MASSACHUSETTS 97, HOFSTRA 81
HOFSTRA SEASON RECORDS: 8-2, 1-0 CAA
PLACE IN CAA STANDINGS: tied for 1st
JENKINS SEASON AVERAGES: 19.7 pts, 5.7 reb, 4.5 ast, 3.5 to
Well folks, it's now official. Charles Jenkins is in a shooting slump. Yup, he's gone as suddenly cold as the recent Northeast weather.
The good news for Jenkins and the Pride is that Jenkins' offensive decline has only been over the past 5 halves, and that Hofstra has managed to win 2 of those 3 games.
The lone defeat in that stretch however, on Saturday, up in snowy Massachusetts, wasn't pretty.
Although Jenkins scored 12 points to score in double figures for the 25th straight game and for the 37th time in 39 career games, he was off again, continuing a trend that dates back to the second half of Hofstra's win at Stony Brook on December 10th.
After going 7-for-10 from the field in the first half of Hofstra's win at Stony Brook, Jenkins was shooting 49% (57-117) from the floor, for the season.
Since then, he's shot just 25% (8-32), which has included 0-3 in the second half at Stony Brook, 4-16 in Hofstra's December 13th win against St. Francis, and 4-13 in the Pride's loss today, at UMass. That poor stretch has led to Jenkins' scoring averaging dipping under 20 points per game (at 19.7 ppg) for the first time this season.
Adding to the shooting issues on Sunday were that despite grabbing 6 boards and handing out 4 assists, Jenkins had 7 of the Pride's 19 turnovers. I told you, it wasn't pretty.
In fact, UMass led by as many at 28 (96-68 with 3:24 left) before the Pride closed on a 13-1 run to make the final margin a lot more respectable.
Amazingly, Hofstra lost that badly despite crushing UMass on the boards (61-32) and taking 26 more shots (85 fga to 59).
The loss in itself though, wasn't a terrible thing for Hofstra, since as mentioned in a previous blog, the Pride will likely have only one route to the NCAA tournament this season, and that road likely winds through Richmond (and the CAA tournament) in March.
Although the Minutemen came in just 3-6, this was a tough spot for Hofstra, making the trek through bad weather to play a well-rested UMass team coming off an impressive win in Kansas City over defending champion Kansas (though the then-nationally ranked Jayhawks are younger and aren't championship caliber this season).
However, what was even more alarming than Jenkins' recent shooting troubles is the lack of defense that Hofstra has played and the vast difference in the numbers its allowed when the competition has been ratcheted up.
In 8 games this season against the likes of Western Michigan, East Tennessee State, (D-III) Old Westbury, Manhattan, Fordham, Towson, Stony Brook, and St. Francis, Hofstra allowed just 35% shooting from the field (157-444), including only 30% (49-164) from three-point range.
However, 25th-ranked, 11-0 Clemson (out of the ACC) shot 51% (32-63) from the floor and 53% (9-17) from behind the arc against the Pride; and today, A-10 foe UMass made 53% (31 of 59) of its field goals, while hitting 15 of 26 (58%) from three-point range.
So, where does that leave Jenkins and Hofstra now? Well, all of the overall numbers look nice: the 8-2 record, Jenkins still scoring nearly 20 points per game, and the Pride allowing under 40% shooting from the field in ALL games.
But, that could all be fool's gold if Jenkins doesn't go back to being the consistently good shooter and dangerous scorer that he had been earlier this season, and if Hofstra doesn't step up the defense when the level of its competition is stepped up, especially against upper echelon CAA teams.
Those are things that Jenkins and Hofstra will have to iron out in its final two December non-conference games (against Iona and at New Hampshire) coming up next week, before the "real" season -- CAA play -- starts just after New Year's Day (against Drexel on January 3rd).