Who Are You: James Madison Dukes

Kevin "Kevo" Danna provides the faithful with his preview of the James Madison Dukes, including a look at their past and current seasons, the players to watch out for tonight, and the keys to a Stanford victory.

Sunday night, December 13.  That was the last time Stanford Men's Basketball was victorious on the hardwood, an 85-69 triumph over UC Davis.  Since then the Farm Boys have dropped three in a row to fall below .500 for the first time this late in a season since 2005-2006 with hard-fought losses to Oklahoma State, Northwestern, and Texas Tech.  Now back from a three-day Christmas break, the Cardinal are set to face the James Madison Dukes out of the Colonial Athletic Association.  A win tonight would give Stanford a little momentum and confidence heading into the Pac-10 opener Saturday afternoon in Berkeley.  Let's take a look inside the Dukes' locker room and see how the Cardinal can get back to .500:

2008-2009 Season: 21-15 (9-9 CAA- 7th)
This is a team that has really risen from the ashes under 2nd-year coach Matt Brady.  In his first season at the helm, the Dukes had their first winning season and post-season berth since the 1999-2000 season when they went 20-9 (12-4 CAA).  Their nine conference victories were also the most they've registered since 1999-2000. Stanford underwent a similar transition last season, and having gone through the natural growing pains that come with a coaching change, Cardinal fans should really appreciate what the Dukes were able to accomplish last season.  The Dukes were led on the court by leading scorers Juwann James, Julius Wells, and Kyle Swanston.  Now-senior point guard Pierre Curtis led the team with 51 steals, a mark that is 4th all-time in the James Madison single-season record books.

2009-2010 Season: 6-4 (0-1 CAA)
The Dukes might have a nice record, but they haven't faced the toughest competition.  Their SOS is 339th in the nation according to the Pomeroy rankings and they have yet to face a Power Conference team.  However, this team has had new life since Denzel Bowles, a transfer from Texas A&M, was cleared to play by the NCAA after the conclusion of the fall semester at JMU.  In three games, Bowles has averaged 25 points and 11 rebounds and has really made the Dukes that much more dangerous.  They are picked to finish 5th in the Colonial Athletic Association this season behind Old Dominion, Northeastern, Virginia Commonwealth, and George Mason, respectively.

Key Players:
•     Denzel Bowles (6'10, 255-lb Junior)- leads team in scoring and rebounding with 25 ppg and 11 rpg.  In their biggest win of the season against Gardner Webb (78-57), Denzel dropped 37 and 15 on the Big South Bulldogs.
•     Pierre Curtis (6'3, 180-lb Senior)- might not be one of their top scorers (8.9 per), but he leads the team in minutes played and really makes the Dukes engine go.  His 4.6 assists per contest lead the team and he also has 14 steals, good for 2nd on James Madison
•     Julius Wells (6'5, 190-lb Sophomore)¬- last season's CAA Rookie of the Year with 11.6 ppg and 5.5 rpg, he has upped the ante so far in 2009-2010 with 13.7 ppg and 6.1 rpg.  However, he is only a 56% foul shooter and hits at a 37% rate from the field.

Team Stats (opponent statistics in italics):
•     64.3 ppg(64.6)-37 rpg(37.7)-14.8 apg(12.4); .422 FG%(.382)-.265 3FG%(.288)-.665 FT%(.730); 15.2 TO(12.9)-5.7 spg(8.2)-4.4 bpg(2.1)

Kevo's Keys to Cardinal Success against the Dukes
•     Hurry up the Dukes: James Madison likes to keep the game in the mid-60s and control the clock.  Pressure man-to-man defense will work against a team that doesn't have the offensive firepower of a TTU or Oklahoma State.  Also, JMU averages 15.2 TOs per game, so they are definitely susceptible to giving the ball to the opposition.
•     Get out to an early lead and hold on to it: Stanford had early leads that quickly slipped away against each of their last three opponents.  Holding on to that lead for a longer period of time will also force the Dukes out of their comfort zone and make them rush more shots in the 2nd half.
•     Big play from the "Bigs"- outside of Denzel Bowles, the Dukes do not really have anyone that is comparable to Stanford's post players.  If Bowles can be kept in check (he certainly will not put up 25 and 11- we're not Gardner-Webb or Fordham!), Trotter, Zimmermann, and Company should be able to pad their stats and get some confidence when getting ready to take on Max Zhang and Marc Sanders-Frison of Cal on Saturday afternoon.

Check back on The Bootleg after the game for a descriptive and detailed post-game wrap-up from Ray "Boom Boom" Salloom!

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