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.