring down the barrel of another losing season, we’re just looking for reasons to not abandon ship. Yesterday’s post was an attempt to say that there is enough talent on the roster to believe that things can improve. Whether or not that talent is surrounded by the right coaching and resources to succeed is up for debate. read more…

Feb 1 / Rob

Are the Dukes Pointed in the Right Direction?

JMU Basketball plays at Drexel tonight. The Dukes currently sit at 6-17 overall and 2-8 in league, with just 8 games remaining before the CAA tourney. They’re last in the CAA. This is coming on the heels of a season in which they went 10-23 and finished 8th in the league. On paper at least, things are looking pretty bleak. But are they getting better or worse?

We don’t want to debate whether or not Matt Brady, whose JMU team won 20 games in his final year, deserved to be let go. And we don’t want to have an argument about whether Head Coach Lou Rowe was the right guy for the job. What we’d like to figure out, is if folks think there’s light at the end of this tunnel, or if this is a train headed for a crash. So try to forget all of the Brady and Rowe stuff and just think about the team right now. Do you think it’s trending up or trending down?

Based on the records, the most reasonable response is probably to shrug your shoulders and say it doesn’t matter. The bottom of the CAA is the bottom of the CAA. Unfortunately, it seems like most fans have just sort of checked out and probably won’t return until the Dukes see rise in the standings. We’ve stuck around though. And surviving the Dillard and Keener years, we’ve developed a thick skin when it comes to JMU hoops. Things could always be worse.

Positive Indicators

There are a few reasons to believe JMU is getting better. And the primary one is that the overall talent level of the roster has been upgraded. We don’t want to name names or disparage any past Dukes, but from our perspective there are guys who started or got major minutes over the last 3-4 years, who probably wouldn’t see the court for this team. Rowe has recruited a number of freshmen and transfers who are more athletic and gifted than many recent players. Stucky Mosley and Matt Lewis have deservedly gotten the majority of the hype, but Phillips, Banks, Wilson and others are have a lot of upside.

And despite the poor record, the Dukes do some things well. They’ve been the best at taking care of the basketball in league play, with a turnover percentage of just 13.5%. For a young team that has virtually no experience playing as a unit, that’s a positive sign. And despite the fact that they’ve let opponents shoot well, they’ve blocked a lot of shots and forced a lot of turnovers.

They’ve also played team’s tough and have been in virtually every game. They’ve suffered some heartbreaking close losses and aren’t getting blown out of the gym. If you just tuned in for a single game, it’s almost unquestionable that you’d think the Dukes were on the brink of turning the corner.

Negative Indicators

That talk above about JMU playing team’s close? Well they’re still losing. As they saying goes, “you are what your record says you are.” If that’s your belief, then we’ve got nothing for you. They’re going to end up in the play-in round of the CAA tourney and are guaranteed to finish with a losing record. Again.

The Dukes don’t shoot well either. They can get to the basket and score using their athleticism, but the team struggles to create easy shots. In today’s game, that’s a tough thing to overcome. Other mid majors have shown that sometimes the quickest path to success is to develop a drive and kick offense featuring a few reliable long range shooters. JMU hasn’t been able to do that. They’ve got an effective field goal percentage of 47.9% (286th in the nation). They’re not very good from long range and well, they’re not outstanding shooters from anywhere on the court. Watching the games, our eyes tell us that the poor shooting is more a result of bad shot selection than poor technique. The fact that JMU is pretty good from the FT line backs up the notion that the technique isn’t the problem. Maybe the offense will improve as these guys get more experience. Or maybe there’s a problem with the offensive philosophy in general.

Now What?

The record is bad. We get that. And some of the underlying metrics don’t paint a pretty picture. The offense looks lost at times and things have fallen apart late in games. But, Matt Lewis has earned CAA Rookie of the Week three times. Stucky Mosley is averaging 19 points a game. Develle Phillips gives the Dukes a post presence and can rebound the basketball. Darius Banks has had several big double-doubles and shown flashes of greatness. So Rowe can recruit. But the late game execution is concerning, which points back to both inexperience and coaching. We still think that the talent upgrade is reason enough to think the Dukes are are pointed in the right direction. We won’t argue that they’ve taken a weird step back route to get here, but we think things will get better. Maybe we’re crazy or drunk on Purple Kool Aid though. We’ll see.

