By Max Sass, Sports Editor
RICHMOND, VA.-- There have been plenty of lasts for Charles Jenkins. Last home game, last road game, last time anyone at Hofstra will wear number 22, but this was different. Hofstra's opening game of the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament, a quarterfinal matchup against William and Mary, could have been the very last one.
Never again would Jenkins wear the Pride's blue and gold if William & Mary bested his squad Saturday night. He would never have the chance to play again with good buddy Greg Washington or under head coach Mo Cassara again.
That became very real when the Pride went into halftime trailing 27-25. Could Hofstra's all-time leading scorer only have 20 more minutes left in front of the fans and the school he loves?
The answer was no.
It was clear that Jenkins came out in the second half with a renewed sense of urgency. Demanding the ball from his teammates, even when point guard Brad Kelleher was on the floor and exerting his will on the Tribe as he muscled and spun his way into the lane, toward the rim, with power reserved for a football player mixed with balance only seen in ballerinas.
Not just the bulldog-like demeanor on his drives to the basket impressed his coach, the 37-year-old Cassara. "I think where you really saw it was defensively. I think defensively he really did a good job and really picked up the excitement," Cassara said.
Jenkins and Cassara were on the same page. Jenkins thought it was defense too that he honed in on in the second half.
"The second half, it was a sense of urgency not necessarily on offense, but on defense," Jenkins said. "If we get stops, we get out and get easy baskets."
The scoreboard clock ticked under 10 minutes at the Richmond Coliseum with the Pride leading 47-41 over William and Mary. With only 10 precious minutes left in the win or go home game, he rose up and released a beautiful, high-arcing three-point shot that came no where near hitting the rim, it was purely net. He turned, raised his right hand to his right eye, index finger and thumb forming a circle and his other three telling the crowd how many points he had just scored and released a primal yell. No way Jenkins was letting this be his last.
"He just doesn't want it to end. He just loves playing basketball for Hofstra. He loves this team and he just wants to keep playing," Cassara said.
All of a sudden it was not about winning anymore though. Under eight minutes remained when Kelleher, his fellow senior guard, was knocked to the floor by a Tribe forward. Jenkins shooed the cameraman away, his teammate was hurt and this was not something everybody needed to see. Just like always, he was unselfish on the court, but this time he did not have a basketball in his hands.
Jenkins' unselfishness has been both a blessing and a burden for the Pride. He leads the league with 4.8 assists per game, an incredible total when put next to his 23.2 points per game, fourth in the nation and best in the CAA. But he is a two-time CAA Player of the Year and he needs to take over sometimes. His former coach Tom Pecora used to give him a hard time for not putting up 20 shots in a game.
Jenkins took exactly as many shots as he needed Saturday night. He put up 15 shots and made 5 of them, good for 20 points.
That number does not matter though. The number that matters is one. As in how many more games he is guaranteed in a Hofstra uniform.