Leopards and Mountain Hawks Meet in Early Season Showdown
Jan. 11, 2005
Match Up: Lafayette (5-8, 1-0) at Lehigh (7-7, 1-0)
THE STORY LINE: Lafayette makes the annual trip to Bethlehem for the 201st meeting with Lehigh. Both teams won their first Patriot League game on Saturday. The Leopards defeated Navy, 90-80, behind 18 points and 17 rebounds from Jamaal Douglas. Joe Knight's three-pointer with 12 seconds left gave the Mountain Hawks a 59-56 win at American.
COMING UP: The Leopards travel to American for the third league game of the season on Saturday. The game was originally slated for 1 p.m., but a scheduling change has moved the tip to a 2 p.m. start. The Eagles are 0-1 in league play after losing at home to Lehigh.
ABDULLAH - ALASKAN FOR "ROOKIE OF THE WEEK": Freshman Bilal Abdullah scored 15 points and contributed five rebounds, three assists and three steals against Navy to give the Anchorage, Alaska native his third Patriot League Rookie of the Week honor in 2004-05. Abdullah is second on the team with 9.8 ppg and leads the squad with 39 assists and 20 steals. He was previously named Rookie of the Week on Dec. 20 after a 21-point, 10-rebound, nine-assist performance in Lafayette's 95-89 overtime win over Cal State-Northridge. Abdullah also earned the honor on Jan. 3, with 12 points and a career-high four steals at Georgia Tech and a team-high 11 points in a winning effort against Columbia.
LACE UP YOUR REBOUNDING SHOES: Sophomore Jamaal Douglas pulled down a career-high 17 rebounds against Navy to raise his average to 8.0 per game, which paces the Patriot League. The Mids' Laramie Mergerson entered as the league leader but managed just six boards in the contest. Douglas also reached a career-best with 18 points in Lafayette's 90-80 win. Of the Leopards' year-by-year rebounding leaders over the last 25 seasons, only Stefan Ciosici, the 1998 PL Player of the Year, had at least 17 boards in a single game.
NATIONALLY-RANKED: Jamaal Hilliard is currently ranked second in the nation in free throw percentage through Jan. 3. The sophomore guard was shooting 93.5 percent from the line before a 6-for-8 effort at St. Francis (NY) "dropped" him down to 90 percent. Hilliard rebounded with a 10-for-10 performance from the line against Navy to improve to 91.8 percent (45-49). Teammate Sean Knitter has connected on 84 percent of his free throws to help lead the team to a 73 percent showing at the line.
ON THE SIDELINE: Two-time Patriot League Coach of the Year Fran O'Hanlon (Villanova, '70) is in his tenth season as the Leopards' mentor. He has twice led Lafayette's non-scholarship program to the NCAA Tournament and lays claim to three Patriot League regular-season titles among his credentials. O'Hanlon's career record stands at 146-125, a mark that includes two 20-win seasons.
LAST TIME OUT: Sophomore Jamaal Douglas had 18 points and 17 rebounds, both career-highs, and four others were in double figures as Lafayette won its Patriot League opener 90-80 over Navy. Andrei Capusan scored 16 points and Bilal Abdullah had 15. The Leopards were 36-for-44 from the foul line, with Capusan and Jamaal Hilliard knocking down 10 free throws each.
ALL-TIME VS. THE PATRIOT LEAGUE: Lafayette has played 565 games against the seven members of the Patriot League, and has a 323-242 record in all games against them. In Patriot League play, Lafayette is 83-100 in the regular season and 10-12 in the Patriot League Tournament. Under Fran O'Hanlon, the Leopards are 68-45 in Patriot League regular-season play. Lafayette was 10-2 in 1997-98 and 1998-99, 11-1 in 1999-00, 4-8 in 2000-01, 8-6 in 2001-02, 6-8 in 2002-03 and 9-5 in 2003-04.
BALANCE IN THE SCORING COLUMN: Lafayette has had eight players score at least 14 points in a game this season. The 2003-04 squad, which averaged 75.6 ppg and led the league in scoring by almost eight points per night, had only seven players achieve that level of offensive output all season. Bilal Abdullah is the only Leopard to reach the 20-point plateau this year, with 21 against Cal State-Northridge.
HANGIN' 80 ON 'EM: Lafayette is 3-0 this season when scoring at least 80 points in a game. The Leopards opened the year with an 85-71 win at Duquesne, and used 20 points in the overtime session to pull out a 95-89 victory over Cal State-Northridge. Lafayette made 36 free throws en route to 90 points in a 10-point win over Navy.
THREE-POINT BUZZER-BEATERS: Perhaps having a freshman hit a halftime buzzer-beater is the key to winning this season for Lafayettte. The Leopards have hit from long range in three of their five wins. In the season opener at Duquesne, Matt Betley dialed up long distance as the clock wound down for the first points of his career. Against Moravian, Bilal Abdullah followed suit by hitting a buzzer-beating trifecta from the half-court offense. Against Columbia, Ted Detmer did his best Christian Laettner impression, reeling in a pass at mid-court, dribbling twice and firing a three as time expired.
