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 | 48075 views | 0 0 comments | 89 89 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

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Game 15: Hofstra Beats Delaware
by jjwagner
Jan 07, 2009 | 4419 views | 0 0 comments | 100 100 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
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WED 01/07/09

HOFSTRA 66, DELAWARE 61

HOFSTRA SEASON RECORDS: 10-5, 2-2 CAA

PLACE IN CAA STANDINGS: tied for 4th

JENKINS SEASON AVERAGES: 17.3 pts, 4.8 reb, 3.7 ast, 3.6 to

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Hofstra Head Coach Tom Pecora has an expression he's used over the years for his best players when they've been in shooting slumps.

His philosophy is for guys like Charles Jenkins to not let a bad spell deter them. Pecora encourages them to keep shooting as much as possible, until they shoot their way out of a bad streak. He always uses the phrase "Shoot em' up and sleep in the streets."

Well, that was appropriate on Wednesday night at The Mack Sports Complex, because any tape of the shooting of Hofstra and Charles Jenkins should have been left in the gutter for the morning trash pick-up.

SOMEHOW, the Pride ended a two-game slide, evening their CAA record at 2-2, with a 66-61 win over Delaware, in a game that was downright ugly to watch on both sides.

Jenkins got plenty of good looks, but they'd often miss left or right (a technique issue), or other times, short (usually an indication of fatigue and not using one's legs to shoot, though Jenkins told me after the game that he wasn't tired from playing Drexel at home on Saturday, at Northeastern on Monday, and back home against the Blue Hens on Wednesday).

Jenkins was just 3 of 13 from the floor in the first half, and actually shot WORSE than that in the second half, making just 1 of 11, to finish a career-worst 4 of 24 (including 0 of 5 from three-point range) for the game.

He certainly wasn't alone, though. Delaware shot just 31% (18 of 59) and Hofstra only 30% (19 of 64) for the game, as both teams clamped down defensively.

I have to give Jenkins and the Pride credit however, for keeping their composure at the foul line despite the horrid field goal shooting. That's where the game was won, as the Pride shot a season-high 92% (24 of 26) at the free throw line, including a perfect 10-for-10 by Jenkins.

Pecora said "I've never been involved in a game where we shot that well from the foul line and that poorly from the field."

Going into the game, I had a suspicion about Hofstra's lack of ball movement I've seen this season and the rate of offensive success for both Jenkins and his team.

So, I decided to do something I had never done before while watching a basketball game, starting a little experiment.

Counting only front court possessions (not counting possessions in transition), I counted the number of front court passes (after the ball had already crossed the mid-court line) on each of Hofstra's trips up the floor, measuring how many times a positive result (a made shot, drawing a defensive foul, etc.) occurred versus how many times something negative (a missed shot, a turnover, etc.) happened, depending on the amount of front court passes Hofstra made.

I sensed that a lot of the Pride's offensive issues (and Jenkins' more recent struggles after a hot start) this season have had a lot to do with lack of team ball movement and a lack of Hofstra players moving without the ball.

I always believe that you have to make a defense work, make them expend energy and work to guard you, instead of being a stagnant, predictable offense, making it easy for a defense. And, Hofstra, during this recent stretch of poor shooting over the past couple of weeks, has certainly made it easy on opposing defenses by forcing ill-advised and rushed shots after very little ball movement.

My suspicions were proved true against Delaware. Not only were Hofstra's possessions run with less than two front court passes a vast majority of the time, but something positive happened increasingly for the Pride at the offensive end the more they passed ball.

When passing less than twice in the front court: Hofstra had a 25% success rate (10 positive plays out of 41 such instances).

When passing twice: a 36% success rate (5 positive plays in 14 times).

And, when passing more than twice: a 44% success rate (4 positive plays in 9 times).

Of course, when you knock down your shots, you can score after zero passes, and there's no guarantee of avoiding a turnover or bricking a bad shot after ten passes. But, by and large, ball movement, making an opposing defense expend energy all game, will lead to greater success and higher field goal percentages. It's probably no small coincidence that as team ball movement has decreased, Jenkins' personal slump has continued of late.

Jenkins struggles are not from lack of effort, however. After the game, he said "Last night, I was in the gym until about 1 [am]. It's very frustrating for me personally, because I feel I work on my jump shot a lot, but I look at my bench and my coaches tell me to stay confident and keep shooting."

He'll probably come out of it soon. All good shooters and players eventually do. Even consistent .300 hitters in baseball have stretches where they can't buy a hit for a couple of weeks. But, more unselfish TEAM play would go a long way toward helping Hofstra's best player out of his slump, which would also go a long way toward Hofstra's offense improving overall.
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Game 14: Hofstra & Jenkins Humbled At Northeastern
by jjwagner
Jan 06, 2009 | 4552 views | 0 0 comments | 97 97 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
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MON 01/05/09

NORTHEASTERN 73, HOFSTRA 50

HOFSTRA SEASON RECORDS: 9-5, 1-1 CAA

PLACE IN CAA STANDINGS: tied for 7th

JENKINS SEASON AVERAGES: 17.0 pts, 4.8 reb, 3.8 ast, 3.3 to

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Due in large part to a soft early schedule, Hofstra flew out of the gate at 8-1. Since the schedule has been a lot tougher however, the Pride has gone 1-4, and although that's still good for a solid 9-5 overall, lately, it feels more like the opposite, like 5-9, with all of Hofstra's recent offensive problems.

Though the scoring and shooting issues permeate throughout the whole roster, they are typified by the offensive slump of their best player, Charles Jenkins. Yes, Hofstra goes as Jenkins goes.

So, it's no wonder that on a night when Hofstra was held to a season low 50 points, Jenkins had the worst game of his still fairly young career, managing a career-low 3 points on just 1 of 9 shooting. It's also fitting that Jenkins' streak of scoring in double figures was stopped at 28 straight games (dating back to last season) in a game in which Hofstra failed to have a single player score in double figures for the first time in about 15 years. It was also only the 3rd time in 43 career games that Jenkins failed to score at least 10 points.

