Jan. 26, 2010
EASTON, Pa. -
GAME 21 January 27, 2010
Matchup: Lafayette (13-6, 4-0) vs. Army (12-7, 3-1)
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
Site: Easton, Pa. Arena:
Kirby Sports Center (3,500)
Radio: Road games only on 1470 AM TV:
Lafayette Sports Network (RCN-4&8, WBPH-60) (Gary Laubach, John Leone, Dan Mowdy)
Internet: LSN All-Access on GoLeopards.com
Series: Lafayette leads 34-22
First Meeting: 02/03/1926 Army 44, LC 9 in West Point
Last Meeting: 02/25/09 Army 79, LC 55 in Easton
Last Army Win: Same
Last Lafayette Win: 01/30/08 LC 83, Army 58 in Easton
Fran O'Hanlon vs. Army: 21-8
MATCH UP: For the first time this season, Lafayette (13-7, 4-1) looks to rebound from a loss in conference play. Coming off a 75-57 setback at Lehigh on Saturday night, the first-place Leopards welcome Army on Wednesday at Kirby Sports Center. Army (12-7, 2-3) is a senior-dominated team that beat Lafayette in both meetings last season.
CONTRAST OF STYLES: Lafayette and Army play two different styles of basketball. The Leopards prefer to play their games in the 70's and 80's and lead the league in scoring at 74.0 ppg (77.4 in conference games). On the other side of things, Army plays a straight man-to-man grind-it-out style and prefers to keep the game in the 50's and 60's (points, not decades). Army leads the Patriot League in scoring defense at 59.3 ppg (63.0 ppg in conference games).
FIRST PLACE: Five games into the 14-game Patriot League slate, Lafayette (4-1) is in first place in the conference standings, sharing an uncomfortable space with archrival Lehigh.
STREAKING: Lafayette had its season-long six-game winning streak snapped at Lehigh on Saturday. The Leopards beat Bucknell, Navy, Colgate, Holy Cross, Columbia and Penn in that span and have won six of their last seven and nine of their last 11 games. Lafayette has also managed two three-game winning streaks earlier in the season.
SCOUTING ARMY: With seven seniors on the roster, Army (12-7, 2-3) is the most experienced team in the Patriot League. It showed through the non-league schedule when Army posted a 10-4 mark. In league play, Army is 2-3 with wins over Holy Cross (67-64) and American (68-48) and losses to Colgate (68-58 OT), Lehigh (73-55) and Navy (62-56).
The Black Knights' man-to-man defense has been the key. Army leads the league in scoring defense at 59.3 ppg, holding eight opponents to 55 points or fewer.
Army has three players averaging in double figures led by sophomore guard Julian Simmons (12.8 ppg). Fellow guard, senior Josh Miller, is chipping in 10.1 ppg and leads the team with 4.0 assists and 5.2 rebounds per game. Senior Marcus Nelson (6.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg) has started 15 games in the backcourt and is shooting 56 percent from the floor.
Two more seniors occupy spots in the frontcourt. Cleveland Richard, who at 6-3 is an undersized forward, is second on the team in scoring (12.3 ppg) and third in rebounding (4.7 rpg). Chris Walker (4.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg) has started every game.
Army is coached by Zach Spiker (Ithaca '00) who is in his first season as a head coach after serving as an assistant at Cornell for five seasons. Spiker replaced Jim Crews who was let go in September.
SEVEN-ELEVEN: Eleven of Lafayette men's basketball players earned a 3.0 or better GPA in the fall semester led by Mike Gruner's 3.8 GPA. Seven managed a 3.2 or better.
TAKING CARE OF THE HOME COURT: Coming into the season, head coach Fran O'Hanlon and the team set "taking care of our home court" as a goal for the squad. The Leopards have responded, registering an 8-1 mark thus far at Kirby Sports Center, the only loss a two-point setback vs. St. Peter's on Nov. 30. On the flip side, Lafayette is 5-6 on the road.
