Apr 18 / Rob

Everett Withers Didn’t Like His Players Last Year


First off, let us say that we sincerely appreciate the contributions Everett Withers made while serving as the head coach of JMU football. He injected some much needed enthusiasm into the program at a time it was needed. But the man seems to have never encountered a bad situation that wasn’t someone else’s fault. Now he implies that the players he inherited at Texas State weren’t good people. Surely that’s the reason the team struggled so badly on the field, right coach?
Look, we’d love to give him the benefit of the doubt here and assume that he just had a mixed up way of saying that he thought the new recruits were a better fit for his vision. That’s not it though. It really was just a dumb statement by a guy who doesn’t really see the big picture. JMU is so much better off with Mike Houston.

Apr 16 / Rob

Lou Rowe Put Together a Good Recruiting Class You Guys


The 2016-2017 JMU basketball season was a disappointment. With one of the most experienced rosters in the CAA, JMU struggled mightily out of conference and then finished 8th in the CAA. However, they won a game in the CAA tournament for the first time in years. Perhaps more importantly, they showed no signs of quitting all season even after it was clear they were out of the running. That’s no small thing in our humble opinion.

To be honest, we were as shocked as anyone when JMU hired Lou Rowe. We loved watching him play and consider him one of our all time favorite Dukes. He lacked any head coaching experience and this past year showed that he’s got room to improve on the Xs and Os side of things. However, like we mentioned, his players never quit and they sure seemed to buy into what he was selling. Unfortunately, those things weren’t consistently true during former coach Matt Brady’s time at the helm.

Rowe’s in game coaching will improve with more game reps. In today’s college basketball game, talent trumps pretty much everything anyway. If Rowe can recruit well and build a positive culture for JMU basketball, the Dukes could finally be a year in and year out contender in the CAA. Fortunately, Rowe seems to be doing both those things. His first full recruiting class has us particularly excited.

Darius Banks is the latest signee for the Dukes. He’s a 6’5″ shooting guard out of St. Petersburg, Florida. He was rated as a 3 star recruit by ESPN and Scout and is ranked the 34th best recruit at his position in the country. Banks signed last week and joined four other recruits who signed in the Fall. Along with Banks, Zach Jacobs, Greg Jones, Matt Lewis, and Dwight Wilson make a very intriguing 5 man class.

Jacobs was the Richmond All-Metro Player of the Year after averaging 21 points and 9 boards as a 6’8″ forward for Trinity Episcopal. Jones joined Jacobs on the Richmond All-Metro First Team. He’s a 6’6″ forward who can bang down low and hit from outside. He averaged 18 and 9 and shot 36% from long range for John Marshall. Matt Lewis is another Virginia recruit. He landed on the Washington Post’s All-Met Third Team. The fact that he played for O’Connell High School is gross (Go PVI!). But we can overlook that now that he’s a Duke. Playing at O’Connell means he played in the WCAC, arguably the top high school hoops league in the country. That’s huge. Lewis played against ACC, Big 10, and Big East recruits all year and managed to score in double figures while running the point. He’s a good get and hopefully he’s a sign that JMU will finally open up a WCAC/DMV recruiting pipeline. And finally Dwight Wilson is another Florida recruit. Listed at 6’8″ and 245 lbs, he averaged 16 points and a ridiculous 17 boards a game as a junior. Those rebounding numbers have us drooling.

JMU took some lumps this past season. That was obvious. But ask anyone who ever played with Rowe or knows him well, and they’ll go on and on about how he’s the perfect guy for JMU. They’ll swear he’s got a clear vision of what he wants the JMU basketball program to be. And that he’s got an undeniable ability to recognize talent and sell recruits on that vision. This recruiting class has us thinking they might be right.

 

Apr 10 / Todd

2017 JMUSB Spring Game Recap

Jordan Brown Returns Interception for TDYou’re darn right we’ve got spring game coverage this year. That’s what another title and a beautiful Saturday in the Valley get you – a legit tailgate and crowd at your spring game. And thankfully for us, our #1 staffer and friend of the pod (just sounds better than friend of JMUSB and maybe saying it will motivate us) Mike Evangelista (@Michael_2Clutch) was kind enough to break it down for us with editorial flair we might add. Huge thank you Michael! Enjoy:

The annual spring game is often a confusing time for the casual spectator: “Who is JMU playing?” “I thought football season is in the fall?” “Didn’t the season end in like November?” For others like us, it’s a teaser for next season’s campaign; a time to be overly critical and read into every inaccurate pass, missed block or tackle. Let’s all admit, nobody predicted the Bryan Schor we saw last spring was going to morph into the best quarterback in the country, capable of orchestrating a game winning drive to take down the Bison at the Fargodome.