Head Coach Tom Pecora has said his team has been flat offensively over the past few games. So, how did they respond at Northeastern on Monday night? How about an 11-0 deficit before finally getting on the board 4:29 into the game? That deficit grew to 16-2, before settling at 33-18 at halftime.

If those numbers and facts weren't alarming enough, how about these? Hofstra trailed by as much as 53-26 with 13:18 left in the game after allowing successive backdoor baskets, the second on a power dunk. The Pride shot just 38% (16 of 42) from the field, and dished out just 7 assists (Jenkins only 1), while committing 25 turnovers (6 by Jenkins), 13 of them on steals by the Huskies' defense.

Hofstra's problem starts with Jenkins and the lack of help he's been getting. When he was off to a fast start in the first 8 games of the season, picking up from where he left off last year as the CAA Rookie Of The Year, Jenkins was averaging nearly almost points per game on nearly 50% shooting from the field. Naturally, opposing teams realized (especially as the schedule got tougher) if you stop Jenkins, you stop Hofstra.

Since then, Jenkins has failed to score 20 points over the past 6 games, averaging just over 11 points per game, while shooting under 30% form the floor in that stretch. While other teams have been keying on Hofstra's best player, no one else, except in brief flashes, has consistently stepped up. That's resulted in extra pressure placed on the sophomore captain, and in Jenkins pressing, and falling into a shooting slump.

The problem stems deeper though. It's in an offensive philosophy that has to change if Hofstra will be competitive in the CAA this season. Seeing this season's Hofstra players share the basketball enough or move without the basketball, forcing defenses to really work and expend energy, has been as rare as the Knicks making the playoffs in the past couple of years. It just doesn't happen. There's just too much one-one-one ending in a defense that knows what's coming, forcing Hofstra into a turnover, or resulting in forced, rushed perimeter bricks from the Pride's guards.

Admittedly, I know a lot less X's and O's than Pecora and his staff (we of course knew that -- I'm simply writing, they coach), but if I were part of that staff, I'd be preaching this to every player on the roster right now: Regardless of the game situation or score, anyone who takes a shot in the first 3 or 4 trips up the floor of either half before all 5 guys get touches, even if you're open, gets benched. Instill that rule, and watch how fast valuing possessions, sharing the ball, and assists increase, and how much needless and careless turnovers decrease.

Of course, it would take much more than that to develop the offense that Hofstra needs, and to break Jenkins out of his recent slump. But, what Hofstra's doing lately, simply isn't working. You make everyone touch the ball and feel involved in the offense, and suddenly guys that hadn't stepped up at all before, might, even with small contributions. And, guys that had stepped up some, will step up more. And, what that would do for Jenkins, is take the pressure off of him, and let him return to the player that started his Pride career on pace to be one of the all-time Hofstra greats.

I feel bad for Jenkins. He's in a tough spot as the team's best player, and captain, despite being Hofstra's youngest player, with no freshmen on the team. After the last home game (the loss to Drexel), Jenkins obviously felt bad that he wasn't living up to what he should be providing in terms of team leadership, but it's clear that he accepts that role with open arms, and wants very badly to be the leader that Pecora and his staff want Jenkins to be. However, as I said, it's not all on him. I goes hand in hand. If the overall offensive mindset changes, it will allow other players to make Jenkins better, just as Jenkins leading his teammates will make them better.

On another note, Monday night's loss seems like a benchmark of sorts to me. Long before I started covering Hofstra Basketball, I recall sitting in the stands as a fan, with my father, the day that Hofstra christened the opening of its current home arena 9 years ago last Friday (on 1/2/00), with 74-46 win over Boston University. Back then, it was current NBA player Speedy Claxton, one of the best ever to wear a Hofstra uniform, who led the way. I thought (and still believe) Jenkins could approach that level, and that's one of the key reasons I started this blog after seeing Jenkins burst onto the CAA scene last year, and having higher hopes for the All-American candidate this year. A couple nights after that win over Boston U., Speedy led Hofstra to an 84-45 thrashing over who, ironically?

Northeastern.

Back then, Hofstra owned Northeastern in the America East, and for the for first 6 years after both schools (along with Hofstra's two biggest rivals to this day, former America East teams Drexel and Delaware), made the jump to the CAA, Hofstra had been a more successful basketball program. But, last year, Northeastern finally passed Hofstra, going 9-9 in the CAA while Hofstra was only 8-10 in conference play. The Huskies were the 6 seed in last season's CAA tournament and advanced to the quarterfinals, losing to eventual tournament champion George Mason, while the Pride was one-and-done, digging a huge early hole before falling to 9th-seeded Towson.

Now, after the pummeling that Northeastern gave Hofstra on Monday night, the Huskies are tied with George Mason for first place in the CAA at 3-0, while Hofstra is 1-2, with consecutive conference losses in the span of three days. And, I'm wondering how two programs who came from the same spot, when Hofstra was actually considerably ahead for awhile, are seemingly going in opposite directions. Northeastern has continued to advanced and has now passed Hofstra, while the Pride has regressed.

I have some further commentary regarding recruiting and out of conference scheduling which suggests that Northeastern's program is a measuring stick that maybe Hofstra isn't measuring up to of late, but I'll hold my tongue (or since this is a blog, my fingers) until we see what Hofstra does over the next several games, particularly the next four.

