Hofstra Star Charles Jenkins' Sophomore Season by jjwagner
Jon Wagner gives a game-by-game inside look at the 2008-09 college basketball season of the former Springfield Gardens High School standout.
Mar 08, 2009 | 51588 views | 0 0 comments | 106 106 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

view as list
Game 25: Jenkins, Hofstra Balance & D Key Big Win
by jjwagner
Feb 10, 2009 | 5348 views | 0 0 comments | 109 109 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
—————————————————————

TUE 02/10/09

HOFSTRA 60, OLD DOMINION 51

HOFSTRA SEASON RECORDS: 16-9, 8-6 CAA

PLACE IN CAA STANDINGS: tied for 6th

JENKINS SEASON AVERAGES: 18.0 pts, 5.0 reb, 3.4 ast, 3.4 to

——————————————————————

This time, it was a little easier for Hofstra.

The Pride’s three previous wins were each decided in the final minute, winning by one point, two points, and three points, respectively.

On Tuesday night, before 2,241 fans, including a loud student section, the Pride led wire to wire, building a 9-point cushion at halftime, before ultimately holding on to win by that same 9-point margin in a showdown between two of four teams fighting for the final first-round bye in the CAA Tournament in March.

It helps when you GET help, and that’s what Hofstra’s best player, Charles Jenkins, is finally getting from his teammates on a more consistent basis lately, as he tries to help make them better in return.

Though Jenkins led Hofstra with 15 points, that output came on just 5 of 15 shooting from the field, including just 1 make in 5 attempts from three-point range.

But, Jenkins also handed out 3 of Hofstra’s 12 assists while pulling down 8 rebounds to help his team to a 48-39 rebounding advantage against the team that’s second only to Hofstra in the CAA in rebounding. That accomplishment was noted by Hofstra Head Coach Tom Pecora, who said, “It was a really well-played game. They're an outstanding rebounding team and we were able to outrebound them by 9 and we had 15 offensive rebounds.”

One of Jenkins’ teammates who came up huge in the rebounding battle, as well as chipping in some scoring was sophomore Nathaniel Lester (Canarsie), who scored 11 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, for his second career double-double, his first this season.

Lester has come on of late, scoring in double figures in five of his past six games.

Pecora was impressed with the hustle of Jenkins and Lester at both ends of the floor.

“Charles made big plays when he needed to,” Pecora said. “Charles once again just does what you need him to do to win games.” He added, "Nathaniel Lester contested a lot of shots."

Another sophomore, Centereach’s 6-10 Greg Washington, chipped in with 4 points, making both of his field goal attempts (after hitting the game-winner in Hofstra’s last game), 8 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots.

Those three sophomores, Jenkins, Lester, and Washington, are what makes Hofstra go these days, but it was the play of Hofstra’s seniors which Pecora felt made the difference against Old Dominion (15-9, 8-6 CAA) tonight.

“I was so pleased that our seniors stepped up and helped contribute. It's nice to see the seniors do it, because I always say, you can only be as good as your seniors. The core of our team are sophomores, the guys who are putting up the biggest numbers, Charles, and Nat, and Greg Washington, for the most part, but our seniors have been tremendous, led by Darren, right here,” Pecora said, flanked by Jenkins, Lester, and senior JUCO forward Darren Townes, who scored a season-high 10 points, while grabbing 7 rebounds, and blocking a game-high 4 shots.

Hofstra’s defense was stifling except for a brief lapse at the start of the second half. “[ODU] came out in the second half and made seven 7 shots in a row (actually 6 of 8), and I was going bonkers in the timeout about that, but we really bared down, down the stretch."

The Pride led 28-19 at halftime, blocked 13 shots, and held Old Dominion to just 28 percent (19-69) shooting from the floor. Two of those blocks came from senior Arminas Urbutis (Lithuania), who scored 7 points and snatched 4 rebounds.

Pecora added of his seniors, “They work their tails off every day in practice, and that speaks in volumes for not only what kinds of players they are but what kinds of people they are.” Pecora was very pleased with his team’s extra exertion, and after sometimes not getting the whistle at home this season, the coach was happy that the game wasn’t called tight. “It was a solid win and I was pleased that it was a team effort,” he said. “We contested every shot and blocked a ton of them, so good stuff. That shows that you're playing with great energy. It was a great crew, they let us play, and that's to our advantage.”



Hofstra’s leading scorer all season, Jenkins was more than happy to let his teammates share the spotlight. “Coach always tells me not be a one-dimensional player,” he said. “There's always things I can do on the court to help my team. Get steals, loose balls, rebound...I don't want to... just worry about scoring... there's other things I can do for my teammates, getting into the lane, creating, getting my teammates open.”

And, that can be mutually beneficial for Jenkins and especially yet another contributing senior, three-point specialist Zygis Sestokas (from Lithuania, like Urbutis), who scored 9 points, making 3 of 6 from behind the arc.

Jenkins joyously spun and pumped his fist near midcourt after leading a break in the first half, stopping at the foul line, and kicking in the right corner to Sestokas, who buried a three-pointer which gave Hofstra an 18-10 lead. Jenkins, who has been spurred on lately by playing for his senior teammates (who he’s close to) as their time at Hofstra is running out, was so happy for Sestokas, that as he got into his defensive crouch, clapped his hands after the fist pump and sported a bright, wide grin the whole time ODU slowly walked the ball up the court.

“Zyggy's my man,” Jenkins said. “When we play open gym, we always run that play every time. I remember last game he struggled a little bit, and for him to hit that first shot it was big and I was excited for him as well as for myself. With him in the game, it takes a lot of pressure off me because if I get in the lane they have to worry if I kick it to him.”

That play occurred one Hofstra possession before Jenkins did a nice job of taking a pass at the foul line coming from the left wing, stopping, and popping for a smooth jumper that gave the Pride its biggest lead of the game, 20-10, with 9:25 left in the half. Hofstra would match that lead with :39.8 left in the game, when it led 59-49 on a pair of free throws by Lester.

With the game still very much in the balance, the value of Jenkins and Sestokas playing off of each other at the offensive end really paid off for Hofstra, when Jenkins made one of the nicest plays of the game, nicely splitting the Monarch’s defense after some help came as Jenkins started a drive. Jenkins was then able to hang in the air and after a double clutch through more traffic, before going off glass to give Hofstra a 51-43 lead with 2:56 left. That was pretty much the dagger as ODU never got closer than six points the rest of the way.

“We ran a cut for a three,” Pecora said of the play. “And, Charles saw an opening and drove down the lane and scored. We put Zyggy in just for that reason. [Zyggy] might not make a three in two weeks but that one [good] game… [can make] teams play up on him. If we put him in a corner and we bring Charles off a ball screen, they don't leave him. That creates some good space for Charles and then [Charles] can make some good decisions.”

The Hofstra coaching staff wasn’t sure Sestokas could even play tonight. Pecora said, “On Sunday, he comes in [to practice] with a 102 temperature, so we just send him back to his dorm room and get some medicine in him, and he comes to practice today and he's in great physical shape, he's always been that way. We were worried that he wasn't going to be able to play but he gutted it out. So, that says a lot about him.”

The win was a big one for the Pride, which moved to within just a half-game of fourth place (and a potential first-round bye) in the CAA Tournament while catching ODU in the standings for sixth place.

As many other coaches might do, Pecora doesn’t shield his team from what games like tonight mean down the stretch. On the contrary, he uses the pressure of big games as a motivational tool. Pecora posts updated standings and particularly for his seniors (and for underclassmen like Jenkins who always want to play hard for the seniors), he lists the numbers of games and practices left in the season.



“Sometimes as a coach,” he said, “You take things for granted and you think that they know things.” He joked, “I didn't know what day it was when I was 20 years old.”

But, he added, “Some people think it's undue pressure, but I think if you're going to compete at this level.... you don't get caught up and fold when you think, hey this is a big game. I want them to know about standings and about how important games are.”

Pecora believes his team is gelling now, and wants his players to share in his belief that they have the ability to achieve a lot more this season. “I tell them, you guys never think that if you win every game the rest of this season, you'll be considered one of the great teams that was here [at Hofstra]," he said.

“I don't think they look at themselves that way yet,” he continued. “I don't want them to think they're great prior to being it, but I want them to understand that it's something we're capable of achieving and working towards. I think tonight, they moved in that direction. Now, the next game's got to be better, and the next one, even more so. February is when good teams rise and hopefully, we continue to play well.”

The remaining conference schedule is very favorable for the Pride. Hofstra controls its own destiny for a five seed in the 12-team CAA, and still has a reasonable chance at that four seed and the first-round bye.

But, Pecora is careful not to let his team overlook anyone else with three of its final four regular season CAA games left against teams that are each well under .500 in the conference. “It doesn't matter who you're playing, especially when you go on the road. “Records go out the window,” he said.

