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Date Posted: 11:33:37 11/02/05 Wed
Author: J.J.
Subject: NEC MBB Team Preview - Central Connecticut State

One lesson that the ten other teams in the NEC have learned the last two years: never count out Central Connecticut State. In 2003-04, the Blue Devils struggled through the majority of the regular season before winning seven of their last ten games to nab the #7 seed in the NEC Tournament and ignite a playoff run that saw Howie Dickenmanís charges reach the title game. Fast forward to 2004-05. Needing a win over Quinnipiac on the final day of regular season play to qualify for the postseason for the seventh straight year, CCSU played one of its most inspired games of the season to enter the league tourney as the #8 seed. Competing at top-seeded Monmouth in the quarterfinals, the Blue Devils took a 14-point edge at the break and held the lead the entire second half until a last-second layup gave the Hawks a one-point victory and prevented CCSU from becoming the first #8 seed to knock off a #1 seed in NEC Tournament history. Entering 2005-06 with ten returning letterwinners, the Blue Devils will field one of the leagueís more experienced units. Dickenman, now in his 10th year as head coach of his alma mater, is expecting junior Obie Nwadike to lead the teamís resurgence this season. Nwadike is the ultimate workhorse on the floor, a player who epitomizes the toughness Dickenman instills in his players. Though measuring just 6-4, the chiseled 224 lb. power forward is one of the most relentless rebounders and tireless workers in recent NEC annals. Despite battling injuries last season, Nwadike averaged 11.2 ppg, shot a team-high 55.2 percent from the floor and for the second straight season led the loop in offensive rebounding (3.5/game) and ranked fourth overall (7.5 rpg). Dickenman has a number of options in his stocked backcourt, with seniors Lenny Jefferson and Justin Chiera, along with sophomore Tristan Blackwood and junior Javier Mojica, all dividing time, frequently in a three-guard alignment. Jeffersonís confidence swelled last season as he emerged as a take charge player late in games. Physically stronger than most guards, Jefferson lifted his scoring average to 10.2 ppg while hitting 35 trifectas and shooting 40.2 percent from three-point territory, his second straight year cracking 40 percent from long distance. Chiera (7.0 ppg) is one of the NECís best at curling off a screen, taking a pass and going straight up with a three-point shot. He hit 50 from downtown in 2003-04 and has upped his career total to 177, second among active NEC players. Blackwood (5.2 ppg), a fleet-footed point guard, quickly established a reputation as a good positional defender, and was the Blue Devilsí top distributor with 3.5 apg. Mojica is a former walk-on who firmly entrenched himself in the CCSU rotation with his ability to swing between guard and forward. A crafty offensive player with three-point range, the 6-3 Mojica contributed 9.9 ppg and was the teamís second-leading rebounder with 4.5 rpg. In the frontcourt, Jason Hickenbottom started 14 games as a freshman, showed a world of athletic potential and was particularly active on the boards. With a similar size and build to Nwadike, Hickenbottom shot 50.6 percent from the floor, and averaged 4.4 ppg and 3.8 rpg. Also vying for spots in the frontcourt this season will be 6-7 junior Jemino Sobers, 6-11 sophomore Ingo Beaudet and 7-3 redshirt freshman Jermaine Middleton, who sat out the 2004-05 campaign and will be the second tallest player in NEC history when he suits up. Dickenman snapped up two players in the offseason, signing 6-2 guard John Williams and 6-6 forward Chris Winters. Williams is a San Jose native who played prep ball at Marianapolis in Connecticut, while Winters hails from the Constitution state and prepped locally at St. Thomas More a year ago.

CCSU By The Numbers

Quick Facts
2004-05 Overall Record: 12-16
2004-05 NEC Record/Finish: 8-10/8th
NEC Tournament Finish: Lost in QF
Starters Returning/Lost: 3/2
Letterwinners Returning/Lost: 10/4
2004-05 Final RPI: 253
Games Decided By 5 or Less: 2-7

NEC Record
Last Two Years: 17-19 (.472)
Last Three Years 29-25 (.537)
Last Four Years: 48-26 (.649)
Last Five Years: 59-35 (.628)

Overall Record
Last Two Years: 26-30 (.464)
Last Three Years 41-43 (.488)
Last Four Years: 68-48 (.586)
Last Five Years: 82-62 (.569)

Leading Returning Scorers
Obie Nwadike: 11.2 ppg
Lenny Jefferson: 10.2 ppg
Javier Mojica: 9.9 ppg

Leading Returning Rebounders
Obie Nwadike: 7.5 rpg
Javier Mojica: 4.5 rpg
Jason Hickenbottom: 3.8 rpg

Leading Returning Assists
Tristan Blackwood: 3.5 apg
Lenny Jefferson: 2.2 apg
Justin Chiera: 1.9 apg

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Replies:

[> Re: NEC MBB Team Preview - Central Connecticut State -- LarryL9797, 12:42:40 11/02/05 Wed

Does anyone know how the inside game will be this year? Strong / Weak? And how are Jerminos Shin Splints doing? That inside game has been a huge ? for a few years now.


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