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Brady Goes Ham(s)

November 7, 2011

James Madison basketball coach Matt Brady made his first appearance of the new season Monday at Ham’s restaurant, for what will be a weekly press conference.

Here are the key talking points.

Once a Duke, Never a Duke: James Millen transferred to JMU from Cincinnati State Community College before last season but was deemed academically ineligible to play in 2010-11. To play this year, he needed to apply for a waiver through the NCAA to expand his eligibility clock to six years. The Dukes found out Friday that Millen’s waiver was denied, meaning Millen will have played zero games in his two years at Madison.

BRADY on MILLEN: “James Millen, who’s as good as anyone on my team I think, he’s as good as anybody in that gym on any given day,” Brady said. “He’s a really good player, he’s a great kid. He’s one of my favorite players I’ve ever coached. So he’s heartbroken, we’re heartbroken for him. It really hurts us. Had he been eligible, we could have talked of redshirting maybe another guy.

“It’s one of those things, when you deal with the NCAA, we’ve been the beneficiary in a couple different instances with Gene [Swindle] and Humpty [Hitchens] where it worked to our favor [both players were granted immediate eligibility after transferring to JMU]. This time it didn’t work to our favor. As badly as I feel for our program because I think he’s a significant player in this league. He can guard anybody and he can score on anybody in this league, I feel worse for James because I think he has a chance to be a very good college basketball player.”

Brady said Millen is still focused on earning his degree and might become a student assistant for the team, which would keep him on the practice court.

Still Rolling in the Deep: JMU’s rotation consisted of seven regulars last season, while an eighth guy would get maybe 10-15 minutes per game. Brady expects, at least at this point in the season, that the rotation will be larger this season.

BRADY on HIS ROTATION:It’s eight for sure. When Devon [Moore] comes back it’s nine. I don’t know that it will get longer than nine. We have to figure these freshmen out. Certainly two of them are deep in the rotation. Arman Marks and Enoch Hood are both guys that can make shots. They make shots, they make plays, they’re athletic as heck. They just care about helping the team win. They’re really good players. Keynan [Pittman] – we could be sitting here in three years, he could be the best of all of them. … They don’t have to produce and we could be really good. That’s the difference between now and a couple of years ago.”

Redshirt Rumblings: Asked if any of the Dukes would redshirt this season, Brady was coy at first, but began to reveal some of his intentions as more questions came his way.

BRADY on REDSHIRTING: “I think for their benefit, it might be great to redshirt [the freshmen]. We’re still trying to build a program, we’re still trying to get to the very top of this league, so you have to balance that with the best interest of our team right now.”

Is Pittman the likeliest redshirt among the freshmen. And could junior Alioune Diouf possibly sit out this year?

“We would consider both. If another one of the freshmen got hurt for a month, I would gladly sit one of them down if I thought Devon was coming back.”

“Alioune, we’ve taken steps to safeguard his eligibility for an additional year. Keynan, we haven’t had to make that decision yet, but that comes now. I haven’t had that conversation with Keynan, that will probably happen tomorrow.”

Starting at Center : Juniors Trevon Flores and Gene Swindle (a Virginia Tech transfer) will battle for the starting center position, and the race is coming down to the final week.

BRADY on HIS CENTERS: “[Swindle is] a good player. We really like him. And he’s a different player. He’s a physical, low-post guy who can rebound, who’s got some scoring ability, who has some great intangibles, who just wants to do whatever he can to win. He’s a lot different than the guy we had there last year [Denzel Bowles]. He’s not as good of a scorer but he brings a lot to the table that will not show up in the stat sheet.

“Trevon has made a jump. He understands that he is needed to be a big part of this team, and he’s playing with a little bit more energy than he did last year and that’s a good thing. We don’t need either guy to be all-league players, we just need them to be energetic, role players for us. And if they’re energetic role players, then we’ll be pretty good.

Who starts?

“You know what it’s probably going to come down to? Who practiced well the last couple days. I think that’s the way it should be and for the first time since I’ve been here, that’s probably the way it’s gonna go. They’re different players. Trevon is certainly more perimeter-oriented. Gene is a guy that feels very comfortable scoring the ball with his back to the basket and has more ability with his back to the basket than Tevon. But they’re both long, long guys who can guard. My intention when I got here was always to be long and tall in the frontcourt, and we are. … We’ll be able to guard the fives and the fours in this league, without a lot of help.”

What’s Goins On: As of Monday morning, power forward Rayshawn Goins still hadn’t practiced this year after suffering a right ankle sprain. His injury may have set him back in the conditioning department, which has Brady taking a new approach.

BRADY ON GOINS To me, this is going to be an ongoing issue. The simple thing about it is though, if he’s not fit and he can’t play the style of defense we need him to play, for the first time since I’ve been here, that guy just ain’t playing. Because we have enough. This is the other untold story. I could have said that this year: If. You. Don’t. Play. Defense. You. Won’t. Play. Well, then I’m really talking about one or two guys and I wasn’t going to win 21 games. I didn’t want to be a hypocrite and sit here and say, ‘If you don’t hedge a ball-screen, you’re coming out of a game.’ Actually I can now say it and our guys all know it. … I never said it [last year] because I thought it was important for our program to make strides at winning and establish ourselves in the league, and now here we are picked in the top half of the league for the third time in three years.”

Opponent No. 1: JMU opens its season Sunday against Canisius in a return game from a Bracketbusters matchup two years ago.

BRADY on CANISIUS: “I don’t know a damn thing about them for Sunday. They have a whole new starting five. They graduated five guys. … I know they toyed around with playing a zone defense for a little bit. We probably won’t get tape on them. But I have a sense of how they’ll play from playing against them previously [both two seasons ago and when Brady was in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference with Marist]. We’ll see, but we’ll have the advantage because we’re at home.”

One last note: Late last week, JMU cheerleader Nick Keatts died in his sleep. His presence at games and in the community will certainly be missed.

I met Nick two years ago when he covered a high school football game as a stringer for the Daily News-Record. I didn’t know at the time that he was a cheerleader and sometimes the man under the Duke Dog mask.

But from then on, every time I saw him at a JMU sporting event, we’d greet and he’s always have a giant smile on his face – just happy to be supporting his school. After performing stunts with the cheerleaders during basketball games, Nick would always leap and slap the backboard on the way off the court. It was as if he couldn’t find enough ways to show the energy he had for the Dukes.

Looking at his Facebook page this weekend, it was obvious that Nick touched more than just backboards. Hundreds of friends left messages in support of the young man who was constantly enthusiastic and friendly.

Hopefully Nick’s fingerprints are still on those backboards, just as they are, figuratively, on JMU athletics.

JMU will be hosting a memorial service for Nick on Tuesday at 4 p.m., at the Convocation Center: http://www.jmusports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_LANG=C&ATCLID=205329318&DB_OEM_ID=14400

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Doug permalink
    November 7, 2011 11:58 pm

    If Devon comes back? Did I read that correctly? Please tell me he is coming back

  2. Mark Selig permalink*
    November 8, 2011 4:28 pm

    Doug,

    In that quote, I think he was just trying to say that if someone got hurt around the time Devon is scheduled to get back (maybe on December 19, rather than November 19) he would feel more comfortable in keeping someone redshirted, knowing that their PG would be back soon.

    While all I’ve heard is good things about Moore’s academic progress, it’s still not a done deal that he will return in the second semester. He has to take care of business during first semester.

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