Hofstra’s season was likewise going out the window after a 2-4 start in the CAA. But now, with a little more than a couple of weeks left before Tournament Time, increased balance, solid defense and rebounding, and Jenkins leading the way, could have the Pride finishing February strong and possibly making some noise in March.
comments (0)
view/post comments
no comments yet

Game 24: Jenkins Leads & Gets Help In Key CAA Win
by jjwagner
Feb 07, 2009 | 5376 views | 0 0 comments | 109 109 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
—————————————————————

SAT 02/07/09

HOFSTRA 71, TOWSON 68

HOFSTRA SEASON RECORDS: 15-9, 7-6 CAA

PLACE IN CAA STANDINGS: tied for 7th

JENKINS SEASON AVERAGES: 18.1 pts, 4.8 reb, 3.5 ast, 3.5 to

——————————————————————

Like so many other times this season, Hofstra came out flat and sluggish, this time, with Charles Jenkins looking tentative early, and the Pride trailing a team they beat fairly easily, earlier this season, in what was Hofstra's biggest offensive output of the season. Even in that game though, Hofstra trailed early, 12-2, before they kicked it into gear for a 49-point first half en route to a 90-79 win at Towson on December 6th.

On Saturday, Towson (8-17, 3-10 CAA) again jumped on Hofstra 18-7 nearly halfway through the first half. In fact, it was the third straight time the Tigers started fast against the Pride, as they led 31-13 at halftime of last year's CAA First Round Tournament game, ultimately a Towson win, last March.

That's when Charles Jenkins decided to play like the young captain his coaching staff made him, turning up his game with tenacity, drive, and fire -- a style of play that would eventually rub off on his fellow sophomore teammate, Nathaniel Lester, during a huge second-half stretch with Jenkins on the bench in foul trouble.

Jenkins had only taken two shots, making one in the first 10 minutes, before closing the first half looking like he might challenge the career-high 33 points he posted at UNC-Wilmington on January 28th. After getting a good look on a right-wing three-pointer (with Hofstra down 18-9) but missing long, Jenkins got another good view of a right-wing three coming off a screen, knocking it down, cutting Towson's lead to 20-14 with 7:54 left in the first half. That seemed to get Jenkins going.

The earlier tentativeness shown at times by Jenkins in the beginning of games this season, is seen as both a positive and a negative by Jenkins' Head Coach Tom Pecora. It's finding the right balance that breeds success for a player like Jenkins. Pecora said of Jenkins, "When you're best player is willing to share the ball -- sometimes to a fault, I have to talk to him sometimes about being more selfish -- you have a good chance to win some games."

Jenkins made a jumper 40 seconds later, to pull the Pride to within 20-16, but an 8-0 Towson run gave the Tigers their biggest lead of the game, 28-16, with 5:57 left in the half. Again, that's when Jenkins responded, putting the team on his back, playing with a certain level of passion, almost even anger -- as if to say "Enough! We're not losing this!" -- to a level that I hadn't quite seen before from him this season.

Jenkins showed some great fight inside to gather a loose ball and muscle in a hoop through lots of traffic to stop the 8-0 Towson run, before going strong to the basket for a hoop plus a free throw, for the old-fashioned three-point play. After that drive, and before the free throw, Jenkins showed some great leadership on the floor, grabbing the jerseys of teammates, sophomore Greg Washington and senior Zygis Sestokas. "I told them we have to defend. We're down, we can't trade baskets," Jenkins said.

Jenkins knew the importance of the game, with Hofstra controlling its own destiny for CAA tournament first-round bye in March with a strong regular season finish in February. "Last night, we met up as a team and watched film," he said. "Coach put the standings up on the board and the [latest] scores [of other CAA games], and we

how the league's kind of up and down, and where we stand. The beginning of the year, we were projected as the 7th team [in the conference], but if we play harder, we can easily be one of the top teams in this league. So, hopefully if we can string a few wins together, other teams lose, we can get that fourth spot so we don't have to play that first night."

Playing hard for the seniors as their college careers wind down in the next few weeks has energized the play of Jenkins and his teammates lately. "It's a team effort," Jenkins said. "We have six seniors, and everyone wants to play as hard as they can for them. I talk to Mike Davis[-Saab] a lot and he's been one of the guys that put me under his wing since I got here and I just want to play every game as hard as I can for him because I know this is his last go-around, and this might be the last chance I get to hang out with him as much as I can now."

Davis-Saab is the type of player who has limited ability, and who you will barely notice in the box score, but who Pecora and Jenkins both love as a senior team leader, with his great work ethic, especially in team practices.

"These seniors, it's kind of sad," Jenkins added. "I'm gonna miss these guys, they're like my big brothers. Even though Coach made me captain, I always come to them for advice and they always welcome me with open arms. I just want to play as hard as I can for them so they can go out with a bang."

Further demonstrating maturity beyond his 19 years, Jenkins focused more on the recent home loss to VCU in a team sense, rather than on any personal lessons learned from the CAA's best player, Eric Maynor, outplaying him, or seeing one of Hofstra's best all-time players, Speedy Claxton, having his number retired earlier that day.

After the Towson game, Jenkins simply focused on the lessons learned from the VCU loss, saying, "The only thing that inspired us was losing the game. We live and learn from that. We seemed to make a lot of bad mistakes going towards the end of that game, and the thing that will help us is if we learn from those mistakes."

Jenkins remained very aggressive, on one play, going very hard to the hoop, getting knocked to the ground on a very hard hit, but responding with a pair of free throws.

At one point, Jenkins had 12 points with the next closest Hofstra player having just four. By the half, senior forward Arminas Urbutis, who never before scored in double figures in his career, had 10 points to go along with 6 rebounds, while Jenkins finished the half with a game-high 16 points on 6 of 11 shooting (after a 1-for-3 start), as Hofstra cut Towson's lead of a dozen to just 35-31 at the break. Urbutis didn't score in the second half but grabbed 5 more rebounds after the halftime.

The real story of the game cane in the second half, when sophomore Nathaniel Lester, who starred at Canarsie High School, stepped up after being challenged by Jenkins (whose request turned out to be a foreshadowing). Jenkins called Lester after Hofstra's previous game, a blowout loss at George Mason on Tuesday. Little did they both know that Jenkins would miss much of the second half, and Hofstra would really need someone else to save the night.

That's where Lester, who has finally of late turned into the player Hofstra had been waiting for when they recruited him. Lester had scored in double figures in just 6 of his first 49 college games, including none in the first 19 games this season. But, not only did Lester score in double figures for the 4th time in 5 games, but he scored 19 of a career-high 21 points in the second half, to keep Hofstra in the game, the same way that Jenkins kept the Pride in the game in the first half.

"That's my boy," Jenkins said. "He was a very good player [at Canarsie], I called him the night after we lost [to Mason] and I asked him, 'Can we see the Nathaniel Lester from high school, the one that we were highly recruiting, and see if he can play like that, the way he's capable of playing?' He started laughing but he told me he was going to show me and he proved it [today]. "

Pecora called it "A big breakout game for Nathaniel offensively," adding "I thought Nathaniel Lester did a great job with the post-ups, we ran a few cuts to get him the ball in the post and allow him to power the ball to the rim."

Lester accepted the role well, his 21 points on 7 of 12 shooting second only to Jenkins' game-high 24 points on 7 of 13 shooting and Towson's Junior Hairston's 23 points on 8 of 15 shooting. "I knew when Charles got his fourth foul," Lester said. "I had to pick up the slack, and overall it's just been a sense of urgency that every minute you're on the court, you just gotta play hard, and good things will happen defensively and offensively."

That fourth foul came because of an earlier double technical foul. Jenkins and Towson's David Brewster each got a quick whistle for a double technical foul with 16:29 left in the game. The problem with that call was that in the CAA a technical is also a personal foul, so when Jenkins picked up a foul just :32 later, Pecora was forced to sit his best player (the game's leading scorer with 21 points at that point) with four personal fouls, Hofstra down 43-40, and still 15:57 left in the game. Pecora said it was a "Silly technical, over-zealous on the part of those people who make those decisions."

I asked Pecora if he had thoughts of sitting Jenkins with three fouls and still over 16 minutes left in a close game, to avoid the very thing that happened -- a quick fourth foul quickly thereafter (I would have). But, Pecora said, "I played him in the first half with two [personal fouls], I usually don't do a whole lot of that. You gotta play it out. He's a sophomore, but in minutes, he's a senior, so I trust him to make good decisions. It's like a parent, you know, you trust your kid, and then they don't make [good decisions], it happens to players to sometimes."

