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Date Posted: 10:18:21 05/03/04 Mon
Author: inside
Subject: great article

Interest sparked by CCSU signing

By JEREMY DOMINICK , Assistant Sports Editor 05/03/2004

NEW BRITAIN -- CCSU created a buzz in March when the Blue Devils menís basketball team made a run to the Northeast Conference championship game as a seven seed. CCSU lost to Monmouth in the title game, but the excitement radiated through the teamís fans and university community.

Last week, a different buzz began encircling the Blue Devilsí program with the signing of 7-foot-3 Jermaine Middleton, who is, along with Keith Closs, the tallest player in the schoolís history.

"Iíll tell you what, (the signing) has created quite an interest in the program," CCSU head coach Howie Dickenman said.

Within a couple of days of Middletonís signing, several fans approached Dickenman to ask about CCSUís newest player. While Dickenman said he enjoys the excitement Middleton has already brought to CCSU, he also knows there is still a lot of work to do.

"Heís not polished," Dickenman said about Middleton. "We have to do the polishing. But he says all the right things. He says he wants discipline. He says he wants to learn. He says he wants to spend the extra time (developing his game). And from what Iíve been told about him as a person, heís very sincere."

Middletonís offensive game includes a sky hook, which Dickenman said is good out to around 10 feet.

"Heís pretty intelligent and he has a decent touch," Dickenman said. "He needs to run a little better."

One of the reasons Middleton picked CCSU is Dickenman told him he would not spend his first season in New Britain as a redshirt. He is going to spend some time at CCSU over the summer, taking classes and working out.

"I told him that was his redshirt year," Dickenman said of the summer session.

Middleton will be put into the type of weight program freshman Jemino Sobers utilized this past season. At 6-foot-7, Sobers weighed 218 pounds at the beginning of the school year. Dickenman said he is now up to 253 pounds. Middleton, who is listed at 230 pounds, could also benefit from a similar weight gain.

"He hasnít been in a structured weight program," Dickenman said. "We are very fortunate to have (strength and conditioning coach) Mike Erickson at Central Connecticut. I think heís one of the best in the business."

Dickenman does not foresee Middleton immediately dominating the Northeast Conference from day one or filling the void left by the graduation of All-America Honorable Mention Ron Robinson. But the buzz word for CCSUís latest buzz generator is "upside."

"Heís got a lot of upside," said Dickenman. "When one of my assistants first saw Jemino Sobers, he said he has upside. The same for (Middleton). I told him he could play two minutes or he could play 32 minutes. It all depends on him. He said he wants to devote the time to get better and improve."

All the excitement surrounding Middleton, Dickenman said, also needs to come with patience.

"Itís tough being that tall," Dickenman said. "If youíre that tall, everyone assumes youíre a basketball player and if youíre not a good basketball player, you can develop a complex. Itís exciting to have him come to our program, but we as a coaching staff are also preaching patience."

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[> Re: great article -- Central21M, 15:25:49 05/03/04 Mon

Nice site you guys have here. I was shocked to read that Sobers gained that much weight, maybe he can develop into a real force next year. He definitely has the athleticism to do so. He is a big time athelete. Next season appears to depend on whether Middleton or Sobers will develope into a good starter. This team cannot depend solely on Nwadike and Pittman for rebounding. If Middleton can simply rebound and block a few shots, even if he doesnt score at all, it would mean a great deal to this team. A Junior College forward with some size appears to be an ideal guy to sign this summer. I know this is hard to find, but they definitely need a forward who could step in and start right away. If nobody develops into a good forward or we dont sign another player, I don't see us even coming close to approaching the championship game next year. We will be way too weak in the frontcourt. This team doesnt even have a solid swingman who can rebound, like a ricardo scott. The loss of Robinson is simply too much. The only strength I see in this team is that we are deep with guard play, but you cannot win with just guards, no matter how many you have. More than Id like to admit, this upcoming season looks very shaky unless a big man steps up.

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