Now is the perfect time for Jenkins and Hofstra to live up to their team nickname, and play like they have some real PRIDE. Because after Delaware pays a Hofstra visit on Wednesday, up next week is a trip to conference favorite VCU, followed by rematches with top rival Drexel and then, guess who? That sudden benchmark again, Northeastern.
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Game 13: Hofstra Drops CAA Home Opener to Drexel
by jjwagner
Jan 04, 2009 | 4561 views | 0 0 comments | 105 105 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Image 1 / 4
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SAT 01/03/09

DREXEL 63, HOFSTRA 56

HOFSTRA SEASON RECORDS: 9-4, 1-1 CAA

PLACE IN CAA STANDINGS: tied for 3rd

JENKINS SEASON AVERAGES: 18.3 pts, 5.2 reb, 4.1 ast, 3.5 to

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A brand new year (Happy 2009, by the way, everyone!), but of late, the same result for the Jenkins and Hofstra, as they lost for the third time on the past four games due to an offense that has yet to find its way on a consistent basis. in its conference home opener, the Pride dropped a tough one to Drexel, its biggest rival going back to the days when both schools played in the northeast-area America East Conference, prior to each joining the Virginia-CAA nearly a decade ago.

Though Hofstra and Jenkins each showed some positive signs shooting the ball in the second half, the first half was brutal to watch. A fellow media member (whose name identity I'll protect) sitting next to me got up from his seat to visit the men's room with just over two minutes left in the half, with Drexel leading 22-16, and said to me "I can't watch any more of this, I'll be back."

Shortly thereafter, one of the referees summed the opening half up perfectly without a word. He didn't need to utter one, since a single look said it all, and it made me laugh, given the source. As I sat at the media table, the ref simply walked right passed me rolled his eyes toward the rafters and shook his head as if to say "What kind of awful basketball did I just have to officiate?"

When the reporter I mentioned above returned as the half started with Drexel up 24-18, I didn't ask if he left to wash his eyes out or maybe to throw up from the ugly ball he witnessed, but those wouldn't have been unreasonable questions.

Drexel held that 6-point lead at the half despite shooting just 30% (9-for-30) form the floor in the first half. Why? because Hofstra turned the ball over 7 times, had only 3 assists, and shot just 24% (7-for-29) in the opening half.

For the first time this season, Jenkins went scoreless in a half (going 0-for-2, including 0-for-1 from three-point range in the first half, playing only 10 minutes after picking up two fouls in the first 5:12 of the game). The second foul was a needless one, with Jenkins going over the back trying to grab an offensive rebound that he had little chance of pulling down. Jenkins had just one real highlight in the first half, when he penetrated nicely from the left wing, stopping at the foul line for a nice dish to Senior guard Greg Johnson, who made an open jumper to pull Hofstra to within 22-16 with 3:35 left in the half.

Jenkins and Head Coach Tom Pecora each recognized that Hofstra lacked intensity on Saturday. Jenkins said, "I thought that we were going to come back, but at the same time, at home, we should never get down. You have to play harder than your opponent every night."

Pecora said the team was "flat offensively," something that has persisted in recent games, as Pecora admitted "We were flat offensively in New Hampshire, and I thought we were flat against Iona."

The second half saw a lot more offensive fluidity from both teams. Drexel shot 46% (11-for-24 form the field, and that included just 1 of 10 from three-point range). The real difference was at the foul line, with Drexel going 16 of 23 compared to Hofstra's 3 of 6 from the charity stripe in the second half.

Drexel capped an 8-2 run to start the second half when Jenkins had his dribble stolen in the front court, and then committed his third foul at the other end, for a three-point play by Drexel's Scott Rodgers (game-high 25 points) to put Hofstra in a 32-20 hole, with 16:23 left in the game.

Jenkins responded though. He shot 5-for 8 in the second half, and finished with 10 points to score in double figures for the 28th straight game dating back to last season.

Jenkins initiated a timeout by the always-animated Drexel Head Coacxh Bruiser Flint when he took a block by teammate Nathaniel Lester (Canarsie), raced up the floor, and finished with a nifty fingeroll to pull the Pride to within 32-24, with 15:08 left.

A possession later, Jenkins made a very nice hanging leaner off the glass, falling to the ground, to slice Drexel's lade to 32-26.

But, going for a tie-up on the defensive end, Jenkins committed an ill-advised fourth foul with a push in the back at the 13:53 mark. Jenkins didn't come back in until over five minutes later, and with Jenkins out, Drexel was on its way to opening its biggest lead of the

game, 47-34, just 1:14 after Jenkins returned to the floor.

After the game, Jenkins commented on his frustration and being able to play only 21 foul-plagued minutes, saying "As a leader, I'm never supposed to sulk on the court. I can't let my teammates see me down. I was just disappointed with how I led my team [today]. I won't let that happen again."

Down the stretch, Jenkins did all he could to keep his team alive. He made a wild, hanging layup, going left, then switching hands in mid-air, going off glass with the right hand for his fifth and sixth points of the game, to get Hofstra to within 47-36.

Later, he assisted on a Cornelius Vines three-pointer; he penetrated into the lane for a nice floater to make it 50-41; he then spun in the lane to his right and finished off the glass, drawing a foul, but missed the free throw, keeping the game, 52-43. But then, after a defensive stop, Jenkins tried to aggressively drive form the left wing, and a border-line call went against him for an offensive foul, fouling him out for the first time this season, with 3:54 left.

Vines kept Hofstra in the game for a while after Jenkins' departure, but 7 late Drexel free throws iced the game.

So, same problems for Jenkins sand Hofstra, overall. But, the second half might be something to draw on with Jenkins shooting 5-for-8 and Hofstra shooting 50% from the field. We'll see if that translates into anything helpful in a tough road CAA contest at Northeastern on Monday night.
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Game 12: Short Skid Ends At New Hampshire
by jjwagner
Dec 27, 2008 | 4410 views | 0 0 comments | 107 107 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
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SAT 12/27/08

HOFSTRA 62, NEW HAMPSHIRE 57

HOFSTRA SEASON RECORDS: 9-3, 1-0 CAA

PLACE IN CAA STANDINGS: tied for 1st

JENKINS SEASON AVERAGES: 19.0 pts, 5.2 reb, 4.3 ast, 3.4 to

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Hofstra Head Coach Tom Pecora was so sick that he had to leave the bench and let his assistant coaches take over for a while late in the first half on Saturday afternoon, as Hofstra paid a visit to former America East rival New Hampshire (3-7).