I remain a little skeptical that maybe Pecora temporarily forgot the rule that a technical also counts as a personal foul, because he's a smarter coach than to have left Jenkins in with 3 personals and so much time left in a close game, but I'll take the coach at his word about trusting Jenkins to stay on the floor and stay out of further foul trouble at the time.

Pecora was happy to see his team pull through without Jenkins on the floor nearly a 10-minute stretch, as Jenkins only returned for the final 6:21 of the game. “That's all part of the growth process. We're a team, you [sometimes] gotta learn to play without your best player on the floor."

Hofstra saw a glimpse of the future with its local New York talent. In addition to Lester, 6-10 sophomore Greg Washington also contributed with 9 rebounds and 6 points, none bigger than the game-winner in the final minute. A missed tip-in by Urbutis bounced into Washington’s hands. Most of the arena was thinking of holding for one shot with the shot clock turned off, but Washington unexpectedly fired and hit a clutch shot from the left elbow, giving Hofstra a 70-68 with :30.4 left.

Pecora joked, “That was one of those ‘No, no, no! Whoa, great shot, because we could have pulled it out and held for one and run something to end the game. But that was a big-time shot.”

“It was like a mix-up,” Washington said. “We fought for the rebound and I was standing right there, and I was open, so I shot it.” The Pride was then able to make a stop and then Lester sealed the 71-68 win with a free throw in the final second.

With a young core of Jenkins and an ever-improving Lester and Washington, all sophomores, Hofstra could be a very dangerous team by the time that trio becomes seniors, along with the talented Chaz Williams (now playing at Bishop Ford High School), who will be a sophomore, running the point for Hofstra in two years.

For now however, Pecora recognizes that his team is that has one potential but is still searching for consistency. “That’s Hofstra Basketball,” he said after the game. “Pat Riley patented the term ‘three-peat’ and I was going to patent the term "bi-polar basketball" because we can look great for five minutes and we can look bad for five minutes."

Pecora joked about how long it’s been since the Pride shot as well as it did in the second half against Towson, while encouraging his team to pick up the defense in the second half, saying “In the second half, we shot 54 percent. It felt like we shot 90 percent because we've been shooting 29 or 30 [percent] a lot of games. The first half was more of the same. We shoot 30 percent and they shoot 50, so at halftime, I told them, guys, if we defend, we'll be okay."

Although the win was perhaps tougher than it should have been, Pecora makes no apologies, especially with the top two teams in the CAA (Northeastern and VCU) losing to the two teams at the bottom of the conference (William & Mary and UNC-Wilmington, respectively) last week. “This is not like a lot of other leagues,” Pecora said. “There are no games on our calendar that you circle and say, 'Well, we're gonna get one here.' And, it doesn't matter whether it's home or it's away, because it's that competitive of a conference.”

Hofstra must keep that in mind down the stretch even though its schedule is considerably favorable to that of Drexel, Old Dominion (which the Pride play next), and James Madison, as all four teams fight for that the four seed and the highly-valued CAA tournament first-round bye that goes with it.

comments (0)
view/post comments
no comments yet

Game 23: Mason Sends Hofstra 'O' Back To Square One
by jjwagner
Feb 03, 2009 | 5255 views | 0 0 comments | 100 100 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
—————————————————————————-----------------

TUE 02/03/09

GEORGE MASON 78, HOFSTRA 54

HOFSTRA SEASON RECORDS: 14-9, 6-6 CAA

PLACE IN CAA STANDINGS: 7th

JENKINS SEASON AVERAGES: 17.9 pts, 4.9 reb, 3.4 ast, 3.6 to

—————————————————————————-----------------

Well, after having a lot to detail about the last game against VCU, there's not much to say about this one.

It was just simply an old-fashioned whooping.

Been saying it all season:

As Jenkins goes, so goes Hofstra. And, when the team as a whole can't shoot, it can't compete against the better teams the way it can with defense and rebounding

against the lower echelon teams.

Tuesday night's game in Fairfax was yet another example.

Second-place George Mason (16-6, 9-3 CAA) is maybe the toughest place to play in the entire CAA, and that's one of the biggest reasons the Patriots are 6-0 at home this

year (though Hofstra did have some fairly recent success there, winning at George Mason, 68-60 in a nationally televised game on ESPN two years ago).

So, it was imperative for the Pride to get off to a quick start, and yet again, the team came out flat, falling behind 5-0 less than a minute in. That became 10-2, 20-8, and 39-21 by halftime. The deficit grew to 49-24 less than four minutes into the second half, and the rout was on. Mason led by s much as 77-43 with 3:36 to go in the game.

There's cause for concern about Jenkins being off-target again after Jenkins had three great games during Hofstra's recent four-game win streak. Jenkins has since followed that up with a 9-for-38 stretch over the past two games, scoring 22 points against VCU, but on just 5 of 23 shooting from the floor, before following that up 14 points on just 4 of 15 shooting form the field at Mason.

Jenkins and the other two main guards, JUCO transfers Cornelius Vines and Tony Dennison took between 15 and 19 shots apiece, while no other Hofstra player took more than four (and there were only two of those players). Vines shot just 5-for-15 and Dennison was an alarmingly horrid 2-for-19 from the field. As a team, Hofstra shot just 29% (19-for-66) from the floor, including just 4 of 21 from three-point range, while committing more than three times as many turnovers (19) than assists handed out (6).

The Pride must shoot better, move the ball better, and move without the ball better, and it has to start with Jenkins being more consistent. The fact that three guys including Jenkins took 49 of Hofstra's 66 shots, when they were combining for a low percentage, while having such a poor assist-to-turnover ratio, indicates that none of the above took place. More disturbingly, in 11 games this calendar year, this was the 6th Hofstra has been held under 60 points, and the 4th time it was held under the L.I.E. speed limit.

The results don't lie this season:

Hofstra is 8-2 when Jenkins scores 20 points or more and just 6-7 when he's held under 20 points.

I'm not shocked, this was a tough spot for the Pride. The coaching staff should burn the tape, the team should be thankful that the toughest part of the CAA regular

season is over with, and just prime itself for the stretch run, the final third of the CAA regular season to begin at home against Towson on Saturday, with the all-important 4 seed and accompanying first-round bye in the CAA tournament still well within reach. Not a whole lot more to say than that after a game like this, other than: talk to you on Saturday.
comments (0)
view/post comments
no comments yet

Game 22: Maynor Exposes Jenkins' Growing Pains
by jjwagner
Jan 31, 2009 | 5483 views | 0 0 comments | 103 103 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
—————————————————————————

SAT 01/31/09

VCU 66, HOFSTRA 62

HOFSTRA SEASON RECORDS: 14-8, 6-5 CAA

PLACE IN CAA STANDINGS: tied for 5th

JENKINS SEASON AVERAGES: 18.0 pts, 4.9 reb, 3.5 ast, 3.6 to

—————————————————————————

Hofstra's second meeting with VCU was in many ways a humbling education for Charles Jenkins, and in others, a sort of possible crystal (basket) ball toward the future of exactly what the talented, yet still raw, sophomore captain hopes to become.

Before touching on the game itself, let's look at what this day symbolized in Hofstra Basketball history and how Jenkins may some day tie into that...

The day started with an emotional tribute to the man who most regard as the best all-around player (at the very least, the best guard) ever to wear a Hofstra basketball uniform, when Craig "Speedy" Claxton's number 10 was retired prior to tip-off.

I have to say here, I was pretty disappointed in the pre-game ceremony, but I didn't realize it until Speedy had said it at halftime of Saturday's game. He said, "I was hoping for a video tribute." I hadn't thought about it, but he was absolutely right! Hofstra had done it before, for other occasions. And, here's arguably the best player, at least the most popular player, in the history of the program, and no video tribute? No highlight reel showing the many great moments in Speedy's career? Just a simple 4-minute ceremony at halfcourt with Claxton receiving a framed number 10 jersey followed by his number being unveiled from the rafters? I hate to say it, because it was still a good day, but pretty weak for the player that meant so much to Hofstra Basketball.

In any case, after more than a couple decades of wallowing in relative basketball anonymity following the successful late 1970's, Hofstra basketball WAS put back on the map by Claxton, the former Christ The King and Hempstead product, who led Hofstra to its first NCAA tournament berth in 23 years, in 2000. That was Speedy's senior season, the second straight year that he was the America East Player Of The Year, and the first of two seasons that Hofstra Basketball had gained media attention like never before -- sellouts, with the loudest, most packed house you'll ever see or hear at The Mack Sports Complex on Hofstra's campus, in Hempstead; both that senior year for Speedy and the following year, after Speedy's departure, with WFAN's Mike And The Maddog calling the 2000 and 2001 America East championships courtside; scalpers (yes, scalpers, at Hofstra basketball games, if you can believe that!); and delirious fans storming the court (I was one of them), shown celebrating in true March Madness style, live on ESPN, after conference tournament title wins over then-despised rival Delaware, each of those two years. Claxton is currently Hofstra's sixth all-time leading scorer with 2,015 career points, and he still holds Hofstra career records with 660 assists and 288 steals.

