NEW BRITAIN â€“ The CCSU menâ€™s and womenâ€™s basketball teams are officially on holiday break, idle until resuming play on Jan. 7. The menâ€™s team has a longer break than usual after its last two games, both non-conference matchups against Fordham and Binghamton, respectively, were canceled.
With an extended break in the action for both groups, which are both already showing much-improved performances from last year, letâ€™s take a look at where both Blue Devils squads stand among the rest of the Northeast Conference before things kick back off in 2021.
On the menâ€™s side, CCSUâ€™s offensive renaissance has been one of the great turnarounds in the conference this year. After finishing with one of the worst scoring offenses in 2019-20, the Blue Devilsâ€™ young core has improved across the board in its shooting efficiency, helping the team score 75.1 points per game, good for third in the conference. Since suffering back-to-back losses against Army and Hartford prior to conference play, CCSU hasnâ€™t been held below 70 points, and have won two of its last four games.
Defensively, Donyell Marshallâ€™s group could stand to see some improvement, as the Blue Devilsâ€™ 82.4 points per game allowed so far this season is second worst in the conference, behind only St. Francis Brooklyn, which CCSU beat in its last game way back on Dec. 16. The good news: that win was the Blue Devilsâ€™ best defensive performance of the season, allowing a season-low 59 points, which says a lot considering it came against the second-best scoring offense in the NEC.
CCSU has been efficient from the floor, contributing to its offensive surge. The team is shooting 47 percent from the field, behind only Bryant on the conference leaderboard. It is also the second-best 3-point shooting team in the NEC, hitting 37 percent of its triples, again behind only Bryant. But when the shots arenâ€™t falling, the Blue Devils have struggled to generate second chances, and have labored on the defensive glass as well, a deficiency Marshall points to when discussing how the defense can improve. CCSU has the second worst rebounding margin in the conference, and will need to eliminate second chance points, as well as create some of its own, if it wants to take the next step forward.
The Blue Devilsâ€™ success has been a collective effort, which is highlighted by the scoring leaders in the conference. Despite having one of the top offenses in the NEC, CCSUâ€™s top scorer in Greg Outlaw is 19th in the conference with 12.5 points per game. The teamâ€™s most efficient shooters, Tre Mitchell and Karrington Wallace, are eighth and 10th in the NEC, respectively, in field goal percentage, while first-year contributor Nigel Scantlebury has been spreading the wealth, ranking fifth in the conference in assists with 4.6 per game.
The womenâ€™s team has a smaller sample size, having played just four games so far due to a delayed start as a result of a positive covid test, but like the menâ€™s team, the Blue Devils have looked much better already compared to last season. CCSUâ€™s scoring offense is second best in the NEC, while the defense has been much-improved, allowing 65.8 points per game, good for third best in the conference. The team ranks tops in the conference with a 43 percent collective field goal percentage, and is shooting 80 percent from the free throw line, a mark bested by only Mount St. Maryâ€™s. Thanks to senior center Ashley Berube, the Blue Devils lead the conference in blocks, but they could stand to improve in defensive rebounding, where they rank last in the league. But back on the offensive end, things are clicking, as the team is first in the NEC in assists and turnover margin, helped along by standout guards like Emma McCamus and Forever Toppin.
Speaking of McCamus, her career performance on opening day has her scoring average at 16.8 points per game, third best in the NEC (she also leads the conference with a perfect free throw percentage, having made all 11 of her foul shots this season), and Berube isnâ€™t far behind, fifth in the conference with 15 points per game. Berube is averaging nearly a double-double, as she has 9.3 rebounds per game, and her 54.2 percent mark from the field is third best in the conference, while teammate Ashley Forker is close behind, ranking fourth with a 52.9 percent clip. Forker is also tops in the NEC with 5.3 assists per game, helping her have the second best assist/turnover ratio. Needless to say, both teams are statistically showing immense growth from last season, and it shows on the court.