LAST TIME OUT: Lafayette was dealt its first loss of the conference season on Saturday, 75-57, at Lehigh. The Mountain Hawks opened the second half with an 11-2 run and eventually outscored Lafayette 45-22 in the final 20 minutes. Zahir Carrington had 19 points inside on 7-of-9 shooting while C.J. McCollum had a game-high 23 points for the Mountain Hawks, including four three-pointers. Sophomores Ryan Willen and Jim Mower had 12 and 10 points, respectively, for the Leopards who played without leading scorer Jared Mintz for the final 10 minutes of the game due to injury.
IF YOU'RE SCORING AT HOME: Lafayette is averaging 76.2 points per game at home and 72.2 ppg on the road.
COLD NIGHT AT STABLER: Lafayette shot a season-low 33 percent (17-of-52) at Lehigh on Saturday. The Leopards connected for 15 percent (4-of-27) from the floor in the second half and were 6-of-30 (20%) from three-point land for the game.
VOID IN THE PAINT: Lafayette's leading scorer, junior forward Jared Mintz, missed the final 10 minutes of the Lehigh game after sustaining an injury. Mintz took an elbow to the face that required 12 stitches. He will be available on Wednesday.
FIRING IT UP: Lafayette and Navy are tied for the Patriot League lead in three-point field goal makes. Both have made 155 three's for 7.8 per game. Lafayette, however, is shooting at a much higher percentage (39%) than Navy (35%) for the season. In the head-to-head matchup, Navy made 13 to Lafayette's 11 in a 13-point Lafayette win.
DOUBLE-DOUBLE MINTZ: Junior Jared Mintz posted his third double-double of the season with 17 points and 11 rebounds in the Leopards' win over Bucknell (1/20). It was also the fifth double-double of his career. The junior contributed 20 points and 10 rebounds in the season opener vs. Wagner (11/13) and had 18 and 10 against Hartford (11/24). For the season, he has scored in double figures in 17 of 20 games.
WILLEN ... PLAYER OF THE WEEK X 2: Sophomore guard Ryan Willen earned Patriot League Player of the Week honors in consecutive weeks. Willen averaged 22.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in two games for the Leopards, who won contests at Colgate (1/13) and Navy (1/16) to win Jan. 18. Willen had 19 points and five boards in 19 minutes in a 95-82 win at Colgate and followed that with 26 points (one shy of his career high), eight rebounds and five assists to lead Lafayette to a 90-77 win at Navy. Willen was Lafayette's first player to receive the honor in consecutive weeks since Brian Ehlers on Feb. 15 and 22, 1998.
His first Player of the Week honor (1/11) followed a span when he scored a career-high 27 points on 9-of-11 shooting vs. Columbia (1/6) and registered a 20-point, seven-rebound night vs. Holy Cross in the conference opener Jan. 9.
Academically, the Biology major posted a 3.42 GPA in the fall semester while enrolled in Organic Chemistry, Ethics, Introduction to Psychology, Religions in World Cultures and two labs.
WILLEN IN CONFERENCE PLAY: Ryan Willen is contributing 16.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game in the Leopards' five Patriot League games and is the team leader in both statistical categories.
NEXT UP: Lafayette closes out the first round of Patriot League play, hosting defending Patriot League champ American on Saturday at 1 p.m.
SO FAR, SO GOOD: With 13 wins and a minimum of 10 games remaining on the 2009-10 ledger, Lafayette has surpassed its season win total for all of 2008-09 (8-22).
ON THE BLOCK: Senior center Marek Koltun needs just one more block to move into Lafayette's all-time top 10. "Kolt 54" has 51 and one more would tie him with Andrei Capusan '06.
FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH -- THE PATRIOT LEAGUE PRESEASON POLL: Lafayette was chosen eighth in the Patriot League Preseason Poll. The poll was voted on by the conference head coaches and SID's. Holy Cross was picked to finish first with 13 first-place votes, followed by Lehigh, Bucknell, Army, Colgate, American and Navy.
A HELPING HAND: Lafayette has dished out assists on 59 percent of its baskets in the 2009-10 season. The Leopards had 22 assists on 26 buckets at St. Francis, N.Y. (85 percent) on Dec. 22, their best mark of the season, topping the La Salle and St. Peter's efforts of 72 percent. Lafayette's worst performance of the year (in terms of assists per basket) came in a win against Wagner (9 assists, 25 FG) when the Leopards made up for it by hitting 26-of-31 free throws. In the last outing against Lehigh, Lafayette had nine assists on 17 buckets (53%).
HANDLING THE BALL: Lafayette boasts a positive season assist/turnover ratio for the first time since 2000-01 (+1.03 434/422). Lafayette is +1.13 (298/262) this season. Lafayette had a 1:1 assist/turnover ratio in 2003-04 (429/429).
200 AND STILL GOING: Lafayette head coach Fran O'Hanlon reached the 200-win plateau on Dec. 12 with the Leopards' victory over Long Island. He is the only Lafayette coach to win 200-plus games.
"O" REACHES P.L. LONGEVITY MARK: With his 424th game at the helm of the Lafayette program, Fran O'Hanlon holds the Patriot League all-time mark for games coached. He surpassed retired Bucknell coach Pat Flannery (412).
D.C. DANDIES: Though players from 11 states and three countries are represented on Lafayette's roster, the Leopards feature three from the geographic cluster that is the D.C. Metro 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. Junior Ben Wheeler played at Chantilly where he garnered first team all-district and second team all-region accolades his senior year. Sophomore Nick Petkovich was an All-IAC Conference First-Team selection from Bullis Prep.
MOWER'S MAJOR MINUTES: Sophomore guard Jim Mower played the first seven games off the bench and has started the last 13. Mower enjoyed a breakout game vs. Fairleigh Dickinson (12/9), scoring 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting and has been one of the team's most consistent shooters ever since. Mower knocked down a career-high 25 points against LIU (12/12) on 6-of-7 shooting from the three-point range, a performance that helped earn him his first Patriot League Player of the Week nod.
The Harleysville, Pa. native is second on the team in scoring with 13.4 ppg in 25 minutes per game. The number that stands out the most for Mower is his assist/turnover ratio which is +2.2 (42/19).
MINTZ, FROM THE FLOOR: Junior forward Jared Mintz has been the Leopards' leading scorer from the outset of 2009-10. The Toronto, Canada native has been an efficient scorer. Mintz is currently shooting 59 percent from the floor. His season shooting percentage includes a 9-of-9 night at St. Francis (Pa.), an 8-of-10 stint at NJIT, a 6-of-7 performance vs. Hartford and a 5-for-7 day at Georgetown.
...AND THE LINE: Jared Mintz is just as efficient when he gets to the free throw line. Mintz is shooting a team-best 88 percent, making 82-of-93 attempts. He was 8-of-8 from the line at Delaware and vs. Wagner (11/13), 6-of-6 against Holy Cross, 8-of-9 at Colgate and another 8-of-9 at Navy. Mintz is currently second in the Patriot League in free throw shooting behind Navy's Chris Harris.
NCAA RANKINGS: The latest national rankings (1/24) show Jared Mintz ranked ninth in the country in field goal percentage (59%) and 25th in the country in free throw percentage (88%). Sophomore Jim Mower was fourth nationally for three-point field goal percentage (47%).
100 AND STILL GOING: Other than Nike sneakers, what do North Carolina basketball and Lafayette basketball have in common? For both teams, the 2009-10 season marks the 100th season of men's basketball. Lafayette's first season was 1900-01, but the school did not field a team from 1903-04 to 1912-13.
ON THE SIDELINE: The all-time winningest coach in Lafayette history and longest-tenured coach in the Patriot League, Fran O'Hanlon (Villanova, '70) is in his 15th season as the Leopards' head coach. A two-time Patriot League Coach of the Year, O'Hanlon has twice led Lafayette's program to the NCAA Tournament and lays claim to three Patriot League regular-season titles.
With a 75-71 double-overtime victory over Lehigh on Feb. 18, 2007, O'Hanlon became the winningest coach in Lafayette history and now holds an all-time record of 207-217 on College Hill.