Coming off a historic 14-1 campaign that ended with a national championship, the buzz is “real” in Harrisonburg and fans all over the world are certainly drinking the kool-aid; just take a peak in the “JMU Nation” group on Facebook…if you can get in. On a beautiful 65-degree Saturday afternoon, the fans certainly came out in full force; packing Godwin Field to tailgate, to enjoy a picturesque JMU afternoon and more importantly, to support the Dukes.

Here are a few of my thoughts on the game:

  • Elite DefenseMike Houston’s hire of former Richmond Defensive Coordinator / Rocco staffer, Bob Trott, has paid massive dividends for the Dukes. His defense looked fast, physical, sound, and dominant during the spring game. Notably, the defensive line was stout and the safeties filled the run lanes with reckless abandon. The defense had 3 interceptions (D’Angelo Amos, Adam Smith and Jordan Brown), a blocked field goal returned for a TD (Jordan Brown), and 4 sacks from a number of defenders. Moreover, key players like Dimitri Holloway, Darrious Carter, and Raven Greene were all inactive which made the performance even more impressive. Additionally, it was refreshing to see Andrew Ankrah in a true 3-point stance all game rather than in that awkward 2-point stance you’d often catch him in. Coming off the tremendous momentum during the playoffs, Trott’s gang will be even better for 2017 and should be one of the top units in the country.
  • Physicality – While it’s difficult to put much weight on a glorified practice session, the level of physicality and competitiveness was evident. On defense, players like Maryland transfer linebacker Gus Little and senior safety Jordan Brown seemed to be in on every defensive stop and newbies like freshman safety Reggie Collins, freshman defensive end Marcus Hawkins, freshman safety D’Angelo Amos and freshman defensive tackle Rondre Knowles-Tener made their presence known. On offense, the size of sophomore wide receiver Riley Stapleton and freshman Braxton Westfield were difficult to contain on the outside while back-up sophomore tight end Nick Carlton made some noise down the seem versus the linebackers. While outmanned without their starting offensive tackles (Aaron Stinnie and Tyree Chavious), sophomore Mac Patrick looks to be a future all-conference player and sophomore left tackle Jahee Jackson showed potential on the blindside.
  • Bad Special Teams – JMU’s specialists struggled during the afternoon with shanked punts, blocked field goals, and even when the field goals did go in, the procedure wasn’t pretty. All of us held our breath before each kick. In one particular play near the end, Jeremiah McBride finally got his foot on the ball just right resulting in a booming punt; some of us even stood up and gave a nice encouraging golf clap to end the day. The good news is our starting kicker, Tyler Gray, was inactive, we have an Aussie punter coming in that’s supposed to be pretty darn good, and we had John Miller and Jimmy Moreland line up as returners. The JMU special teams unit has a long way to go but has plenty of time to improve under the tutelage of John Bowers.
Can't wait to watch this guy...

Can’t wait to watch this guy…

All in all, it was a successful day for the Dukes. The fan support was outstanding and there was plenty to be excited about. Cole Johnson aka “Baby Giraffe” got banged up a bit but definitely looked the part as the future quarterback of JMU, Georgia Tech transfer Marcus Marshall’s strength and speed will be a difference maker in the fall, and JMU should be even better on the offensive and defensive lines given the returning talent. Last but not least, there were a number of offers given out to a few highly touted recruits and…there may have even been a little rumor of a P5 transfer joining the program in the coming weeks.

Hope you enjoyed this year’s recap and Go Dukes!!!

Notable Prospect Offers:

LB Mateo Jackson, Hermitage HS (VA): 6’2 220, offers include Navy, Army and Richmond

RB Cole Beck, Blacksburg HS (VA): 6’1 185, offers include Western Michigan, Marshall, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Appalachian State, East Carolina, Delaware State, Kentucky Christian and Massachusetts

LB Jamar Darboe, Christchurch School (SC): 6’1 230, offers include Maryland, East Carolina, Liberty, Howard, East Tennessee State

OL Henry Chibueze, Woodbridge High School (VA): 6’2 330, offers include East Carolina, Liberty, North Carolina

RB / FS Rakeem Davis, Charlottesville High School (VA): 5’9 165, younger brother of WR Rashard Davis

but don't forget about this guy!

but don’t forget about this guy!

Apr 6 / Rob

President Alger Brings the Heat

Alger Pitching

There’s a lot going on in this picture. Yeah, it’s everyone’s favorite backwards cowboy hat wearing, Bryan Schor lookalike university president tossing out the ceremonial first pitch, but it’s more than that. We love it. And for so many reasons. The Jim Harbaugh approved sartorial choices. The full extension on the release. The fact that it’s a slow pitch lob before a fast pitch game. (Is that normal?)

But the lesson here is clear folks. If you every get asked to throw out a ceremonial first pitch, be careful. Because even if it’s perfectly executed and far from a Baba Booey or 50 Cent sort of disaster, snarky bloggers with nothing else to write about in the offseason will find slightly awkward still frames and poke fun for no good reason.