Chances are, Pecora just had a cold, but "cold" in another sense of the word might go hand-in-hand with the cause of Pecora's illness, after the coach witnessed his team having yet another frigid shooting game, which also saw Charkes Jenkins' recent offensive struggles continue.

After losing to Iona last Tuesday, a less-than-pleased Pecora said he'd make sure his team was focused and ready in New Hampshire.

Initially, it seemed that the message got through. The Pride jumped out to a 17-1 lead, making half of its first 10 shots while UNH missed its first 7 shots.

Jenkins didn't play much of a role in that start, picking up 2 quick fouls in the first 5 minutes, as he went to the bench shooting 0-for-3 from the field.

The Wildcats quickly took advantage, going on a 7-2 run, forcing Pecora to put Jenkins back in. The run became 10-3 before Jenkins hit a spot-up three to put Hofstra back up by double digits, 23-11, with 7:26 left in the half.

But, Jenkins wasn't able to stay out of foul trouble in the first half. After picking up his 3rd foul with 5:01 left in the opening half, he returned to the bench, returning only for Hofstra's final possession of the half, during which he missed a jumper to finish the first half shooting just 1-for-6 from the field, including 0-for-4 from inside the three-point arc). Jenkins didn't commit a foul the rest of the game.

UNH closed the half on a 23-13 run to pull within 30-24 by halftime. That run grew to 39-17, as UNH took its biggest lead, 40-34, with 12:48 left in the game. By that point, Hofstra had missed 9 of its first 10 shots of the second half. Jenkins started the second half committing 2 turnovers and missing his 3 three shots.

On the down side, Jenkins finished the game making just 3 of 15 shots from the field, extending a shooting slump over the past 4 1/2 games to 17-for-63 (29%) from the field. After leading Hosftra in scoring the first 8 games this season, Jenkins failed to do so for the 3rd time in the past 4 games.

Opposing teams of late have been keying on Jenkins, forcing his teammates to beat them, and this game was no different. That's had a lot to do with Jenkins' recent shooting struggles. As a team, Hofstra shot only 35% (18-for-52) from the field.

On the plus side, Jenkins finished with 12 points, scoring in double figures for the 27th straight time and for the 39th time in 41 career games. Despite his problems from the floor, Jenkins' ability to get to the line is what helped turn the game.

Jenkins did most of his damage during a key run late in the game. Down 45-41, Jenkins scored 9 points during a 12-6 run, taking all 6 of his FT attempts in the game during that run, making 5. That put the Pride up 53-51, with 4:57 left.

With 2:31 left, Jenkins assisted on a jumper that put Hofstra up for good, 58-57, before the Pride escaped down the stretch with free throws, ending a two-game losing streak.

That was the best medicine at that point for Coach Pecora.

But he, his staff, and Jenkins must find ways to get Jenkins easier looks and get the overall offense flowing, and they'd better figure that out soon, because conference play in the CAA is up next, on Saturday, when Hofstra hosts long-time rival (going back to the America East days) Drexel.
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Game 11: Iona Hands Hofstra Its First Home Loss
by jjwagner
Dec 23, 2008 | 4536 views | 0 0 comments | 109 109 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
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TUE 12/23/08

IONA 67, HOFSTRA 64

HOFSTRA SEASON RECORDS: 8-3, 1-0 CAA

PLACE IN CAA STANDINGS: tied for 1st

JENKINS SEASON AVERAGES: 19.6 pts, 5.5 reb, 4.5 ast, 3.4 to

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Hofstra Head Coach Tom Pecora wouldn't share what he told his team after tonight's game against Iona, Hofstra's first home loss of the season, and second straight overall, on the heels of and 8-game win streak. The only thing Pecora divulged about that was that he "wasn't pleased" after he joking that how he addressed his team after their performance tonight wouldn't fit well at all with this week's festive holiday theme.

That about sums it up.

I caught this one first hand, courtside at The Mack. This wasn't one to see if you're a fan of sound offense with crisp ball movement and good shooting. Not much of that tonight for Hofstra nor for Jenkins, though Hofstra's young captain did pick it up some to score a game-high 19 points. It was the 7th time in 11 games that Jenkins was the game's top scorer and the 9th time he led Hofstra in scoring this season. He's now scored in double figures in 26 straight games, and in 38 of 40 games for his career.

Would he have preferred to be shut out personally, and not play a hand in a very tough loss however? Definitely.

Jenkins helped the Pride off to a good start, scoring half of his team's points in the first 7:50, hitting a three-pointer right in front of me, from the right corner, to put Hofstra up 14-7. But, he didn't score for the rest of the half, to finish the opening 20 minutes with 7 points on just 2-for-8 shooting from the floor, including 2-for-5 from downtown. Hofstra later matched its biggest lead of the game at 21-14 with 7:49 left in the half, but the Gaels (5-7) closed the half on a 16-6 run to go up 30-27.

Jenkins' first half shooting numbers were a microcosm of his entire team being unwilling to go hard to the hoop in favor of living on the perimeter for most of the game. Through just about the entire game, about half of Hofstra's field goal attempts at any give point, were taken from beyond the three-point arc. The Pride shot 20-for-62 (32%) including 9 of 29 (32%) from three-point range. Jenkins finished 6 of 16 from the floor, including 3 of 7 makes on three-point attempts.