So, especially off of those highs, what I'm about to say next, might be misconstrued as Hofstra Basketball blasphemy among Claxton’s fans, and as such, I hope it's not taken the wrong way. In fact, to prove his high level of ability for any player who has worn the Hofstra blue and gold, I'll add the preface that Speedy has the NBA

first-round draft pick status and key role in earning a ring in a decisive NBA Finals Game 6 with the San Antonio Spurs; and has posted fairly decent numbers in a nine-year NBA career thus far, despite missing more games than he's played in, due to a variety of injuries, And, I did write this piece praising Speedy earlier this week, right here at The Queens Ledger Online: (http://queensledger.com/pages/full_story?page_label=news_sports&id=1899670-Athlete-of-the-Week&widget=push&article-Athlete-of-the-Week =&instance=lead_story_left_column&open=&).

But, I always wonder if Speedy might not have accomplished quite as much in the tougher CAA, or if the other recent great Hofstra guards, Loren Stokes, or Hofstra's all-time leading scorer Antoine Agudio, might have accomplished the same as Speedy, had they played in the weaker America East, as Speedy did. Or even, if Jenkins, would be able to, as well. After all, (not that scoring is everything, but) Stokes was also Hofstra's best player in his time, and passed Speedy on the all-time Hofstra scoring list; Agudio has since passed Stokes to become Hofstra's current all-time scoring leader; and Jenkins, already a CAA Rookie Of The Year, has remained on pace in his sophomore season to break Agudio's Hofstra career scoring mark (and that's with a deeper three-point line as of this year).

The point is, they've all passed the torch: from Speedy to Stokes, to Agudio, and now, to Jenkins. But, something has to be said for the level of competition among the last three versus what Speedy faced, while Speedy still remains arguably Hofstra's best player ever. That says something for Jenkins, for both his success that he's already achieved in a still young college career, and for his struggles along the way. Some of those struggles might not have been as evident or as frequent if he were playing in Speedy's old conference. Bottom line, that Speedy type of potential may be there for Jenkins, because against tougher competition, despite some growing pains, Jenkins has already shown similar ability to Speedy in many instances, to possibly make the short list of one of the Hofstra's best players ever, by the time his college career is done; to the point where maybe his number 22 is hanging in The Mack rafters along with Speedy's number 10.

And, that relates directly to what happened against VCU on Saturday, and the CAA's best player, VCU guard Eric Maynor. Just as Jenkins is on track to be a Hofstra great, but still has work to do to attain Speedy's level, Saturday's contest was all about the better, more experienced senior giving an education to similarly skillful, yet not-quite-there-yet sophomore, Jenkins.

Jenkins is right up there, second in scoring in the CAA, right behind Maynor. But, Maynor is simply the senior at that next level, like Speedy, with NBA first-round skills and athleticism, and the type of polished game that Jenkins hopes to possess within the next year or two.

Despite shooting poorly (just 3 of 13 from the field) Jenkins held his own against Maynor in the opening half. Hofstra actually led the game handily, 28-16, after a jumper by Jenkins with 5:25 left in the first half, before VCU closed to within 36-29 at the break. Both Jenkins and Maynor shot poorly from the field (Jenkins: 3-13, Maynor: 2-8), but they each got to the line and were perfect from there (Jenkins: 4-4, Maynor: 7-7). At the half, Maynor, last year's CAA Player Of The Year, and this year's good bet to win another) had outscored Jenkins only 12-11, as the next closest scorer on either side had just 4 points.

In the second half, an exhausted Jenkins, who expended so much energy guarding Maynor that he didn't have his legs offensively in the second half, allowed Maynor to take the game over in the second half. Maynor made 7 of his 10 second-half shots, scoring 21 of his-game 33 points (which was half of VCU's 66 points for the game). Meanwhile, Jenkins was stripped a few times by the quick hands of Maynor, and despite going 10 of 12 at the free throw line on the day to finish with a team-high 22 points, was harassed by Maynor into an abysmal 5-for-23 shooting day.

Jenkins and Hofstra hung in as best they could, but in the end it was simply too much Eric Maynor, who finished just two points shy of his career-best 35 points. That was typified on one particular stretch in the final minutes... with the score tied 58-58, Maynor missed his only free throw of the game (in 13 attempts), but sank the second, to put VCU up for good, 59-58, with 3:26 left in the game; he then stole the ball from Hofstra guard Tony Dennison, and converted a layup to put the Rams up 61-58 with 3:09 remaining. Maynor then blocked a forced Jenkins shot in the lane, picked up the loose ball, went the other way, and milked some clock. Then, with Jenkins draped all over him, and the shotr clock dwindling, Maynor calmly, from about 25 feet, drilled a left-wing three-pointer with Jenkins' hand right in his face. They call Maynor "The Dagger" in Richmond. That shot was the dagger, as it gave the Rams some final breathing room at 64-58 with 1:42 left. Hofstra never got closer than the final 66-62 margin the rest of the way. Although, I will say that the Pride got the ball back with :22 left, down only by that same 66-62 score, still very much alive, and it was very disappointing to see the number of people walking out of the building at that point. That's where if Hofstra isn't winning on a regular basis, the home crowd really doesn't help them, and it's pretty sad. Aside from the student section, the fans at Hofstra basketball games really only stand and make noise when free t-shirts are given away. Such is college basketball on Long Island. Sigh. The crowd could have affected the outcome of this big game in the CAA standings a lot more down the stretch, and then, who knows? Still though, it was about Maynor just putting his team on his back.

Jenkins had a good look with about :17 left but missed a right-wing three. He muscled his way into the lane for a very strong offensive rebound, but missed inside with about :07 left, and that was it.

The loss was a letdown for the Pride, which came in flying with 4 straight CAA wins following a rough 2-4 start in the conference. A fifth straight win (including one over the pre-season conference favorite and two-time defending CAA regular season champion), and a nice 7-4 CAA record would have been very nice, but in the end, it

wasn't meant to be, and the difference was Maynor already demonstrating the type of showing what Jenkins hopes to ultimately do himself. That's not to say that Jenkins hasn't had games like that himself, bailing Hofstra out against other teams over his first two seasons. Just not against the best in the CAA, and not against the caliber of a player like Maynor. Time will tell if Jenkins will get to that point (I think surrounded be the right pieces in his final two years at Hofstra, he can). One of those pieces will be arriving next year, with Bishop Ford's highly ranked point Chaz Williams, coming to Hempstead, freeing up Jenkins to worry less about running an offense, and doing what he does best -- slashing, penetrating, shooting mid-range jumpers, and scoring. Speedy offered to help Williams pick a new number upon William’s arrival at Hofstra, saying "He can't wear number 10 now. I'll help him find a new number, maybe fifty-five or something." Jenkins does that have time -- and talent -- on his side to become one of the best ever at Hofstra and in the CAA. But, this round, on a day when Jenkins could perhaps see the future through both Maynor's game and the honoring of Speedy, the senior teacher Maynor showed the sophomore student what he still has to learn to get there.
comments (0)
view/post comments
no comments yet

Game 21: Jenkins' Career-High 33 Helps Hofstra Escape
by jjwagner
Jan 28, 2009 | 5171 views | 0 0 comments | 107 107 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
—————————————————————————

WED 01/28/09

HOFSTRA 80, NORTH CAROLINA-WILMINGTON 78

HOFSTRA SEASON RECORDS: 14-7, 6-4 CAA

PLACE IN CAA STANDINGS: 5th

JENKINS SEASON AVERAGES: 17.9 pts, 4.8 reb, 3.5 ast, 3.6 to

—————————————————————————

What a difference a couple of weeks can make and what a bizarre yet great (overall) game tonight for Charles Jenkins.

Two weeks ago to the night, things were looking bleak for the Pride. Hofstra was routed at Drexel, it's fourth loss in five games; it was only 2-4 one-third of the way into this season's CAA schedule; and Jenkins was held under 20 points for the 9th straight game, averaging just 12.2 ppg while mired in a bad shooting slump over that stretch.

Since then, Jenkins has averaged 22.8 ppg, scoring 22 or more points in three of the past four games (all Hofstra wins), and the Pride, at 6-4 in the CAA, is suddenly riding a wave of momentum heading into its showdown against pre-season CAA favorite Virginia Commonwealth (15-6, 8-2 CAA) Saturday at noon, on what will be a special day at The Mack Sports Complex in Hempstead.

