Conference/Record: CAA (20-14, 11-7).
Location: The cultural crossroads that is Harrisonburg, Virginia. Two hours from Northern Virginia, an hour from bucolic Charlottesville, and two hours from Virginia Tech.
Famous Alums/Attendees: Steve “Dagger” Buckhantz went there. Lindsay Czarniak, a rising star at ESPN, went there. (One of my four claims to fame is that I had a class with her – something movie-related, I believe.) Gary Clark, one of the best receivers in Redskins history, attended JMU. Charles Haley, a fearsome defensive end, attended JMU. Oddly, I am not listed under “alumni” on the JMU wikipedia page. Obviously, some sort oversight that surely will be rectified soon.
Social Media: For good linkage, @Dukes_BBall.
Random Fun Fact: One of my first memories of JMU is the annual Forrest Hills Block party. Complete and utter debauchery in one neighborhood. (Years after I left, cops tried to clean it up, students fought back … it got ugly.) At any rate, we’re tearing through the neighborhood raising hell and just roll into one townhouse. It’s quiet, we walk around, and there are three girls crying on the sofa. Princess Diana had just died, and the girls were crushed. Devastated. For some reason, I remember this. Also: I, um, heard this story about a kid with a good fake ID who went to this bar, JMs (once, I watched a friend attempt to urinate in a garbage can near the bar and get roughed up by some bouncers, then arrested), and afterward was loitering in a parking lot drinking a beer out of solo cup. This person saw a cop sitting in his car about 50 yards away and quickly put his beer down. The cop saw this person, too. The cop sped up, turned his lights on, and swooped in. The cop asked for ID. The kid said, “here” and foolishly gave the cop his fake ID. As the cop is fingering the fake ID, a light breeze hit this person in the face and he realized, “wow, that was really dumb of me.” Amazingly, the cop didn’t notice the fake, and handed it back to the kid.
Tournament History/Most Recent: 1994. I was still in high school. A fellow by the name of Kent Culuko – his sister is a legend in her own right – hit this three-pointer in the CAA title game to propel Lefty and the Dukes to the Tourney. In the years that followed, JMU used to always struggle with Richmond and VCU … fortunately, both are out of the conference. The stars aligned this year – Drexel was down, and so was George Mason, another rival.
Good Wins/Bad Losses: Playing the 294th toughest schedule in the country … yeah. JMU went 0-3 against the Top 100, losing to UCLA by 30, North Dakota State by 22 and Richmond by one. I’m guessing here, but nobody in the field had more losses to teams above 150 in the RPI (10).
Notable Player(s): The Dukes are a unique team that plays seven guys 20 minutes a game, and all of the players are between 6-foot-4 and 6-foot-6. They’re long and love to run-and-jump. It’s almost like the Dukes took a page out of the VCU playbook when recruiting last year. Three of the seven players are freshman; four are seniors. Rawshawn Goins (6-6, a doughy 265) is their leading scorer (12.7 ppg) and rebounder (7.1 ppg). Four players attempt two or more 3-pointers a game, and their best gunner is Devon Moore (11.6 ppg, 39 percent 3′s), followed by AJ Davis (12.1 ppg, 37 percent 3′s). My favorite player on the team is a bouncy freshman, Andre Nation, a 6-foot-5 guard who leads the team in blocks (1.2 ppg). I expect him to break out next year and be one of the top players in the conference. Sadly, that could mean he transfers to a “high major” in hopes of playing professionally one day.
All-Important Rankings: RPI (183), Ken Pom (177), SevenOvertimes (224).
Outlook/Seed: I joked they were a dangerous 14 seed. In reality, they’ll probably be a 16, and will be an 18-point underdog against Duke or Indiana. Best chance to cover a first round game? My guess would be Louisville, simply because the Cardinal have the weakest offense of the potential #1 seeds. If JMU can sneak onto the 15 line, I think it could hang with Kansas for about 30 minutes.
March Madness 2013: Florida Gulf Coast is in the NCAA Tournament
March Madness 2013: Harvard is in the NCAA Tournament
March Madness 2013: Belmont Bruins are in the NCAA Tournament
March Madness 2013: Liberty Flames are in the NCAA Tournament