Even more telling of Hofstra's living and dying by the three-point shot was that Jenkins was just 1 of 2 from the free throw line in the opening half, and that those were the ONLY free throw attempts of the entire first half for Hofstra. Pecora took note of his Jenkins and the rest of his team being content to settle for Iona's zone pushing Hofstra, saying "We were passive against the zone. They played a lot harder than us tonight. We didn't have a presence in the paint."

Hofstra improved that in the second half, getting to the line 20 times, making 14. "That's how we got back in the game and eventually took the lead," Pecora noted.

But, it was a lack of defense and a final late Iona run that ultimately did Hofstra in. Pecora said, "We didn't defend the way we had been defending. We had been holding opponents to under 40% from the floor and [Iona] shot 47% from the floor [tonight]."

That was the key tonight. Solid defense and rebounding can mask a lot of offensive deficiencies with ball movement and attacking defenses aggressively. During Hofstra's earlier 8-game winning streak, the Pride won a lot of games in spite of the same type of poor shooting I saw from them tonight. And, with Jenkins bailing his team out late. The difference then was, Hofstra, as Pecora said, caused other teams to misfire, and dominated opponents on the boards. Jenkins nearly came through late again, and Hofstra won the rebounding battle again (this time, 40-33), but the 47% shooting b(21-45) by Iona was too much to hide the same team shooting woes that once again plagued Hofstra tonight.

Another thing that hurt Hofstra was the play of a different Jenkins -- Jermel Jenkins -- a 5-11 freshman guard, who led Iona with 14 points off the bench in 28 minutes, on 6 of 10 shooting from the field, including 2 makes in 3 attempts from three point range.

Hofstra fell behind by as much as six, 48-42, with 10:30 left, but Jenkins finally started to get in the lane as well as hitting a clutch late three-pointer to help Hofstra charge back late. He scored 10 points, including the Pride's last 6 points, during a 22-10 run that gave his team a 64-60 lead with 1:01 left.

Up 64-62 though, Hofstra was unable to get Jenkins the ball, and ended up with a bad left wing three from guard Cornelius Vines that caught nothing but air from the left wing as the shot clock expired.

That set up an unlikely ending, as 7-foot forward Jonathan Huffman, who badly bricked his only other three-point attempt of the game earlier in the second half, nailed a trey from about the same spot with :04.6 left, to put Iona up for good, 65-64.

Jenkins then received an inbounds pass, but lost the dribble out of bounds along the left sideline against Iona's fullcourt press with :03.3 left.

After a Hofstra foul and two Iona free throws with :02.0 left made it 67-64, Gaels, the Pride got the ball in to Vines at center midcourt (with Jenkins in the backcourt on the right side). Vines launched a shot from just inside the midcourt line that hit the backboard before going around the rim and out as time expired on a heartbreaking loss for the Pride.

I mentioned in the previous blog that Jenkins was shooting at a 49% clip by halftime of the Stony Brook game and just has struggled since. Since that point, he's now just 14 of 48 (29%) from the floor.

Pecora believes other teams have been making it a point to take Hofstra's most reliable scorer out of his game. But, he remains confident that Jenkins will soon find his way as long as he can get to the foul line and find other ways to create better looks for himself.

"He's the focal point of every people do, Pecora said. "He's got to find more creative ways and be patient and take good shots. In the course of a season he's going to go through some shooting slumps. All players do, but the great ones figure out ways of getting to spots on the floor where they know they're going to make shots or go to the foul line. If you do that, you get yourself healthy at the foul line making shots. He only took 6 free throws [tonight]. Charles will come around."

Hofstra will have plenty of time to regroup and learn from this loss. Three off days are next before the Pride plays a non-conference game in New Hampshire on Saturday. And, then it's another week off before what I call the "real" season starts, as the Pride will finally get into CAA play hosting Drexel on Saturday, January 3rd.

So, talk to you over the weekend, and until then, Happy Holidays, all!
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Game 10: at Massachusetts
by jjwagner
Dec 21, 2008 | 4356 views | 0 0 comments | 114 114 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
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SAT 12/20/08

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

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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).
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Game 9: vs St. Francis
by jjwagner
Dec 14, 2008 | 4788 views | 0 0 comments | 121 121 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
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SAT 12/13/08

HOFSTRA 68, ST. FRANCIS 52

HOFSTRA SEASON RECORDS: 8-1, 1-0 CAA

PLACE, CAA STANDINGS: tied for 1st

JENKINS SEASON AVERAGES: 20.6 pts, 5.7 reb, 4.6 ast, 3.1 to

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Pointing out his team's ability to win with defense and rebounding this season despite some offensive struggles, Hofstra Head Coach Tom Pecora drew a chuckle from his best player, Charles Jenkins, on Saturday, saying, "Defense you can do on toughness and passion. Eighty percent of that, there's not a whole lot of skill. Offense is much more complex in the concepts of spacing and timing. It's more like learning how to dance, and it takes time for them [Pecora's players] to learn their steps."

A very fitting statement, since improving team shot selection and shooting percentages will likely be among the biggest "steps" that Hofstra will have to take toward reaching its goal of making The Big Dance (the 2009 NCAA Tournament) in March.

Pecora's comments came after the Pride, which has been rolling on the strength of solid defense and rebounding since a season-opening loss to Clemson, overcame yet another poor shooting performance to win its 8th straight game.

Jenkins remains confident that Hofstra's offense will pick up. "I think we're just missing shots," he said. "We're taking good shots. I think as the year progresses, the shots we're missing now are going to fall for us."

Pecora is also optimistic. "It's going to take some [more] time to come together," he said.

Jenkins (named the Metro New York player Of The Week on Monday), unlike most of his teammates, has been normally very reliable from the field this season. Always the mark of a true team leader, he found plenty of ways to contribute and make his teammates better while suffering through a rare poor shooting performance at The Mack on Saturday.