Jenkins and Hofstra figured to have a big offensive game tonight at North Carolina-Wilmington (5-17, 2-8 CAA), which entered Wednesday night's contest ranked last of 342 teams in Division I, allowing 88.1 ppg. However, although Hofstra leads the CAA as the only team allowing under 40 percent shooting from the field, UNCW came into the game right there with CAA scoring leader VCU (73.3 ppg), averaging 73.2 ppg.

So, other than the Pride not winning the game a little easier than it did, the 80-78 Hofstra win with Jenkins leading the way wasn't a major surprise. How the game got there was interesting, however. It was a good one. Hofstra's biggest lead was only 6, UNCW's only 4, in a game that featured 13 ties and 24 lead changes.

Again, not a shock that Jenkins led all scorers with 16 points on 4 of 9 shooting at the half. But, those points didn't come via the usual Jenkins signature mix of lane penetration and mid-range jumpers. No, instead, it was Jenkins lighting it up from downtown. Entering the game just 31 percent from three-point range, Jenkins made his first four from three-point range before finally missing his final three-point attempt of the game with 4:45 left in the first half. That's a bad sign for Hofstra's future opposing defenses. If Jenkins can ever develop a consistent enough three-point shot to force defenses to play off of him, he'll be that much more lethal with his main strength of driving past and around defenders, and slashing his way to the hoop, something he's already developed very well in less than two seasons of college ball.

Jenkins' first-half output kept the Pride in the game despite allowing a very uncharacteristic 53 percent from the field in the first half, which allowed the Seahawks to hold a slim 41-38 lead at halftime.

Tonight's game made me question just how good Hofstra's defense has really been despite what the numbers have said for most of the season, and despite first-hand, seeing them shut down teams in games this year. Head Coach Tom Pecora said earlier this week, "In the 25 years I’ve been in coaching, I’ve never been around a team that’s been able to win as many games as we have while shooting less than 40 percent. I keep telling them, there’s no pressure, I have faith in you. We’re grinding it out, and if we have to win ugly, so be it.” Pecora's squad IS a pretty good defensive team, but the competition I think, makes the numbers somewhat misleading. Why do I say that? In earlier games against better competition, teams that can really score: Hofstra allowed a season-high 98 points on 51 percent shooting against the Clemson (from the ACC) in the Pride's season opener; and against UMass, from the Atlantic 10, Hofstra was similarly torched for 97 points on 53 percent shooting. And tonight, here's a much worse UNCW team which can still score, and it did the same thing to Hofstra in that opening half.

Hofstra did tighten up the defense in the second half. The Seahawks duplicated the same 5 of 11 from behind the arc that they made in the first half, but they were held to 42 percent shooting overall in the final 20 minutes.

In the second half, Jenkins picked up where he left off before the break, making 4 of his first 5 shots while scoring 10 of Hofstra's first 17 points of the half to keep the Pride close, down 54-52, with 15:45 left.

Jenkins had 26 points at that point, but then missed his next 4 shots from the field, going without a field goal until a key jumper (giving him a career-high 32 points, one more than the 31 he had against East Tennessee State on November 16th) that tied the game at 75-75 with 2:02 left in the game. Jenkins was 4-for-4 at the free throw line in that stretch, the last of those four free throws coming with 12:10 left, giving Hofstra a 58-56 lead.

As I said, a great, yet bizarre, game for Jenkins. After all, how many times do you see the type of game in which a player scores a career-high and a game-high 33 points (the next closest was UNCW's Chad Tomko's 19), scoring a very balanced 16 in one half, 17 on the other, despite going without a point for 10:07 and without a field goal for 13:42 in one half? Imagine the game Jenkins could have had (40 points? 50 points?) had he not had that one long, bad stretch tonight! Strange game indeed for the captain, but it was just enough to keep his team in the game, setting the stage for a thrilling finish.

During hid drought, Jenkins had some help, as he's had during the current 4-game win streak which has seen Hofstra's offense revive itself. Canarsie's Nathaniel Lester, who had 18 points for the game, just two short a career high, did some damage in the second half, and Tony Dennison (10 points) came up big down the stretch.

A Dennison jumper with 1:13 left brought the Pride within 78-77, and Jenkins was able to make only 1 of 2 free throws to tie the game 78-78 with :34.3 left.

Later, UNCW called a timeout and set up a play with :12.2 remaining. Pecora didn't like Hofstra's chances in overtime, so instead of hanging back, he pressured the ball and UNCW's best player, Tomko. That forced a steal by Dennison who drove at the other end and tried to beat the clock. Dennison collided with Tomko (incidental contact, no foul), and ended up on the floor with the ball. With the clock running down, Dennison attempted a shot while sitting in the lane, but left it short. A heads-up Arminas Urbutis, trailing the play, snatched the ball out of mid-air with less than a second to go and made a layup as the final buzzer sounded. Rare ending, rare type of career-high for Jenkins, but a winning formula to keep Hofstra rolling.

A lot tougher than expected against one of the worst teams in the CAA, but maybe the type of win on the heels of three previous wins, with Jenkins back to his old self of late, that could give the Pride the type of sustained momentum it needs for Saturday's big showdown with the Rams, than if Hofstra had won easily over a bad team tonight.

A loss would have taken a lot of wind out of Hofstra's sails. But now, Saturday should be fun day. Two-time defending CAA regular season champion VCU coming in. Early noon start. MSG-TV. Four-game win streak on the line. And, the pre-game honoring of a player whose footsteps might very well be followed by Jenkins -- one of the greatest players in Hofstra history, 9-year NBA veteran and NBA title-winning Craig "Speedy" Claxton, who will have his number 10 retired prior to the game.

===========================

Notes:

Hofstra is 9-1 this season in games decided by 5 points or less.

Hofstra is 8-1 when Jenkins scores 20 points or more, and 6-6 when Jenkins is held under 20 points.
comments (0)
view/post comments
no comments yet

Game 20: Jenkins Leads HU, Beats JMU With :01.9 Left
by jjwagner
Jan 24, 2009 | 5118 views | 0 0 comments | 106 106 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
———————————————————————————————————-

SAT 01/24/09

HOFSTRA 69, JAMES MADISON 68

HOFSTRA SEASON RECORDS: 13-7, 5-4 CAA

PLACE IN CAA STANDINGS: tied for 5th

JENKINS SEASON AVERAGES: 17.1 pts, 4.8 reb, 3.6 ast, 3.6 to

———————————————————————————————————-

Charles Jenkins appears to have returned to his super soph self.

In a game very reminiscent of last season's Colonial Athletic Association contest at James Madison, Hofstra pulled out a dramatic one-point victory over the Dukes in the final seconds.

For the second straight year, Jenkins scored 22 points in Harrisonburg to key a victory. However, unlike a year ago, when Jenkins played the complimentary role to Hofstra's all-time leading scorer, Antoine Agudio, this time, it was Jenkins who scored a game-high and provided the game-winner on Saturday night.

Last year, Hofstra Head Coach Tom Pecora called Jenkins "The Apprentice" as Jenkins learned under Agudio while scoring 15.0 points per game as the CAA Rookie Of The Year. This year, taking on even more of the scoring load, Jenkins is the team's captain, and judging by the endings of Hofstra's last two trips to James Madison, Jenkins seems to have grown nicely into the role once occupied by the player who was once Jenkins' mentor.

On February 16, 2008, Agudio scored the last of his game-high 30 points on a jumper with :09.3 left to give Hofstra an 86-85 win at James Madison.

Similarly on Saturday, it was Jenkins' turn to provide the same type of heroics. With Hofstra down by a point with :12.2 left, Jenkins took the inbounds pass, went the length of the floor, and cut down the left side of the lane. After being cut off, he improvised, spun to his right, into the lane, and put up a tear-drop floater between three JMU defenders. It fell through with :01.9 left, giving Hofstra a 69-68 lead. James Madison then missed a desperation three-pointer at the buzzer, and Hofstra escaped with an impressive road win, tying James Madison (13-8, 5-4 CAA) for 5th place in the CAA, just a game behind fourth-place Drexel (10-8, 6-3 CAA, winners of 5 straight and 8 of 10 including a two-game sweep of Hofstra).

Suddenly, after struggling to a 2-4 record through the first third of the CAA schedule while Jenkins was mired in a shooting slump, the Pride reaches the halfway point of conference play at 5-4, and winners of three straight and 4 of 6, following a previous stretch of 4 losses in 5 games.

It's no coincidence that Jenkins has scored over 20 points in two of the three most recent wins, against two teams that were in the top four in the CAA. Hofstra is now 7-1 this season when Jenkins scores over 20 points, and 6-6 when he's held under that mark. Although others have been stepping up of late, that's how important Hofstra's leader is to its success.

