"You are never too old to set another goal or to dream another dream."
Game #9-037: Brown at Central Connecticut Blue DevilsNovember 15, 2012 7:30 pm
- C.S. Lewisat CENTRAL CONNECTICUT 86, BROWN 71
NEW BRITAIN, Conn. - For better or for worse, there are more Mike Martins than Howie Dickenmans in Our Game these days.
Martin, who was in just his second game as a head coach Thursday night, took the seemingly newly developed express route to his Division I head coaching gig. He assisted at his alma mater, Brown, but followed Glen Miller to Penn in 2006-07. Five years later, Brown - where he was a four-year starter - needed a head coach, and turned to Martin.
He's 30 years old.
Howie Dickenman took a much longer road to the opposite bench. Upon his graduation from Central Connecticut in 1970, he worked his way through the high school and community college coaching ranks, then at the age of 30 - the same age Martin is now - clawed his way back to the Central coaching staff as an assistant. He went on to Canisius before being given a big break by Dom Perno in 1982 to join the staff at UConn. He stayed for 14 seasons, nine more than Perno did. When Jim Calhoun came on board in 1986, he kept Dickenman, and Dickenman repaid his loyalty by staying a decade.
Finally, nearing the age of 50, Dickenman returned to his alma mater, Central Connecticut to be its head coach. Now 65 (I had to work to find his age, my guess is Dickenman doesn't want rivals using it against him to potential recruits), Dickenman began his 17th season as head man in New Britain last week. He's impressively been to three NCAA Tournaments and recently signed a contract extension through 2015-16, but - especially the way things are trending in college basketball - you wonder if the end might be near.
Dickenman had a veteran team that largely underachieved last season, while both the experts (Central was picked eighth in the NEC preseason poll) and a look at the roster tell you that it might be a struggle to get back to a fourth shot at the Big Dance.
I guess we could blame Shaka Smart and Brad Stevens for their success, but college basketball doesn't seem to be a country for old men anymore, especially below the Red Line where everyone wants to find the next young prospect to lead their program to new heights. You know, the guys who can "relate" to these young recruits, get out and practice with them, be a big brother. Amazingly, Martin is only the fourth-youngest Division I coach this season (Dickenman will see two more of the top five youngest in Bashir Mason of Wagner and Jamion Christian of Mt. St. Mary's twice each, while Robert Morris' Andrew Toole - now in his third season - isn't far behind at 31).
In the end, these schools might be right, younger may be better, but for one night, Dickenman was still the boss at Detrick Gym.
Ironically, it was the youth and energy of his roster that carried the day. Dickenman's best player, sophomore Kyle Vinales, was content to let others do the work in the first half, and Terrell Allen came off the bench to hit a trio of three-pointers that propelled Central to nine-point lead.
Junior Matt Hunter, a former AAU teammate of Vinales that he helped lure to New Britain from Detroit helped the Blue Devils close with a 45-30 lead in a half where Vinales managed only four points.
The advantage was quickly 19 out of the locker room, but Martin made some adjustments and the Bears - thanks to some three-point shooting of their own - threatened to get back into the game, cutting the Central lead to 67-63 with 7:49 left. But Vinales, sensing the danger, was no longer content to be a spectator and went on a mini-run of his own that could make Dickenman look like an awfully good coach for the next couple of seasons.
Vinales scored 10 points in 90 seconds (complete with a Tebow-ing after one of the threes, Dickenman might want him to get back and play defense a little quicker) and the Central lead was back to double figures. Vinales would finish with 28, 24 in the second half, as Central was able to coast to its first victory of the season, Dickenman's 250th at Central Connecticut.
It was the first career loss for Martin (Brown beat Binghamton in their opener). Again, it's going to be a long-term process at Brown, who's been near the bottom of the Ivy League the last couple of seasons and are picked to do so again this year. At one point, Martin got upset at the student manager for not knowing what was a 30-second and full time out (and therefore not bringing out the chairs quickly enough to the huddle in the middle of the court, another trend of the "young" coach). I asked the manager on the way out how the new coach was, and he said, "I'm just a freshman. I didn't know any other coaches."
This night, however, belonged to Dickenman. Maybe age is just a number at CCSU, as Mid-majority favorite Joe Arnone, now 78, began his 51st season as the PA announcer for Central hoops. Two of the first three Brown names out of the box: Longi Yiljep (a sophomore from Nigeria) and Cedric Kuakumensah. He nailed them, of course.
Dickenman isn't quite as animated as he was a decade ago, and his pink shirt stayed amazingly dry throughout this game, but with only one senior on the roster (forward Joe Efese), he might be gearing up for one more run at an NEC title before riding off into the sunset in a couple of years.
It may be a young man's game, even on the sidelines these days, but you're still never too old to dream.
Take that, you whipper snappers.
BROWN 1-1 (0-0) -- S. McGonagill 3-9 2-2 11; M. Sullivan 6-12 4-5 18; R. Maia 6-8 2-3 14; C. Kuakumensah 3-8 3-3 9; T. Halpern 5-12 0-0 15; L. Yiljep 0-2 0-0 0; T. Ponticelli 2-2 0-0 4; J. Sharkey 0-3 0-0 0; J. Schmidt 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-56 11-13 71.
CENTRAL CONNECTICUT 1-2 (0-0) -- K. Vinales 9-13 6-6 28; M. McMillan 1-2 2-2 4; M. Hunter 7-15 2-2 17; A. Burbage 4-6 0-0 11; J. Efese 3-4 0-0 6; T. Allen 5-7 1-1 14; B. Peel 2-3 2-2 6; E. Raleigh 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 31-50 13-13 86.
Three-point goals: BRWN 10-25 (T. Halpern 5-10; M. Sullivan 2-6; S. McGonagill 3-5; J. Sharkey 0-3; L. Yiljep 0-1), CCT 11-19 (T. Allen 3-5; A. Burbage 3-4; K. Vinales 4-5; M. McMillan 0-1; M. Hunter 1-4); Rebounds: BRWN 21 (M. Sullivan 5), CCT 24 (M. McMillan 6); Assists: BRWN 16 (C. Kuakumensah 5), CCT 18 (M. McMillan 7); Total Fouls -- BRWN 13, CCT 12; Fouled Out: BRWN-None; CCT-None.