Though Jenkins' shot wasn't falling (he was only 4-16 from the floor including just 1-6 from three-point range), he limited his shots in the second half and got involved in other ways, mixing it up in the paint to grab a career-high-tying 10 rebounds. Handling the ball well for the most part, Jenkins dished out 7 assists of Hofstra's 13 assists, turning the ball over just 3 times (none of which came in the second half).

The Pride led 33-24 at halftime. By then, Jenkins had made just 3 of 11 field goals (only 1 of 5 from behind the arc), but he had 4 rebounds and a team-high 4 assists.

For the first time this season, Jenkins didn't lead Hofstra in scoring, but he made both of his free throw attempts for the game (in the second half) to finish with 11 points and score in double figures for the 24th straight game, the 36th time he's done that in 38 career games.

When asked which number he was more proud of, the 10 rebounds or the 7 assists, he said "Definitely the 7 assists, it's important for me to get my teammates involved. I can't really worry about my shooting percentage because there are other ways I can get my teammates shots on the floor."

A very mature, team-first outlook from the 19-year-old who is Hofstra's clear leader and team captain despite being the youngest player on the team.

Though a major contributor as Hofstra's second-leading scorer last season, Jenkins was a redshirt freshman still learning the ropes on a Hofstra team that was upset by both Stony Brook and St. Francis a year ago. He said the biggest difference for him personally in avenging both of those losses this week, was "Stepping up as a leader. I was surprised," he said, "When the coaches made me a captain, but I know I have to lead this team."

The offensive problems on Saturday were by no means limited to Jenkins. Hofstra, like it's done a lot during its 8-game win streak, won primarily with defense and rebounding. Though the Pride shot only 36% (25-69) for the game, it crushed Brooklyn's Terriers, 57-33, on the glass, and held St. Francis to only 33% (17-51) shooting from the floor.

There were a few moments when Jenkins was particularly impressive, demonstrating great vision and athleticism, in electrifying the home crowd of 3,030. In the opening half, Jenkins assisted on a nice bounce pass to big man Miklos Szabo for a layup that gave Hofstra an early 9-7 lead. Later, he made a beautiful pass ahead to 6-10 forward Greg Washington (one point shy of a third double-double in the past 4 games) who broke ahead and caught it in stride for a layup to tie the game, 14-14. That play triggered a 9-0 run that put Hofstra ahead for good, 23-14.

In the second half, after an awful airball on his only three-point attempt of the half, Jenkins came right back on the next possession to drive and make a no-look pass to Washington (who was named the CAA co-player of the week on Monday) for a three-point play to extend Hofstra's lead to 40-28. One offensive possession later, Jenkins made a great lead pass ahead to guard Tony Dennison for a layup that made it 42-28, and on the next offensive trip, Jenkins somehow acrobatically jumped over and around a crowd of players to follow up a miss and score on a tip-in to put Hofstra up 44-28. The Pride's biggest lead was 63-42, with 4:26 remaining.

St. Francis Head Coach Brian Nash was impressed with Hofstra, saying "I really like their team. They play with good pace, they have good energy, and they're tough kids. I think they're going to be a tough matchup (for other teams) the rest of the year."

After the game, a modest Jenkins commented on the comparisons that are already being made to the other great Hofstra guards which have come before him. Jenkins said, "The comparisons they make are cool, but I really don't think about it now. I'll think about it when I'm gone [from Hofstra] and I get to look back at the stats in the games

that I played, but as of right now, I'm just livin' you know?"

Equally modest, Pecora (123-101 in his 8th season at Hofstra) made light of the nice accomplishment of passing former mentor Jay Wright (now the Head Coach at Villanova) for 4th place on the all-time Hofstra win list on Saturday, joking, "I don't get caught up in all that stuff. I think there's been what, 11 coaches at Hofstra? And, I'm maybe the 11th best."

Jenkins then divulged how he obtained the nickname "Baby Pearl" in honor of fellow Brownsville, Brooklyn native and former Syracuse great, Dwayne "Pearl" Washington, who now, coaches the girls' basketball team at East New York's Jefferson High School. "I used to go back and play in tournaments there [in Brownsville]," he said. "A janitor that used to work at the school we played in, School 275, said he used to watch Pearl play there said I used to remind him of Pearl, so to this day when I go back there, they still call me Baby Pearl."

Discussing how Springfield Gardens prepared him to be the collegiate All-America candidate that he is today, Jenkins said "It was a tough school but it made me tougher in a way. Springfield Gardens was a very supportive school and it helped me come here [to Hofstra] because I had a lot of good people around me. The prinipal, she did a good job talking to me all the time as far as recruiting. She was very experienced because she played basketball as well. I had a good staff around me that made me keep my head on straight instead of falling into the wrong crowd."

Before the game, Hofstra retired Bill Theiben's number 93, unveiling his banner hanging from the rafters prior to tip-off, after a brief ceremony honoring Theiben at center court. Theiben, who played at Hofstra from 1953-56, still holds school records for highest career scoring (26.9 ppg) and rebounding (24.2 rpg) averages, and holds single-game records for both points (48) and rebounds (43). He was also the first Hofstra player to win the Haggerty Award as the top player in the Metropolitan New York area in 1956. After graduation, Thieben was drafted by the Fort Wayne Pistons and played two years in the NBA.

Hofstra next will put it's longest win streak since it won 9 in a row to start the 2004-05 season on the line on Saturday, at UMass, which is only 3-6, but which upset 25th-ranked, defending champion Kansas, in Kansas City, earlier today. Until then, Jenkins and his teammates will have a few days off while taking finals, before Pecora says he'll put his team through a couple of hard practices on Thursday and Friday, prior to taking the trip up to UMass.
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Game 8: Non-Conference Play Resumes, at Stony Brook
by jjwagner
Dec 10, 2008 | 4748 views | 0 0 comments | 124 124 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
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WED 12/10/08

HOFSTRA 61, STONY BROOK 56

HOFSTRA SEASON RECORDS: 7-1, 1-0 CAA

PLACE IN CAA STANDINGS: tied for 1st

JENKINS SEASON AVERAGES: 21.8 pts, 5.1 reb, 4.3 ast, 3.1 to

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Despite a poor second half at Stony Brook, it was a good day and evening for Jenkins and the Pride.