Jan 30 / Rob

JMUSB Pod: Olympic Talk With Sports Agent Doug Eldridge

In the latest episode of the JMUSB pod, Dukes alum Doug Eldridge stops by. We chat with him about his evolution from JMU track athlete to successful sports agent running his own agency. And since it’s almost time for the winter Olympics, we discuss a few of his clients heading to the games and how the athlete’s stories often matter as much as (or more than) their performances. We also touch on both men’s and women’s hoops, before we close by rambling on about some of our favorite monuments, memorials, and attractions.

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

Subscribe to the JMUSB Pod via Bumpers or iTunes.

Jan 25 / Rob

JMU Gains a Football Coach, But Loses a Softball Star

JMU made a couple of big announcements on Wednesday. One of them has fans very excited, and the other one has fans in a bit of a panic.

First the good news. Head Coach Mike Houston hired Steve Shankweiler to be the new Offensive Line Coach. Shank (can we call him Shank?) will replace Bryan Stinespring who left to join the Maryland Terrapins staff. Like Stinespring did, he brings a wealth of experience to the ‘burg. He’s been in coaching for over 40 years, with over half as an offensive coordinator. He most recently served as a defensive analysts for NC State, but he’s really known for coaching offensive and building some rather impressive offensive lines at places such as ECU, Cincinnati, and Georgia Tech. He’s a terrific hire to fill the big vacancy that Stinespring’s departure created.

And now the bad news. Megan Good is out for the entire 2018 softball season. The school announced that she suffered some sort of knee injury. Not a lot of details were provided, but she did say that she’ll be back to play next season. Presumably that means that she’ll take a redshirt year this season.

Good of course was the Dukes best pitcher, and arguably the best pitcher in the entire NCAA. Given how reliant college softball teams are on their aces, this is bad news for the Dukes. There’s no real sugarcoating it. However, maybe we can grasp for a bit of a silver lining. The Dukes are in the market for a full time head coach after Mickey Deane left for Auburn. The prospect of coaching Megan Good next year only makes the job more attractive. But for now, it’s a real dagger for interim coach Loren LaPorte and the rest of the JMU softball program.

Jan 23 / Rob

JMUSB Pod: JMU Hoops Has a Winning Streak

In the latest edition of the JMUSB Podcast, we chat about JMU basketball’s winning streak. That’s right. The boys have finally strung together a few Ws. We also discuss a few of our favorite teams, that weren’t really “our” teams. It’s probably the first time since the game ended in Frisco that we haven’t had to fake enthusiasm for talking JMU sports. Give it a listen.

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

Subscribe to the JMUSB Pod via Bumpers or iTunes.

Jan 19 / Todd

Men’s Basketball Wins a Game!

Really, that happened. Men’s hoops actually won a CAA game. And even more incredibly, they didn’t just win the game, but they did it in grand style by turning the tables on a top-half team and coming back from down 10 in the last two minutes to tie the game and then cruising in OT. As you probably know, they’d become almost comically expert at being on the other end of this, racing out to leads and then finding ever-more-ridiculous ways to blow games.

Not sure if the personal interjections make this better or worse, but it’s also confession time. I quit on this game with about three minutes to go feeling like Charlie Brown with the football being pulled away again for even having invested time and hope when they had run out to a solid first-half lead and then given it away again. After watching a 40-28 Dukes lead turn into a 49-48 deficit midway through the second, one of The Breeze’s outstanding writer’s this year, Kevin Romm (@Kevin_Romm) tweeted something about “this could come down to the last shot” and we snakily said something about that boding well. Once the Dukes had fallen into the hole in the last five minutes, I shut it down and started thinking about how I’d write about the meaning of the word “bode” and, in an homage to the original Wizznutzz blog that was one of our earliest inspirations, go off on a tangent about despondent Russian poetry and how that relates to following a truly horrible team. [Side note: Hey Wizards fans, if you aren’t old enough to have suffered through the Gar Heard/Calbert Cheney/God Shamgod years, then you don’t get to complain about this year’s team being inconsistent].

Alas, the joke’s on me, and I was thrilled to go back and watch highlights a couple hours later. Short version is this. Stuckey Mosely buried a deep three in the last ten seconds of regulation to force OT. Probably the biggest shot of the year for JMU because they would hit the gas in OT, where they never trailed and pulled away. And the surprise star of the night was freshman Darius Banks, who absolutely went off with 20 points and 15 huge rebounds, both career highs by considerable margins. Mosely did his thing as usual, leading all scorers with 24, but the Dukes had real balance last night with not only Banks, but solid contributions across the stat sheet from Ramone Snowden, Matt Lewis, and Develle Phillips.

And not to get all carried away, but a – dare we say it? – winning streak could be on the horizon with the CAA’s other cellar-dweller Drexel visiting the Convo Saturday at 4 p.m.