Jenkins, who was too passive at the start of Hoftra's last game (a home win over conference foe William & Mary), came out firing against JMU, taking 11 of Hofstra's 31 first-half shots, making four, to lead Hofstra with 10 points at the break. That kept the Pride in the game, with Hofstra down just 34-30 at halftime, despite shooting just 39 percent from the floor and committing 8 turnovers.

The Pride torched the nets in the second half, shooting 54 percent, while holding JMU to just 36 percent shooting for the game. Jenkins played a big part, making a very efficient 5 of 8 shots from the field in the second half, finishing 9-for-19, while grabbing 6 rebounds, 3 on the offensive glass (so much for remaining too passive).

Hofstra trailed by as many as eight points in the second half (46-38, with 12:06 left in the game), but Jenkins and the Pride showed nice composure playing in one of the more hostile environments in the CAA. Hofstra assistant coach Van Macon said he and others at the Hofstra bench had a lot of trouble hearing all game long amid 5,023 racous fans at the JMU Convocation Center.

Jenkins grabbed a rebound, went coast-to-coast, made a tough layup, drew a foul, and sank a free throw, to put Hofstra up 50-49, with 9:09 remaining. Later, Jenkins scored the next four Hofstra points to keep the Pride ahead, 58-56, with 5:41 left.

Jenkins' teammates, Cornelius Vines (12 points on 4-of-7 three-point shooting), Canarsie High's Nathaniel Lester (11 points, 7 rebounds), and Tony Dennison (9 points) helped Hofstra to a 67-63 lead on a clutch trey by Vines with 1:43 left, but JMU responded with a three-pointer and a pair of free throws to lead 68-67, setting the stage for Jenkins' heroics in the game's final moments.

Time will tell if Jenkins' slump is over for good this season, and if he can lead Hofstra to where it would like to go. As of now though, it certainly appears that the Pride is back on track, with its best player once again leading the way.

Hofstra will begin the second half of its CAA schedule at North Carolina-Wilmington (5-16, 2-7 CAA) on Wednesday, Jan. 28th, before a rematch with the first-place, two-time defending CAA regular season champion VCU Rams (15-5, 8-1 CAA) at home, on Saturday, Jan. 31st.
comments (0)
view/post comments
no comments yet

Game 19: Jenkins Gets Some Help From JUCO Guards
by jjwagner
Jan 21, 2009 | 5806 views | 0 0 comments | 108 108 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
—————————————————————

WED 01/21/09

HOFSTRA 54, WILLIAM & MARY 44

HOFSTRA SEASON RECORDS: 12-7, 4-4 CAA

PLACE IN CAA STANDINGS: tied for 6th

JENKINS SEASON AVERAGES: 16.8 pts, 4.7 reb, 3.7 ast, 3.5 to

——————————————————————

Maybe guys were still tired from staying up late, watching all of the historical Inauguration Day festivities from the night before. Whatever the cause, the first half of Wednesday night's meeting between the Tribe and the Pride was probably historical in its own right, but not for something positive as with the previous day's events in the nation's capital. No, this was a game of note for offensive futility in the opening 20 minutes. Well, actually, no one at the game was able to confirm for me if history was made for the lowest scoring half in the CAA, but I'm pretty sure it was at least the lowest scoring for The Mack Sports Complex (at least the lowest I've ever seen since attending nearly every game in that arena since the day it opened just over 9 years ago), with just 32 total points scored in the opening half.

An an assist from Charles Jenkins helped Greg Johnson make a three-pointer from the left wing to put the Pride up 5-2, 4:53 in. But, after JUCO guard Tony Dennison's free throw gave Hofstra an 8-6 lead with 12:19 left in the half, the Pride went scoreless for the next 9 minutes before Jenkins made a free throw with 3:18 left, igniting a personal 5-0 run that pulled Hofstra within 14-13. Jenkins helped extend the run to 7-0, assisting on forward Greg Washington's jumper with :39.6 left, before William & Mary's Quinn McDowell made a top-of-the-key three in the final seconds of the half, putting the Tribe up 17-15 at halftime.

In the first half, William & Mary shot just 26 percent (6-for-23), committing 8 turnovers; Hofstra committed 9 turnovers and shot only 25 percent (6-for-24).

Hofstra Head Coach Tom Pecora, who had plenty to say in the postgame, thought the team was flat in the first half. "Guys are not playing to their potential," he said. "You can't come in with 15 points in a half no matter who you're playing against. You have to bear down. You have to have pride in the way you play. You can't make a lazy pass, you can't not run through a cut, you can't miss a free throw [you should make]. We were thinking way too much in the first half. You just have to play with your instincts, get the ball to certain spots on the floor, and just make basketball plays, and we did that in the second half."

That was just the first of many comments from Pecora in the 15-minute postgame press conference (they normally last about half that time), who at its conclusion, joked, "That was the longest press conference I've ever done." Mine too, other than when I was a freelance reporter, covering the Patriots' win at Giants Stadium to go 16-0 last season. As usual though, it was worth sticking around for Pecora's insight.

I noticed Jenkins being very tentative in this game, seemingly deferring to teammates. That's fine (Pecora agreed), but he shouldn't go from one extreme (shooting too much) to the other. It's still about finding the right balance this season for the young but talented sophomore, who seemed to be back to his normally aggressive self in Hofstra's last game, a win over Northeastern.

Although Jenkins didn't shoot poorly in the first half (2 for-5), he mostly hung out on the perimeter, and didn't take a shot until he missed an open right-wing three-point 9:25 into the game. During that 5-0 run I mentioned above, Jenkins finally started to be a lot more aggressive, putting his head down, getting to the hoop with assertiveness.

The earlier passiveness by his best player had bothered Pecora. He said of Jenkins, "He was driving me crazy. I told him, 'If you're not going to play, I'll play someone else.' It's crazy. I'm telling him shoot more, drive the ball, make plays."

When I asked Pecora the reason for Jenkins laying back so much, he amusingly responded, "I don't know, I should be sitting on the couch and you should be getting paid $200 an hour." That would be fine with me, but since that isn't going to happen, I stuck with my reporter role and heard Pecora continue, "I don't now, and it's unacceptable, and it's something I gotta talk to him about because by him getting in the lane, he gets [his teammates] shots. And, when shots go up, our forwards get offensive rebounds. It confuses defenses and gets defenses all skewed."

Jenkins got the message from his coach at halftime, scoring 8 points on 2 of 6 shooting in the second half, to finish with 13 points, taking all 6 of those second-half shots in the first 9:30 of the half before leaving after a hard fall on a driving attempt in the lane. The word was that Jenkins stayed out because of a leg cramp suffered on that play. Jenkins didn't return until 3:25 later and didn't attempt a shot in the final 6:05, but he didn't need to that's two Hofstra second and third leading scorers (behind Jenkins), JUCO guards Cornelius Vines and Dennison, putting the game away while Jenkins was out.

First it was Dennison, with Hofstra up 31-29, and Jenkins recovering on the bench. Dennison went on a personal 8-0 run (8 of his 10 points in the game). He crashed the boards hard, just wanting the ball more than everyone, as a 6-3 guard (like Jenkins). That ultimately led to a Dennison three-pointer on that trip. He hit a another trey on the next possession, before making another jumper and assisting on a Greg Johnson jumper, helping Hofstra to a 41-29 lead.

Pecora said Dennison is beginning to play with more of an edge lately, saying "I yelled at [Tony] because he was smiling. I want him to have fun too, but when you're competing, you [should be] smiling on the inside but still growling on the outside. But, he is playing with more of an edge, not as much of an edge as I want him to, but we're a work in progress."

Dennison was happy to fill that role. "I knew somebody had to pick up the slack [with Charles out]," he said. "And, it had to be me or Cornelius."

The pesky, disciplined Tribe then responded with an 8-0 run. "They're a good basketball team," Pecora said. "They're a lot better than 1-7 [in the CAA]. "They're Princeton. I thought we did a good job of bearing down on them, getting stops, and getting out and getting some easy baskets. In the second half, we shot 46 percent because of that."



It was then Vines' turn to be the go-to guy and once again, give Hofstra the separation it needed. After a Jenkins free throw made it 42-37 with 4:44 left, Vines went on an 7-0 run of his own, making a free throw, before hitting a couple of big threes to put Hofstra up 51-37 with 2:40 left, and the Pride were never threatened the rest of the way. Vines scored all 15 of his team-high points after halftime.

After the game, Pecora, sitting at the media postgame conference table flanked by Vines and Dennison, spoke of the importance of Jenkins receiving some help. He said, "I love Charles Jenkins, but it's nice to be here with people other than him. That means we got a little bit more balance. I spoke to Corn about playing with a little more discipline. When he's locked in and gets good looks from three, he extends the floor and extends defenses. "When [he and Dennison] do that, they get Charles off the hook.

"It's been crazy," Pecora added. In the games Charles doesn't score 20, we haven't won. Tonight, we did, because we got balance with Cornelius and Tony."