THE STARTING FIVE: With the graduation of four senior starters who started at least two seasons apiece, the 2004-05 Lafayette starting lineup has a much younger look. Head coach Fran O'Hanlon has gone with eight unique starting lineups in the season's first 13 games. Sophomore point guard Marcus Harley is the only player who has been in the starting lineup every game (13 games) and has been joined by Jamaal Hilliard (7 starts), Bilal Abdullah (7 starts), Matt Betley (6 starts), Pat Betley (3 starts) and Paul Cummins (3 starts). In the frontcourt, senior center Jamie Hughes has started 12 games while sophomore Jamaal Douglas (10 starts) and junior Andrei Capusan (4 starts) have split time at power forward. O'Hanlon has given nine players at least three starts each.
OFF THE BENCH: Lafayette's leading scorer, senior Sean Knitter, does all of his scoring off the bench. He is averaging 11.1 points and 5.1 rebounds while playing 20 minutes per game. The lone start of Knitter's Lafayette career came at Navy on Feb. 1, 2004 when he poured in 15 points in 15 minutes of action. Lafayette has had 23 double figure scorers off the bench, led by Knitter, who has scored 10 or more points in nine games. A member of the starting five has hit double figures on 17 occasions.
PLAYING THE PASSING LANES: After averaging just 3.5 steals through the first seven contests, Lafayette has dialed up its intensity with 9.5 steals in the last six games. One of the Leopards' most skilled offensive players, Bilal Abdullah has also emerged as a threat on the defensive end. The freshman guard has at least three steals in five of the last seven games, including four versus Moravian and Georgia Tech. He leads the team with 20 steals on the season, and also paces the squad with 39 assists.
AGAINST NATIONALLY-RANKED OPPONENTS: Lafayette faced two teams ranked in the AP and ESPN/USA Today Top 25 this season. The Leopards trailed No. 9 Georgia Tech 49-43 with 13:14 remaining before the Yellow Jackets pulled away and won 92-58. Lafayette traveled to Louisville on Dec. 4 when the Cardinals were ranked 17th in the nation. The last time Lafayette had faced a nationally-ranked opponent was March 17, 2000 against No. 5 Temple in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Lafayette, the 15th seed in the East Region, lost to the Owls 73-47 in Buffalo.
INJURY REPORT: Assistant athletic trainer Stephanie Conley has reported that junior Andrei Capusan has been hampered by achilles tendonitis which causes pain when he runs and jumps. He missed the St. Francis game but has been cleared to play. Fellow junior Pat Betley has been hampered by a variety of leg injuries and will likely miss the rest of January.
TURNOVER TRIALS: Not surprising for a young team, turnovers have been an issue for the Leopards in 2004-05. Lafayette is averaging 19.2 turnovers per game and forcing an average of 13.9 for a margin of 5.3, and has yet to win the turnover battle in any game this season. The Leopards handed it over 21 times against Navy, but just seven times in the second half, and forced 18 turnovers. In 2003-04 Lafayette committed 15.3 and forced 13.5 for a difference of 1.8 turnovers per game.
A FAMILY AFFAIR: In Lafayette's game vs. Moravian on Dec. 22, three members of the Betley family spent time on the Kirby Sports Center hardwood. Lafayette's Matt Betley and his brother, Chris, a junior guard for Moravian, guarded each other for a stretch of several minutes in the first half. Cousin Pat Betley, also a junior guard, returned to the Leopards' rotation after missing five games due to injury. All three scored in the game; Matt had seven points, while Chris and Pat each had two.
DEEP SHOTS FROM A DEEP BENCH: A pair of Leopards made their first career three-pointers at Georgia Tech. Senior 7-0 center Jamie Hughes caught a pass at the top of the key, stared down Jackets' center Luke Schenscher, and dropped a three on his first attempt in four seasons to put the Leopards ahead 7-5 3:09 into the game. Hughes finished with a season-high nine points and has since attempted one more three-pointer. Sophomore Kerry Kenny hit a triple for his first career points with 56 seconds left in the game, a shot he banked in from the top of the arc.
DEFENDING THEIR TURF: In the friendly confines of Kirby Sports Center, Lafayette cruised to an 11-2 record at home last season. Throughout the O'Hanlon regime, the Leopards sport a home record of 95-31. This year, the Leopards have 13 home contests, and have won their last four games at Kirby after an 0-2 start.
COACH "O" MOVES TO NO. 2: Fran O'Hanlon is the second winningest coach in Lafayette history with 146 victories. He needs just 25 wins to reach George Davidson's record of 170 wins at Lafayette. In 2003-04, he surpassed Butch Van Breda Kolff who had 132 career wins.