Earlier in the day, ESPN.com featured a short blurb on Jenkins in its "Hidden Gems" section, praising the good starts to the 2008-09 season for both Jenkins and Hofstra. So, nice to see Jenkins and the team he's leading already get some national pub, and it's not even halfway through December yet.

Later, the Pride traveled out east on the Island, to play Stony Brook, which came in 5-3 with 4 straight wins, though against some weak competition.

A Jenkins jumper 2:22 in helped Hofstra start fast, 7-1. The Pride extended that to as much as 14 (30-16) in the first half before the Seawolves (what IS a seawolf, by the way?!) closed to within 37-26 at halftime. Jenkins had a nice half with a team-high 10 points on 5 of 8 shooting to lead Hofstra in shooting 55% (16-29) in the half.

Jenkins scored the first 5 points of the second half on a free throw and a couple of layups to give Hofstra it's biggest lead of the game, 42-26, with 17:51 left in the game.

All looks fine at that point, right? Jenkins and the rest of the Pride, coming off their season-high 90-point explosion at Towson, shooting very well, the offense clicking, big lead. They'll cruise to a 7th straight win, no? Well, Hofstra did win its 7th straight, but it was ugly from this point, forward.

Hofstra's next field goal came 7:50 later, on a layup by Lithuanian forward Arminus Urbutis, to put Hofstra up 49-36, with 10:01 left. The Pride's last field goal of the game was a three-pointer by Cornelius Vines, giving Hofstra a 53-43 lead with 6:34 to go.

That was it. Just those TWO field goals (in 17 attempts) for the Pride in nearly the final 18 minutes, after starting the game shooting 53% (18-34) from the floor. Part of the problem Hofstra not getting the ball to its best offensive player, of course, Jenkins. He was 7-for-10 from the field when Hofstra built its 16-point lead, but after that point, he only took 3 shots from the floot, missing them all.

Though the Pride shot just 18% (4-22) from the field in the second half, Hofstra and Jenkins were able to compensate enough for that by getting to the line (a place where the Pride also struggled, aside from Jenkins). Amazingly, Hofstra took all 27 of its free throws in the second half. Plenty of opportunities to make up for the poor field goal shooting, but plenty of missed opportunities, as the Pride only made 15 of those 27 free throws. Still, Jenkins made 7 of 10 at the line for the game to compliment his 7 of 13 from the field, for a game-high tying 21 points on the night, along with pulling down a season-high 7 rebounds. Hofstra struggled handling the ball though, and Jenkins was part of that. He had 5 of the Pride's 15 turnovers, and he had only 2 assists (only the second time this season that Jenkins had more turnovers than assists), as Hofstra only had 6 assists for the game.

Jenkins' two biggest free throws came with :36 left, to giving Hofstra a little breathing room after Stony Brook closed to within 56-53 in front of a sellout crowd of 1,680 at the intimate Pritchard Gymnasium (where the game was played while Stony Brook renovates its larger on-campus arena in which it usually plays).

The poor finish is a bad sign offensively for Jenkins' team, but not necessarily a bad thing for Coach Pecora, as he will surely use Hofstra's play in the second half to get his players' attention for the next game, at home, on Saturday afternoon, a 4pm tip-off, to be televised on MSG+ Network). And, Pecora, Jenkins, and the rest of the Pride will gladly take the 7-1 start to the season no matter how they got it.

I'll be back at The Mack on Saturday to catch Jenkins and Hofstra as they look to shoot down another local opponent, St. Francis, as the Pride seeks its 8th consecutive win. Talk to you then.
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Game 7: CAA Opener at Towson
by jjwagner
Dec 10, 2008 | 4851 views | 0 0 comments | 130 130 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
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SAT 12/06/08

HOFSTRA 90, TOWSON 79

HOFSTRA SEASON RECORDS: 6-1, 1-0 CAA

PLACE, CAA STANDINGS: tied for 1st

JENKINS SEASON AVERAGES: 21.9 pts, 4.9 reb, 4.6 ast, 2.9 to

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Jenkins' 24 points was a game-high for the 5th time in 7 games this season (he scored a team-high in the other two games), but for the second straight game, Jenkins got a lot of help and Hofstra is starting to come together as a true team, instead of just the Charles Jenkins Show & His Supporting Cast.

What made that such a great sign Hofstra in this game was that this sudden team development came in the Pride's Colonial Athletic Association opener.

After a very solid 6-1 start with 6 straight wins, it's possible Hofstra could be in the mix later on for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament in March, but the more likely route to that tournament will be to get as high a seed as possible for the CAA tournament in Richmond and to try to win that tournament for the first time, and take the CAA's automatic bid to crash The Big Dance.

That's why the signs at Towson (4-4, 0-1 CAA) were great for Jenkins and Hofstra... Jenkins was his usual impressive self, going 7-14 from the floor, 2-4 from three, 8-10 at the line, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 turnovers in 37 minutes. BUT, that was only part of Hofstra's impressive torching of the Towson defense for a season-high 90 points which featured 49% shooting from the field; 80% free-throw shooting (25-31 -- which is unheard of for Coach Pecora's teams over the past few years); a 19:11 assist-to-turnover ratio; and a 49-point first-half explosion in taking a 49-42 lead at the break.

9 different Hofstra players scored including 21 from guard Corenelius Vines, who nailed 6 of 9 from behind the arc; a second straight double-double from the thin 6-10 Greg Washington (after he had never prior had a career double-double); and JUCO big men Dane Johnson (9 pts, 6 reb) and Miklos Szabo (9 pts, 4 reb) chipping in up front (something that Hofstra had lacked until the past two games).