Cheers to President Alger for doing this and h/t to @ryanbarto for the pic.

 

Apr 3 / Todd

Softball Rolling, Good Ties Ford, UVa Up Next

We realize there are lots of spring sports doing lots of great things. And we realize the Spring Football Game is coming up this Saturday, but it’s just impossible not to keep talking softball. Over the weekend, not only did they win the series of Charleston with a walk-off comeback, but Megan Good tied her predecessor Jailyn Ford for the program record of 82 wins. Her career record stands at 82-7. Read that last sentence again and tell me how we can talk about anything else right now? And go back and watch the highlights in those links and tell me you wouldn’t love to go catch a game? (Hoping to be in Chapel Hill on the 26th for the last P5 matchups of the regular season). If you’re in or near the ‘Burg, the Dukes host that school from over Afton Mountain that is basically an institutional representation of a boat shoe in a doubleheader in tomorrow!

The team stands at 30-5 on the season and is on the fringe of the top ten nationally. We should note they’ve dropped a game in each CAA series so far and it’s really hard to see them moving into the top eight like last year which would set up another home super-regional. The Dukes also need the offense to kick in with some run support when Good isn’t on the mound to take some pressure off of Freshman #2 Odicci Alexander and the rest of the staff.

Finally, the Duke Club debuted a beautiful piece of nerd-dom at softball over the weekend  with this shirt which we love. Orienteers, geocachers, and old guys unite!

Latitude Longitude Coordinates for JMU "Home of Champions"

Mar 24 / jmusport

Guest Post: Megan Good Is a Machine

good statsBrian Hansen knows way more about softball then we do, so he offered to write a guest post that did JMU’s wonderful softball team justice. We hope you enjoy it. 

Megan Good is incredible. This season, she has pitched in 16 games and given up runs in two of them. Her 145 to 16 strikeout to walk ratio in 104.0 innings shows just how well rounded she is and her 11 shutouts is already a JMU single-season record and conference play hasn’t even started yet. With that in mind, I decided to take a crack at ranking the 10 best pitchers in CAA history to try to help some softball newbies learn more about CAA softball.

Grains of Salt: A couple of pretty big grains of salt with this list. First, while I’ve seen a lot of CAA softball over the years, I worked with and saw the JMU team the most and so I’m a homer and partial to them (in fact, I wanted to make this list a top 11 just so I could put Heather Kiefer on it). Second, I didn’t start watching CAA softball until 2007 and so I don’t have much to go on with the players in the early days of CAA softball. It is almost a certainty I’m a missing someone from that era that is better than I could know. Also, this is a pitching specific list, so offensive impact was not weighed, only the impact of players in the circle. Finally, smart and reasonable people could certainly pick this apart and come up with something that looks completely different, but hopefully you’ll enjoy the list.

 

Honorable Mentions: Becky Anderson (George Mason); Madi Gore (Georgia State); Heather Kiefer (JMU); McCall Langford (Georgia State); Morgan Lashley (Hofstra); Katie Lingmai (Towson); Missy McCormick (Towson)

  1. Jenny Clohan, JMU (2006-09)

Notable Awards: All-CAA, CAA 25th Anniversary Team, CAA Champion

Aside from the top three pitchers on this list, Clohan may have the most impressive season of any of the other pitchers when in 2007 she posted a 1.21 ERA. When her changeup was going, it was as good a pitch as anyone had.

  1. Carolynn Sloat, Delaware (2004-07)

Notable Awards: All-CAA, CAA 25th Anniversary Team

This is one of the players on the list that I never got to see pitch and don’t actually know much about. That being said, she did make the CAA Silver Anniversary team that was voted on by coaches and administrators who saw a lot more CAA softball than I did and I’ll defer to them and add her to the list.

  1. Jessica Wides, Towson (2002-05)

Notable Awards: CAA Pitcher of the Year, 2x All-CAA, CAA 25th Anniversary Team

Another pitcher I never got to see play. She was named to the CAA 25th Anniversary Team and was the conference’s first-ever CAA Pitcher of the Year.

  1. Elizabeth Hyman, Georgia State (2005-06)

Notable Awards: CAA Pitcher of the Year, All-CAA, CAA 25th Anniversary Team

It appears she only played two years in the CAA, but put up some pretty big numbers in those two years. Hyman struck out 260 batters in 2006 and 492 in her CAA career. Led a Georgia State team that became the first to win a CAA regular season crown besides Hofstra and took the Pride to the limit at the 2006 CAA Championship.

