NEW BRITAIN – Encouraged while not entirely pleased Thursday night, Central Connecticut coach Howie Dickenman wanted his players to harp on what was right in another game gone wrong.
“After games, we probe and try to dig up positives,” Dickenman said after a 76-66 loss to St. Francis Brooklyn at Detrick Gymnasium. “I don't want to get down on kids and I don't want them to get down on themselves. I told them this was a night where we have no difficulty finding positives. I thought we played well.
“There’s the saying, ‘There's a little light at the end of the tunnel.’ I did say, ‘There's a lot of light at the end of the tunnel from now on.’”
The Blue Devils (4-12) have lost six of seven. They are 0-3 in Northeast Conference play for the first time since 2007-08. Without Matt Hunter (academically ineligible) and Kyle Vinales (broken finger), Central has struggled to get moving in the right direction, but some small steps were taken Thursday before a crowd of 1,115.
Central trailed by 11 midway through the first half and by 10 early in the second but used an 11-0 run to lead 40-39. St. Francis, led by 20 points and 10 rebounds from Jalen Cannon, ultimately had too many answers, including consecutive three-pointers by point guard Brent Jones – one to push the lead to 68-60 with 2:18 remaining, another to make it 71-62 with 1:44 left.
“We didn't chuck up shots,” said Jones, who last season missed a three-pointer at the buzzer in Central’s 72-70 victory in New Britain. “I was just trying to look for my guys and take the right shots. The type of defense [Central] played, they [sagged] in the paint. Keep swinging it, keep swinging it, and somebody's going to be open.”
Central, which had won 13 of the last 15 and nine in a row at home against St. Francis, had a 40-31 rebounding edge but committed 17 turnovers. Dickenman and his players were pleased with the effort.
“Sometimes we show a glimpse of the team we can be,” said forward Faronte Drakeford, who had 18 points and five rebounds. “We, as a team, are still encouraged.”
Malcolm McMillan had 14 points, six assists and six turnovers. Matt Mobley had 10 points and five rebounds. Jones and Anthony White each had 10 points for St. Francis (11-7, 2-1).
Central hosts LIU Brooklyn Saturday. The last time the Blue Devils were 0-4 in conference play was 2004-05.
Vinales, averaging a team-high 17.4 points, has missed the last three games and is expected to return in two weeks. The Blue Devils are embracing signs of growth that will help in February and March.
“If you can find positives in a loss, there were a lot of positives,” Dickenman said. “What we need is a win. It’s a mini-lift when you play well and lose. What we want is a maxi-lift.”Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun