Men's Basketball Looks for Second Straight Conference Win
Jan. 16, 2009
GAME 17 JANUARY 17, 2009
Matchup: Lafayette (5-11, 1-1) vs. Navy (13-4, 2-0)
THE MATCHUP: Lafayette welcomes conference league leader Navy, which is undefeated in league play after downing Bucknell and Lehigh. Though the Leopards trail in the overall series 39-22, they hold a winning record at home vs. the Midshipmen, 13-9.
LAST TIME OUT: It was a game of who wanted it more, and Lafayette emerged victorious. The Leopards (5-11, 1-1) edged Colgate (5-10, 1-1) on Wednesday night in their conference home opener, 69-62.
LEOPARD LEADERSHIP: Senior guard Andrew Brown and junior guard Jeff Kari are serving as the team captains. Brown is the lone member of the class of 2009 and is the team's leading scorer (14.3 ppg). He has played in 103 games in his career. Kari played in 30 games in his first season on College Hill after transferring from East Carolina and is one of the most improved players in the league. After averaging 4.0 ppg and 1.7 rpg in 2007-08, he is now averaging 11.6 ppg and 4.1 rpg.
BEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE FREE: The Leopards have been solid from the free throw line as of late. In its last four games, Lafayette has hit at least 81 percent from the free throw line. The Leopards produced season-best outings from the charity stripe in two consecutive games, converting 18-of-21 (85.7 percent) against Penn on Jan. 6 and 12-of-14 (85.7 percent) against Mount St. Mary's on Jan. 2. Lafayette recorded its most makes and attempts from the charity stripe this season against Towson (22-of-32; 68.8 percent) on Dec 28.
MIXING IT UP: Head coach Fran O'Hanlon swapped the starting five for the second consecutive game vs. Colgate, using his fifth lineup of the season with Andrew Brown, Ben Wheeler and Jeff Kari at guard and Ryan Willen and Jared Mintz at forward.
CHIPPING IN: All 12 Lafayette players that recorded minutes against Colgate on Wednesday scored in the game. The last time every player scored in one game was on Feb. 16, 2008 when Lafayette lost to Navy, 82-80 in Annapolis, Md.
No. 1 vs. No. 2: Tonight's game should be a showdown from three-point range. Lafayette averages the most treys per game (8.3), but Navy isn't far behind at 7.7 per game. Preseason All-Patriot League selections Chris Harris and Andrew Brown are among the top three three-point specialists in the conference. Harris ranks second with 3.1 per game and Brown follows at 2.6 per game.
FIELD DAY: On Wednesday, the Leopards pulled out their first win in games when the opponent shoots a better field goal percentage after an 0-9 drought. Colgate sank 44.2 percent from the field while Lafayette hit 40.8 percent. So what accounts for the win? The Leopards outrebounded the Raiders (37 to 33), swiped more steals (10 to six), converted more from the free throw line (82.8 percent to 52.0 percent) and swatted more shots (four to one).
LIGHTING UP THE LINE: Freshman Ryan Willen missed his first free throw in 24 days on Jan. 10. He had hit a perfect 16-for-16 since Dec. 17 before missing his final free throw attempt in six tries at Holy Cross. He started another streak on Wednesday after sinking 6-for-6 against Colgate.
SAY WHAT?: As crazy as it sounds, statistics show that the Leopards are more likely to win when they commit a higher number of turnovers. In the games it has lost this year, Lafayette averages 17.6 turnovers per game. By contrast, Lafayette averages 18.2 turnovers per game in the games it has won.
IN WINS AND LOSSES: In their five wins, the Leopards have held opponents to 39.6 percent from the field. In losses, however, Lafayette allows opponents to hit 49.8 percent from the floor.
AT THE HALF: The Leopards entered halftime with a 23-21 lead over Princeton on Dec. 30. The combined 44 points were the fewest at halftime of Lafayette's 12 games this season and the fewest since Jan. 13, 2007. On that date, Navy headed into the locker room with a 28-16 lead over the Leopards. The Leopards have lost just one game this season (5-1) when leading at the half, falling to Rider after leading 41-30 at halftime.
VISOCKAS RETURNS: Sophomore Deirunas Visockas, who underwent knee surgery in the off season, saw his first minutes of the season against Penn on Jan. 6. He grabbed two boards and attempted one shot in nine minutes of playing time. He scored his first points the following game, with five points in 12 minutes at Holy Cross on Jan. 10. Visockas averages 2.3 ppg and 1.7 rpg three games off the bench.
1,200 CLUB: When senior Andrew Brown sank a free throw with 14 seconds remaining against Towson to secure a 70-63 win, the guard tallied his 1,200th career point. As a result, Brown became the 18th player in school history to achieve the feat and has since upped that total to 1,260.
BLOCK PARTY: Stay out of Marek Koltun's way. The junior center has 15 blocks on the season, surpassing his career total from his previous two seasons combined. With 28 stuffs to his name, he needs two more rejections to break into Lafayette's top 25 leading blockers in records dating back to 1977-78.
WELCOME TO COLLEGE: Head coach Fran O'Hanlon hasn't been afraid to use the seven members of his freshman class this season. Ryan Willen has played in all 16 games, Nick Petkovich 15, Alex Orchowski 14, Jim Mower 13, Andy Moore and J.D. Pelham 9 apiece and Rob Delaney (with one start) clocked eight.
ABOUT LAFAYETTE COLLEGE: Located in Easton, Pa. (70 miles west of New York City and 60 miles north of Philadelphia) on the banks of the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers, Lafayette is a small liberal arts school with a renowned engineering program. Lafayette, which has 23 Division I sports with a student body of 2,382 undergraduates, competes in the Patriot League with Army, Navy, Bucknell, Holy Cross, Colgate, American and Lehigh. Lafayette is the alma mater of Pete Carril and Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon.
NEXT UP: The Leopards travel to Lewisburg, Pa., to face Bucknell on Wednesday at 7 p.m. before returning home on Jan. 24 for a 1 p.m. tipoff against archrival Lehigh.
THRIVING WITH THIRTY: Andrew Brown's 30-point production against Robert Morris was the fourth such game of his career. Brown first drained 30 points as a sophomore on Jan. 20, 2007, at archrival Lehigh. He accomplished the feat twice as a junior, scoring 32 at Mount St. Mary's on Dec. 21, 2007, before notching his career high against Army (34 points) on Jan 30, 2008.
WELCOME BACK, GRUNER: Since returning from his six-game layoff due to injury, junior guard Michael Gruner is back to his old self. He has tallied double digits in scoring in four of Lafayette's last eight games, recently posting a career-high 15 points against Princeton on Dec. 30. Gruner, who sat out six games from Nov. 18 to Dec. 4 with a thigh contusion, returned to the court with a five-minute stint at Fordham on Dec. 8.
BEHIND THE ARC: Lafayette is averaging 8.3 three-pointers per game, good enough to place the Leopards 23rd in the nation through games of Jan 11. In 2007-08 Lafayette ranked fifth in the nation with 10.0 three-pointers made per game. Individually this season, Andrew Brown leads the team with 40 three-pointers (2.6 per game) and made a season-high seven vs. Robert Morris on Dec. 17. He is ranked 75th in the nation in three-pointers per game.
PRESEASON ALL-PATRIOT FOR BROWN: Senior guard Andrew Brown was selected to the Preseason All-Patriot League Team in late October. Brown was an All-Patriot League Second-Team pick at the end of the 2007-08 season after leading the Leopards in scoring 14 times and averaging a team-best 15.9 ppg. He also led the team in assists (85).
MOVING UP THE SCORING CHARTS: Brown is climbing the all-time career scoring list. This season his 229 points have catapulted him from 35th to 13th among career scoring leaders, and he now has 1,260 career points. He recently surpassed Bilal Abdullah '08 (1,253 pts.) and needs 57 points to catch Bruce Stankavage '91 (1,317) in 12th place.
ASCENDING THE ASSISTS LIST: Brown is also moving up the career assists list. With four assists against Colgate, Brown increased his total to 58 for the season and 321 for his career, passing Brian Burke '02 (308) and claiming seventh place. He needs 51 more to tie Bob Falconiero '80 (372) for the sixth spot on the list.
FROM DOWNTOWN: Brown's hot hand from behind the arc last year helped him cement his name in the Lafayette record books. Brown owns the school record for most three-pointers in a game (nine), most three-point field goal attempts in a season (247) and most treys made in a season (99). After sinking 41 treys this season, he now has 260 three-pointers to his name and needs 12 more to break the career record held by Tyson Whitfield '01.
LAFAYETTE ON TELEVISION: The Leopards have 15 games televised at home. Fourteen telecasts will be produced by the Lafayette Sports Network (LSN). The Leopards garnered national exposure on
ON THE SIDELINE: The all-time winningest coach in Lafayette history and the longest tenured coach in the Patriot League, Fran O'Hanlon (Villanova, '70) is in his 14th season as the Leopards' head coach. A two-time Patriot League Coach of the Year recipient, O'Hanlon has twice led Lafayette's program to the NCAA Tournament and lays claim to three Patriot League regular-season titles among his credentials.
KEEP IT UP, KARI: Junior guard Jeff Kari never seems satisfied with his career highs. He has either set or tied his career high in points in five games this season. He set his career high with 15 points in the season opener at Wagner. He reset his career high against Stony Brook with 16 points, and again hit for 16 points against Temple. He then bested that mark with a 21-point performance against Rider.
LOTS OF THREE BALLS AT HARTFORD (12/4): Lafayette made a season-high 15 three-pointers at Hartford on Dec. 4. It was the first time since Jan. 2, 2008 at Pittsburgh when they made 15 or more. Those 17 treys at Pitt were the most allowed by a Panther opponent in the program's history.
WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU?: Andrew Brown can distribute the ball. The Littleton, Colo. native led the team in assists his first three years on College Hill. Brown dished out 94 assists (3.1 apg) as a sophomore and started 27 of 30 games. He had 84 assists as a freshman, starting all but three games, and was the first freshman during the Fran O'Hanlon era to lead the team in assists. Brown finished his junior year with a team-high 85 assists in 30 games (2.8 apg), despite taking a more active scoring role. This season, Brown has 58 assists through 16 games (3.6 apg).
SEEING DOUBLE: Freshman Ryan Willen seems to be adjusting to college just fine. The Cape Girardeau, Mo. native posted a double-double against Stony Brook (11/18), tallying 15 points and 10 rebounds.
LOOKING BACK: The last time Lafayette started off the season with a 2-0 record was in 1998-99. In that season, the Leopards defeated Dartmouth, 56-41, and Princeton, 63-47. Lafayette went on to earn a 22-8 record, including a 10-2 record in the Patriot League, and secured a berth to the NCAA Tournament after winning its first Patriot League championship (against Bucknell).
THE PRESEASON POLL: Lafayette was picked eighth in the Patriot League Preseason Poll voted on by the conference head coaches and sports information directors. Defending champion American was selected to repeat followed by Lehigh, Holy Cross, Colgate, Bucknell, Navy and Army.
IN THE RANKS: Seven of Lafayette's non-conference opponents were picked to finish within the top five of their respective leagues in the pre-season polls. At No. 1, Mount St. Mary's is the highest ranked non-conference opponent the Leopards will face. Lafayette will tip off against five opponents from the Northeast Conference -- the most of any one conference on the Leopards' schedule.
D.C. DANDIES: Though players from 11 states and three countries are represented on Lafayette's roster, the Leopards do have a preference for the D.C. area. Prior to arriving on College Hill, three of Lafayette's guards attended schools within 25 miles of the nation's capital. Michael Gruner shined at Walt Whitman High School, where he led his team to a state championship. Sophomore Ben Wheeler played at Chantilly where he garnered first team all-district and second team all-region accolades his senior year. Freshman Nick Petkovich is the most recent addition from the D.C. area, an All-IAC Conference First-Team selection from Bullis Prep.
WORKING OVERTIME IN 2007-08: The Leopards set an NCAA single-season record with five overtime wins on the road (at Navy -- 103-99 on Jan. 19, at Colgate 69-68 on Jan. 16, at Princeton -- 76-71 on Jan. 9, at Towson -- 79-69 on Dec. 19 and at Stony Brook -- 78-67 on Nov. 12) in 2007-08. The lone win at home in overtime came Nov. 20 vs. UMBC (87-84) to give the team a total of six overtime victories and tie the NCAA team record for overtime victories in a season. Wake Forest (6-1 in 1988-89) and Chattanooga (6-0 in 1983-84) share the mark. Fran O'Hanlon is 16-10 in overtime.
BASKETBALL IQ: Lafayette placed a program-best five student-athletes on the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll during the 2007-08 season. The distinction recognizes those who have earned a varsity letter and maintained a 3.2 GPA during the spring semester. Junior Michael Gruner and sophomores Deirunas Visockas and Ben Wheeler along with graduated players Matt Betley and Paul Cummins earned the nod.
ON THE RADIO: The entire 2008-09 Lafayette men's basketball season will air on WSAN-AM 1470 "The Fox." Entering his 42nd season as the radio voice of Lafayette athletics, Dick Hammer will continue to call the play-by-play action. Joining Hammer courtside will be Lafayette Sports Information Director Phil LaBella.
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