  1. Callie Osborne, Hofstra (2004-05)

Notable Awards: 2x CAA Pitcher of the Year, 2x All-CAA, CAA 25th Anniversary Team, 2x CAA Champion

In my opinion, this is where the true cream of the crop starts for the CAA pitchers. I never saw Osborne pitch, but she was the first two-time winner of CAA Pitcher of the year and helped carry a Hofstra team that became the first 7-seed (this was back when NCAA softball regionals went eight teams deep and the winner of each regional advanced to the College World Series) to reach a NCAA regional final. The Pride won four NCAA tournament games in 2004 and two more in 2005. In 2004, she went 12-3 with a 0.79 ERA and limited opposing hitters to a .197 batting average against.

  1. Meredith Felts, JMU (2006-09)

Notable Awards: 3x All-CAA, CAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player, CAA 25th Anniversary team.

Narrowly edges out Callie Osborne for two reasons. First, Osborne only played two season at Hofstra best I can tell and secondly, I actually saw Felts pitch and I have a good feel for just how good she was. The only reason Felts didn’t win a CAA Pitcher of the year or two was Kayleigh Lotti dominating the league for all four years that Felts was at JMU. Felts combined with Jenny Clohan to give the Dukes a really good 1-2 combination in the circle and led them to the 2009 CAA Championship. The combination of Felts’ fastball and Clohan’s changeup mystified lineups for four years there.

  1. Kayleigh Lotti, Hofstra (2006-09)

Notable Awards: 3x CAA Pitcher of the Year, 3x CAA Champion

Threw a lot of innings for a Hofstra team that just owned the CAA during her reign. She won 82 games and the most impressive thing I saw her do was in 2008 when she pitched both ends of a double header in the CAA Championship round. That year, JMU took down the Pride in their first meeting of the double-elimination tournament meaning Hofstra need to beat the Dukes twice on the final day to retain their crown. On that day she threw 18 innings of one-run ball (which came when she gave up a home run to the second batter of the day), including a one-hit shutout in the rubber match to secure the CAA title. She pitched on the brink all day and never blinked.

  1. Megan Good, JMU (2015-pres.)

Notable Awards: All-American, 2x CAA Pitcher of the Year, CAA Rookie of the Year, CAA Champion

This might be a little bit surprising to some, considering the praise I lavished on Good to open this post. That being said, I have to judge Good on an incomplete career whereas the top two on the list have both exhausted their eligibility. As such, Good will probably pass one or both of them in my mind by the end of her career, but she isn’t quite there yet. That being said, Good career numbers are insane: 77-6, 0.83 ERA, 566 strikeouts in 513 innings pitched, a .147 opponent batting average and 27 shutouts. She was fantastic last year against LSU, getting the team as close as you can come to a World Series and has just as good a chance this year of getting the Dukes to the final eight. Considering the top two on this list there isn’t any shame to being listed third. Side note: considering the CAA only started sponsoring softball in 2002 there probably aren’t many conferences outside of the autonomous five that can claim a better top three pitchers all time.

  1. Jailyn Ford, JMU (2013-16)

Notable Awards: All-American, CAA Pitcher of the Year, CAA Rookie of the Year, 2x CAA Champion, National Pro Fastpitch League Draft Pick

I can’t really make a statistical argument for Ford above Good, but I will make my argument by saying no one rose to the challenge of a big game like Jailyn Ford. I also know I said that this list was based on pitching only, but if this was a best player of all-time in the CAA, Ford would be number one, followed closely by Galati, Good and Ashley Burnham. Ford’s curveball is up there amongst the best pitches I’ve seen in the CAA and her leadership (along with Erica Field and Hannah Hayes) is what the current dominance of JMU softball is built on. I couldn’t put her lower than second even though, I think Megan has the better statistical argument. That being said, Ford’s career numbers are pretty impressive as well: 82-21, 1.51 ERA, 815 strikeouts in 706.1 innings pitched and a .180 batting average against. I’m pretty sure we’ll be seeing her name in the JMU Hall of Fame when she becomes eligible and she is every bit deserving.

  1. Olivia Galati, Hofstra (2010-13)

Notable Awards: All-American, 4x CAA Pitcher of the Year, CAA Rookie of the Year, 3x CAA Champion, National Pro Fastpitch League Draft Pick

Galati carried Hofstra to within one game of the World Series in 2012 and she did it with the most complete arsenal of weapons of any pitcher I’ve ever seen. She had command of the strike zone and could get a batter out with a complete variety of pitches. When Lotti graduated Hofstra in 2009, I thought there would be an opening for JMU to grab control of the conference, but that door quickly slammed shut the first time I saw Galati pitch. She was a dominating as any pitcher I’ve seen outside of the all-time greats like Monica Abbot, Angela Tincher, Jennie Finch, Keilani Ricketts … etcs.

So from this list you can probably guess why only one team (2011 Georgia State) has won a CAA softball championship besides Hofstra or JMU. A great pitcher can carry you a long way in softball and Megan Good is currently putting together a Women’s College World Series-worthy season.

 

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!