Actually, Hofstra has won e decent amount of those games, but the point is correct. Hofstra is an impressive 6-1 when Jenkins goes for 20 or more, and just a .500 team (6-6) when Jenkins is held under 20 points.

The win was big for Hofstra. After 2-4 start in the CAA, two straight conference home wins give the Pride a .500 record in the conference, and stay within just a game of the chase for the all-important four seed and final first-round bye awarded in the CAA tournament, in March.

------------------

Pecora continued with more during the postgame conference...

On Dennison's performance, Pecora said:

"That's the Tony Dennison I recruited, when I saw him play at junior college the last two years, down in Florida [at Broward CC]. He was that aggressive, he was making spectacular scoring plays."

On recruiting JUCO guys at Hofstra compared to when Pecora coached as an assistant at UNLV early in his career:

"When we recruit junior college guys, we start tracking them in their freshman year, to make sure they're taking the right classes, so they can be able to get here. When I was at Vegas, a kid could have meatpacking, that was four credits, and that was good by us." Pecora believes it's important to have a certain mix of young talent recruited as freshmen (like Jenkins) and mature upperclassmen via the JUCO route, to win games at times, the way Vines and Dennison did on Wednesday night.

And, on the potential of his team, pushing his players to be their best, and seeing the results pay off, as Pecora witnessed in the second half of the Wednesday night's win:

"We haven't had a game yet where everyone's played their 'A' game. I'm waiting for it, and when it happens, we're going to be able to beat anybody."

"All you want as a coach, as a teacher, is for guys to reach their potential. It's the same as when I was teaching high school, and you have a kid who's smart as a whip and he's just getting C's, because he's just going through the motions. The kid who busts his ass to get a C, you're very proud of. But, we don't have any 'C' players on this team, we have all guys who should be playing at a higher level [than that] and that's the most frustrating thing for me as a coach, is to see guys with potential, [not meeting it]."

"If you don't push yourself out of your comfort zone to be a great athlete, you're never going to be a great one. I can't coach effort all the time. They have to take ownership. The expression we use all the time is 'Get out of yourself and get into your team.' And, they aren't selfish guys, but at 18, 19, 20, 21, who wasn't [selfish] by nature?"

"They came out in the second half and played the way I thought they were capable of playing."
comments (0)
view/post comments
no comments yet

Game 18: Jenkins Keys Upset Of 1st-Place Northeastern
by jjwagner
Jan 17, 2009 | 5267 views | 0 0 comments | 106 106 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
—————————————————————

SAT 01/17/09

HOFSTRA 57, NORTHEASTERN 52

HOFSTRA SEASON RECORDS: 11-7, 3-4 CAA

PLACE IN CAA STANDINGS: tied for 6th

JENKINS SEASON AVERAGES: 17.1 pts, 4.9 reb, 3.6 ast, 3.4 to

——————————————————————

I must admit, on a late Saturday morning at Hofstra, with first-place Northeastern visiting 12 days after dismantling Hofstra up in Boston, the thing I was looking forward to most was the media room food of scrambled eggs and french toast (not that I don't appreciate the lunch or dinner spreads, but breakfast really makes me love the early noon starts!).

Much to my surprise however, the real treats of the day were witnessing the improved play of the Hofstra offense and that of Mr. Charles Jenkins returning to form.

Unlike the many poor starts Hofstra in many of its losses this season, the Pride came out of the gate fast against Northeastern (11-6, 6-1 CAA), which set the tone for handing the Huskies, who entered the game tied for first-place in the CAA with George Mason) their first conference loss of the season.

With the offense struggling of late, I suggested a change in offensive philosophy on the Hofstra section of the popular CAA message board CAAZone.com earlier this week. I figured that with no guards (not even Jenkins) shooting more than 37% from the floor on the season, and with many of the bigs shooting respectable percentages in the 40's and 50's, maybe it was time (at least in the short-term) to have the guards getting the ball into the big fellas, and getting forwards like Greg Washington, and in particular, Darren Townes and Arminas Urbutis, more touches and more shots (while still paying attention to a lot more ball movement, in general).



Townes (who started and played 28 minutes) got Hofstra off to a fast start, and Urbutis (8 points, 9 rebounds in 31 minutes off the bench) barely missed his first career double-double. After a fast break layup by Jenkins put Hofstra up 3-0, Townes was active early in the post and on the offensive glass, getting his hands on loose balls, making a tough layup, and slamming home a dunk to help the Pride to an 11-6 lead (a tremendous departure from the 11-0 and 16-2 leads that the Huskies had on the Pride when the two teams met on January 5th).

A coincidence with what I mentioned in those CAA Zone posts, the ball moved early and often for Hofstra like I hadn't seen all season. I counted dare I say, 7, even 8, passes on some possessions, usually leading to good things on the offensive end of the floor.

Hofstra Head Coach Tom Pecora joked, "There was one stretch in the second half where we made two jumpers in a row, and I got this tingly feeling all over my body. It was like, wow, when was the last time THAT happened?"

It was clear that Pecora had little patience for guys jacking up ill-advised shots without adhering to the new-found team effort of increasing ball movement. Case in point: Cornelius Vines, Hofstra's second-leading scorer (often the Pride's biggest culprit of shooting first and passing second this season), usually a starter, came off the bench this time, and played only 9 minutes. Why only 9 minutes? Because Pecora yanked him for the rest of the game with 4:00 left in the first half, immediately after Vines dribbled way too much under pressure, looked for no one, and hoisted an off-balance, contested three-pointer from about 25 feet away, leading to a Hofstra turnover, with the Pride down 19-18. Needless to say, those that stayed in the game for Hofstra, continued to move the ball well after that.

Jenkins meanwhile, again struggled to find his shot in the first half. After the early layup, he missed 6 of 8 shots to finish with 7 points on just 3 of 9 form the floor (1 of 2 from three-point range) in the first half. Jenkins and the Hofstra defense also struggled to defend Matt Janning, the sharp-shooting 6-4 guard from Minnesota, one of the best scorers in the CAA, as Janning was 3-for-7 in the first half, but 3-for-4 from behind the arc, scoring 12 points to lead Northeastern to a 29-26 lead by halftime.

That changed in the second half though, as Jenkins really clamped down on Janning, holding him to just two second-half points on 0-for-4 shooting from the field.

Jenkins said that shutting down Janning "Was very important. Matt Janning's a very good basketball player. He was a [CAA] Rookie Of The Year his freshman year. He was picked first-team all-conference. I think it was big for me to be able to defend him."

On the offensive end, Jenkins was finally back to his old self, scoring over 20 points for the first time since the game before he started his shooting slump (when he scored 21 points at Stony Brook). He scored 16 of his game-high 23 points (more than half of Hofstra's 31 second-half points), making 5 of 7 from the field after halftime, to finish 50% (8 of 16) from the floor. That was the first time since that Stony Brook game that Jenkins looked like the old Jenkins on the floor.

Jenkins really changed the game during a big 12-1 run in the second half, which turned 32-28 deficit into Hofstra's biggest lead of the game, 40-33, with 11:46 left. He scored 9 points during the run, laying it in all alone on a fast break, scoring on a nice drive in the paint, hitting a big right-wing three, and capping the run with another slashing, driving layup.

After the game, I asked Jenkins if his performance might signal an end to his slump. He said at least mentally, the approach was different. "Coach did a great job of getting [the ball] to me," he said. "I was sulking and that's something that he doesn't want me to do. So, instead of being the nice coach that I've known, he got into me. It's all mental. I play my game [best] from the neck up."

Credit Pecora for changing his own way of dealing with his best player. "Charles' Dad stopped by practice the other day," he said. "And, I told him I was gonna go after [Charles], and [Charles' Dad] said 'Have at him Coach, you go after him as hard as you want.' That's old school. Not a lot of parents say that anymore. And, [Charles] responded. Obviously, we're a different team with Charles scoring the basketball... when Charles is very aggressive, and I want him to be. "

Pecora acknowledged the change in the offensive mindset, saying "We got away from setting so many ball screens. I wanted to get a little more ball movement and we were able to do that. So much of that is dictated by the way your opponent defends you."

That's true to an extent. I think you should and can move the ball no matter what type of defense is thrown at you (unless it's a press -- that's of course a different brand of ball movement).

But, just the conscious effort move the ball and make the offense less stagnant than it had been paid huge dividends. Although Hofstra still scored only 57 points (about as low as it had in losing some games recently), the Pride shot a much better 42% (18 for 43) after living at around only 30% in some recent games. And, the 57 points were despite not making a field goal in the final 6:40 of the game, as the Pride made 11 of 12 free throws during that span, to ice the game. Jenkins' two free throws with :45.6 left put Hofstra up for good, 52-51. Then, up 55-52, Jenkins' smothering defense forced Janning into a turnover in the right corner. Jenkins pumped his fist a couple times in jubilation, knowing the game was won. He then made two more free throws in the final seconds, for the final margin of 57-52.