CAREER-HIGH BOARD WORK (12/10): Andrei Capusan and Jamaal Douglas each established career rebounding highs at Marist with 15 and 11 caroms, respectively. Both posted double-doubles in the game as Capusan had 13 points and Douglas netted 12. Douglas surpassed that total with 17 rebounds against Navy.
FIVE FOR 10 OR MORE (12/10): Lafayette had five players score in double figures at Marist on Dec. 10. Sean Knitter scored a team-high 14, followed by 13 from Marcus Harley and Andrei Capusan and 12 points from Jamaal Douglas and Matt Betley.
DO I HEAR SIX? (12/13): Lafayette followed the Marist game by placing six players in double figures against Cal State Northridge. Bilal Abdullah led the way with 21 points followed by 15 points from Jamaal Hilliard and 14 by Sean Knitter. Marcus Harley, Jamaal Douglas and Matt Betley chipped in with 12, 11 and 10, respectively.
YES, THEY'RE RELATED: Pat Betley, a junior guard, is being joined on the squad this season by his first cousin Matt Betley, the 2004 South Jersey Player of the Year. Pat is the Leopard's lone returning starter, and averaged 6.6 points per game last season. Matt is averaging 6.6 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.
CAPTAIN COMBO: Seniors Jamie Hughes and Sean Knitter are serving as the team's co-captains in 2004-05. Knitter is currently leading the team in scoring with 11.1 ppg, while Hughes has started all but one contest.
LAFAYETTE ON TELEVISION: For the eighth-straight season, Lafayette features the most expansive television package in the Patriot League. The Leopards have 12 games televised and have the possibility of adding three more televised contests in the Patriot League Tournament. The Lafayette Sports Network will air 11 games to more than 9.1 million viewers in the Lehigh Valley, Pocono region, Philadelphia, central New Jersey and New York City. Locally the telecasts can be seen on RCN Cable channels 4 and 60, Service Electric Cable channel 51, Blue Ridge Cable channel 5 and broadcast channel 60. Several of Lafayette's games that appear on the Lafayette Sports Network will also be picked up by Empire Sports Network which reaches more than 19.5 million viewers in Upstate and Western New York as well as more than 60 million potential viewers on DIRECTV (626) and Dish Network (432). Lafayette will have two games televised on the Patriot League Television Network on Feb. 6 vs. Colgate and Feb. 26 vs. Lehigh. Those games will be carried by nationally by CSTV.
EUROPEAN CONNECTION: Freshman Paul Cummins hails from Ireland and is the next player in a long line of European standouts recruited by Fran O'Hanlon. The list includes 1998 Patriot League Player of the Year Stefan Ciosici, Lafayette's all-time leading shot blocker Rob Dill, and current Leopard Andrei Capusan.
SUMMER SEASONING: Sophomore forward Jamaal Douglas and junior Andrei Capusan spent their summers playing for their home countries. Douglas played with the Bahamas National Under-21 team and Capusan competed with the Romanian Senior National team.
CLIMBING THE CHARTS: Senior Jamie Hughes is ranked 12th in career blocks at Lafayette. Hughes has 42 career blocks and needs two blocks to crack the top 10.
NORTHRIDGE NUMBERS (12/13): Several stats stood out from Lafayette's win over Cal State Northridge on Dec. 13. Lafayette scored a season-high 95 points in an up-tempo game. CSUN managed to fire off 91 shots from the floor...The Leopards turned the ball over 31 times and forced 18 turnovers...Lafayette went to the free throw line 39 times, converting 29 for 74 percent.
PATRIOT PRESEASON POLL: Lafayette has been picked to finish sixth in the Patriot League Preseason Poll. The Leopards are coming off an 18-10 season in which they finished one game out of first place in the Patriot League standings.
ALL-TIME AT LAFAYETTE: In the 95 seasons of men's basketball at Lafayette College, the Leopards hold an overall record of 1156-1000 (.536). Lafayette's first season of basketball was in 1900-01.
THE PATRIOT LEAGUE SLATE: The 2004-05 Patriot League schedule again features a new format. The latest incarnation disposes of men's and women's doubleheaders, which were common at many of the Patriot League schools in years past, in favor of split sites. Thus, when the Lafayette men's face Army in Easton, Pa., the Lafayette women will face the Army women in West Point, N.Y. The other major schedule change comes in the Patriot League Tournament when the top two seeds will host two mini tournaments on their home floors. The winners will advance to the championship game at the site of the highest seed.
ON THE RADIO: Today's game can be heard live on WEST-AM 1400, the 69th year of broadcasting Lafayette Athletics. Dick Hammer is in his 38th year of calling the play-by-play for Lafayette men's basketball. Hammer is joined by Carl Schumacher at home games and most road contests by Phil LaBella (Lafayette SID).
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