The real tests are yet to come in the new year, when Hofstra will resume conference play in January. But lately, especially in the last two games, the signs have been there that as Jenkins continues to roll, the rest of the team is coming together and providing a lot of contributions that weren't there earlier this season, especially up front. Hofstra closes out 2008 with 5 non-conference games, the next one on Wednesday night, as Jenkins and his Pride look to make it 7 straight wins at Long Island rival, Stony Brook (4-3).
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Game 6: vs Fordham
by jjwagner
Dec 03, 2008 | 5161 views | 0 0 comments | 131 131 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
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WED 12/03/08

HOFSTRA 60, FORDHAM 40

HOFSTRA RECORD: 5-1

JENKINS SEASON AVERAGES: 21.5 pts, 5.0 reb, 4.5 ast, 3.0 to

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I witnessed two teams going in opposite directions on a special night at The Mack, as Jenkins and the Pride won their 5th straight since their season-opening loss, sending winless Fordham to its 6th consecutive loss to start the season (its worst start in its 106 years of playing college basketball).

As I mentioned in the last blog, it would be a night to see Steve Nisenson's number 13 retired before the game, the first ever basketball jersey to hang from the rafters at Hofstra. The pre-game ceremony was a touching one as they introduced the man who (until last season) held the Hofstra career scoring record for 43 years, before his banner was then unveiled in front of 2,680 fans and many others, including 7 of Nisenson's former teammates. It's appropriate that the first syllable of Nisenson's last name is pronounced like the word "nice" since he's easily one of the most gracious and genuine athletes (or former athletes) I ever had the pleasure of interviewing. With all that he accomplished, setting a record that stood for over four decades, in just THREE seasons, and without the benefit of the three-point line when he played, Nisenson said that the greatest thing in his Hofstra career was "the friendships developed through basketball." Nisenson added, "I knew someone would eventually break my record, but no one will take away those friendships, or my family" (Nisenson met his wife through his basketball relationships).

On Jenkins, Nisenson said "I think he's a terrific player. I think he's going to get better as the years go by." And, when I mentioned that Jenkins entered tonight's game on pace (42 points ahead of the current Hofstra scoring record holder Antoine Agudio at the same point Agudio's career) to become the newest Hofstra career scoring leader by the time Jenkins is a senior, Nisenson wished Jenkins luck, warmly smiled, and said "You never know, he could do it, you never know."

On to the game now... Much like Hofstra's only other home game thus far (against Old Westbury), the Pride kept it a game early, having trouble scoring against an inferior opponent in the opening half before pulling away for a blowout win in the second half.

Despite missing 12 straight shots at one point, Fordham hung "Ram tough" in the first 20 minutes, as the Pride needed to close the half on a 7-0 run just to take a slim 27-23 lead by halftime. By that point, Jenkins had faced a lot of box-and-one defense from the Rams which limited him to just four shots from the floor. He made just one of those, and did not get to the free throw line in scoring just 2 points by halftime for the second straight game.

Hofstra Head Coach Tom Pecora thought it was a good test for what's to come later for Jenkins, saying "Charles is going to see more of it as teams will throw everything but the kitchen sink at him and we've got to be prepared for those kinds of things."

Jenkins, the team captain, despite being the youngest player on the team at an age of 19 years and 9 months (Hofstra has no freshmen this season), showed his maturity and leadership, adapting quickly to Fordham's defensive game plan, saying "I was put in a position where they tried to take me out of the game so it was an opportunity for me to get my teammates some shots. It's always good to get my teammates involved." That philosophy led to Jenkins tying his career high of 5 assists by halftime.

As expected, Jenkins picked up his scoring in the second half and the Pride pulled away. But, it was the mix of not only scoring but looking to set up his teammates, that demonstrated Jenkins' growth as as a player and which won the game for Hofstra tonight. The Pride were only up 34-32 with 15:18 left, when Jenkins iginted a 14-0 run over the next 3:39 that put the game away. On the next four Hofstra possessions, Jenkins nailed his only three-pointer of the night; assisted on a three-pointer; assisted on a short jumper on a nice drive to draw the Fordham defense before dishing; and after hitting the floor and getting tangled up under his own basket with a Fordham player, hustled down to the other end of the floor to take a pass in the lane and finish with a beautiful, hanging layup off the glass. Game over at that point, but for good measure, Hofstra then extended the lead with a couple more buckets, to go up 48-32.

Jenkins ended up tying senior three-point specialist Zygis Sestokas (who made three treys tonight) for the team lead with 11 points. But, it was Jenkins' unselfish play, settling for just 11 shots, grabbing 4 rebounds, and handing out a career-high 9 assists, that allowed six other Hofstra players to take between 5 and 8 shots (including bigs Greg Washington, who posted his first career double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, and Miklos Szabo, who contributed 10 points and 8 rebounds).

After the game Pecora gushed about the Jenkins, who the coach considers not only his best player, but his hardest worker.

"We may be a lot of things, but we're not selfish. When your best player is willing to sacrifice like that, that's when you win basketball games," Pecora said.

"He does whatever it takes to win a basketball game," Pecora added, "That's why you gotta love him. He's got a great attitude, he's a great teammate. Tonight, he knows that Fordham's going to do everything they can to stop him, and he goes and gets 9 assists."

Up next for Hofstra is the annual quirk in the schedule which always bugs me. Smack in the middle of playing 11 non-conference games, is the lone conference game, at Colonial Athletic Association foe Towson, on Saturday night. I really wish they'd just play the full non-conference schedule (other than the February ESPN Bracketbuster) before getting into conference play. But, they do it every year with this one early misplaced CAA game. Oh well, not a big deal, just a little scheduling pet peeve of mine. Talk to you guys again over the weekend.
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