Guard Tony Dennison (9 points, 2-2 fg, 4-6 ft in 20 minutes) was the the player besides Jenkins sitting next to Pecora at post-game press conference table. In speaking of Dennison and the rest of the team, Pecora commented on what a great group he coaches, but knows that he can't coddle them. "Tony Dennision is too nice a kid." he said. "I want my son to grow up just like him. Maybe not as many tatoos on his arms. I don't mind if he has them from the elbow up. I want him to play with an edge on the court. I want to try to get him to be not such a nice guy on the basketball court. They're all great guys, so I want to be nice to them, but at the same time, if I'm nice to them, they're going to play like nice guys and then they don't play with an edge."

The win was a tremendous one for the Pride, and the perfect time for Jenkins to return to normal. Facing a possible 5th CAA loss in 6 games and a 2-5 CAA record, Hofstra instead not only sends a message to the rest of the CAA by beating a first-place conference team that it had already lost badly to, but it positions itself very well to get back to .500 in the CAA, and compete in the second half of the CAA season for an all-important top four seed and a first-round bye in the CAA tournament in March.

I'll be back at The Mack for Hofstra's next game, on Wednesday, when The Pride hosts the Tribe (I like how that rhymes). William & Mary (6-11, 1-6 CAA) will come to Long Island tied for last in the CAA.
comments (0)
view/post comments
no comments yet

Game 17: Hofstra Routed At Drexel
by jjwagner
Jan 14, 2009 | 5059 views | 0 0 comments | 96 96 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
———————————————————————————————————-

WED 01/14/09

DREXEL 70, HOFSTRA 52

HOFSTRA SEASON RECORDS: 10-7, 2-4 CAA

PLACE IN CAA STANDINGS: tied for 7th

JENKINS SEASON AVERAGES: 16.7 pts, 5.1 reb, 3.7 ast, 3.5 to

———————————————————————————————————-

It was the same old story of late for Jenkins and Hofstra. In fact, this one was nearly an identical type of game, with nearly the same final score as Hofstra's last road trip to a current CAA and former America East rival (when the Pride got throttled up at Northeastern).

Drexel led from the opening possession to the final buzzer. A 5-0 hole became a deficit of 18-6, and Drexel was never seriously challenged thereafter, as Hofstra shot 30% from the floor.

This was a site where Jenkins had one of his finest all-around games as a freshman last season, helping the Pride to a nice win, when Hofstra's all-time leading scorer, Antoine Agudio, was held to just 6 points, with great attention paid to him by the Dragons' defense.

This time, with the graduated Agudio gone, it was Jenkins' turn to be keyed on by Drexel's defense. Although Jenkins did a good job with 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and just 1 turnover, he couldn't get in the flow of the offense with Drexel hanging on him.

Jenkins had an assist to help Hofstra pull within 18-8, but the Dragons then extended that lead to 26-9, before Jenkins even took his first shot of the game, a fast break layup that made it 26-11, with 8:37 left in the half. Jenkins only took two more shots in the first half (both misses), as he picked up his third foul with 4:31 to go before halftime. Drexel went up 34-14 before settling for a 36-22 lead at the break.

The Pride were able to pull within 10 early in the second half, but the lead ballooned back to 20. Again, Hofstra mounted a comeback, with a Jenkins jumper trimming Drexel's lead to 11 with 8:37 left (ironically, Jenkins' first field goal of the game came with 8:37 left in the first half, and his last field goal of the game came with 8:37 left in the second half).

But, Jenkins would foul out with 4:29 left (finishing with just 10 points on 3 of 10 shooting) and the deficit went back up to 20 before Drexel closed it out by 18.

It was the fourth loss in five games for Hofstra, and the third loss in that stretch that Hofstra was held in the 50's.

Hofstra announcers on the school's radio station (WRHU) commented on the continued lack of ball movement by the Pride and on Jenkins in particular, that Jenkins seemed to be "holding himself back" and deferring too much to others.

Jenkins' 9-game slump (after 8 good games to start the season) is not from a lack of effort. Before the game, Head Coach Tom Pecora, thinking Jenkins was working TOO hard, said “I told Jenkins I didn’t want to see him in the gym for three days. “He’s been working so hard. He’s been in the gym two hours every night. His hard work is keeping him in his slump.”

Working LESS, not MORE, not get out of a slump. Hmmm, sounds strange, but maybe that will do the trick. The way it's gone lately for Jenkins and the Pride, why not try it?

Having missed a shot at redemption for an earlier loss to Drexel this season, Hofstra will get it's next shot at revenge when it looks to reverse the aforementioned bad loss to Northeastern, in an early start, Saturday at noon, at The Mack Sports Complex, in Hempstead.
comments (0)
view/post comments
no comments yet

Game 16: VCU Too Much For Hofstra
by jjwagner
Jan 10, 2009 | 5426 views | 0 0 comments | 109 109 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
———————————————————————————————————-

SAT 01/10/09

VCU 68, HOFSTRA 60

HOFSTRA SEASON RECORDS: 10-6, 2-3 CAA

PLACE IN CAA STANDINGS: tied for 5th

JENKINS SEASON AVERAGES: 17.1 pts, 5.0 reb, 3.8 ast, 3.7 to

———————————————————————————————————-

So, I've been on this ball movement theme the past couple of games.

Once again, in a tough spot, playing at VCU, which is seeking its third straight CAA regular season title, Hofstra 's offense flowed considerably better when moving the basketball over keeping the dribble too long and forcing up bad shots after only a single pass.

Since I only cover Hofstra home games, I tried the same experiment I attempted at the last home game I attended, while watching on SNY on Saturday.

Sure enough, passing the ball contributed directly to Jenkins returning to form and Hofstra hanging with this year's conference favorite for a good while, and the lack of ball movement later on, was as big a reason as any that the Rams pulled away from the Pride during a key second-half run.

In 32 half-court possessions, Hofstra passed the ball more than I had seen in a few weeks, passing more than twice on 11 trips. That resulted in Jenkins shooting a very solid 4-for-8 from the field, and Hofstra staying closing to VCU throughout the first half.

During one possession in the first half, the SNY announcers commented on Hofstra's "excellent ball movement" and "unselfish play" after 5 consecutive passes led to a foul-line jumper by point guard Greg Johnson.

Later, in the waning moments of the first half, Johnson passed on the right wing to Jenkins, who threw a bounce pass into big man Miklos Szabo on the right blocks, who kicked it back out to an open Jenkins for a right-wing three-pointer that gave Hofstra 25-24 lead.

In contrast, the next two possessions?

Johnson - dribble, dribble, dribble some more: turnover.

Johnson - dribble, dribble, dribble some more, just 1 pass: turnover.

Conversely, Hofstra's final possession of the first half:

5 passes led to a dunk by power forward Dane Johnson for a 27-26 lead.

In the second half, it was the same story with regard to ball movement and offensive success for Jenkins and the rest of his team. Passing decreased for most of the second half, and Jenkins went just 1-for-8 after halftime, finishing with a team-high 15 points on 5 of 16 shooting from the floor, despite trying to move the ball himself with 5 assists (2 in the first half, 3 in the second).

Hofstra made more than two passes on 3 of the first 6 trips in the second half. They failed to knock down jumpers, but they got better looks.

However, the Pride stopped passing on the next 13 possessions, staying in the game with defense.

Finally, they scored on three consecutive trips (passing 3, 4, and 3 times respectively) to stay within 44-40.

After that? Right back to selfish team play: guard Cornelius Vines forced a travel after no passes; after just one pass, Dane "Black Hole" Johnson (I give him that nickname because once the ball goes into him in the post it almost never comes back out no matter how much defensive duress he's under) took a pass in the blocks and traveled after being doubled and not kicking it out; and Jenkins after only one pass, forced a tough drive that ended with a blocked shot and VCU gaining possession; Vines also missed a three-pointer after a single pass on the next trip.

All of that occurred during a decisive 8-0 VCU run that extended a once very close game to a 52-40 Rams' lead. Hofstra failed to make more than two passes on any one trip the rest of the way.

All in all, an 8-point road loss to the consensus pick to win the conference isn't a bad thing, provided Hofstra can get payback for earlier losses against Drexel and Northeastern coming up next.

But, to accomplish that and more later in the season, Jenkins (who came out looking smooth at VCU, hitting his first three shots, all jumpers) and Hofstra need to get their offense cranking, and that should start with moving the ball a lot more than they have.
comments (0)
view/post comments
no comments yet

page 1 ..
3 .. 4