O'Hanlon's overall record does not necessarily tell an accurate story of the job he has done at Lafayette. The Philadelphia native inherited a 2-25 team when he took over in 1995-96 and won seven, 11, 19, 22 and 24 games over the next five seasons. From 1997-2000, Lafayette was 65-24 overall and 31-5 in the conference with two NCAA Tournament appearances. In 1996, the Patriot League, which was originally founded based on the principle of need-based financial aid only, began allowing athletic scholarships. However, it was not until 2006 that Lafayette chose to do so. By no coincidence, during that span, Lafayette posted a 79-91 mark and was 38-44 in the league.
FABULOUS FRESHMAN TO SUPER SOPHOMORE?: Sophomore forward Ryan Willen was named to the Patriot League All-Rookie team in 2008-09, the seventh freshman in school history to earn the accolade.
This season, Willen is averaging 11.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game and has 31 assists. Willen's had a career-high 27 points against Columbia and was 9-for-11 from the field (82%).
In addition to his work on the court, Willen is enrolled in Organic Chemistry, Introduction to Neuroscience, Quantitative Methods, Applied Behavior Analysis and a lab for the spring semester.
FRESH IMPACT: Freshman Tony Johnson has made a positive impact on the court for the Leopards. Johnson is averaging 19 minutes per game and has 33 assists to 23 turnovers, solid numbers for a freshman who has been asked to handle the ball often. Johnson is also second on the team in steals (22) (10th in the Patriot League) and sixth in assists. A 6-0 native of Folsom, Calif., Johnson is the only true point guard on the team. Johnson was 7-for-7 from the line and finished with nine points while also adding three assists in 18 minutes against FDU (12/9).
Fellow first-year player Levi Giese has seen action in 17 games while averaging 1.0 points and 0.7 rebounds per game. A 6-9 forward, Giese comes from Tulsa, Okla. and brings solid perimeter skills. Giese played eight minutes with three points and two rebounds at Delaware.
NEC TITLE?: The Leopards finished a slate of six games against Northeast Conference (NEC) teams with a 5-1 record, beating Wagner, St. Francis (Pa.), Fairleigh Dickinson, Long Island and St. Francis (N.Y.) with the only loss coming to Sacred Heart.
IN THE RANKS: Seven of Lafayette's non-conference opponents were picked to finish within the top five of their respective leagues in the preseason polls. At No. 2, Long Island and Princeton were the highest ranked non-conference opponents the Leopards faced. Lafayette tipped off against six opponents from the Northeast Conference -- the most of any one conference on the Leopards' schedule.
FACEBOOK/TWITTER:Fans can follow Lafayette basketball on Facebook at facebook.com/lafayette.leopard and Twitter at twitter.com/goleopards .
WHAT GARDEN STATER IS IN THAT JERSEY?: With its proximity to the Garden State (about two miles away from the border), Lafayette has played four New Jersey schools this season: NJIT, Fairleigh Dickinson, Princeton and St. Peter's. Lafayette was 2-2 in those meetings.
Meet the Captains: Senior guards Jeff Kari and Mike Gruner are holding leadership roles for the 2009-10 season. Kari, who served as a co-captain last season, played in all 30 games as a junior, starting 27 and was second on the team in scoring. This season, the Lisle, Ill. native is averaging 9.4 ppg and 2.3 apg. Coming out of high school, Kari was an all-state selection at Lisle Senior High School where he set seven school records and was a two-way player on the football team (wide receiver and defensive back).
Gruner is averaging 7.4 ppg and leads the team with 51 assists (2.6 apg) and 32 steals (1.6 spg). He was a mainstay in the lineup the past two seasons. In 2008-09, he was the team's steadiest ballhandler, dishing out 61 assists to 44 turnovers for a 1.4 assist/turnover ratio and 196 points (8.2 ppg). Gruner is also a Marquis Scholar, the college's most prestigious academic scholarship. Coming out of Bethesda, Md., Gruner led his Walt Whitman high school squad to the Maryland 4A state title while earning Gazette Co-Player of the Year honors along with the NBA's 2007-08 Rookie of the Year Kevin Durant then of Montrose Christian.
SOLID START: The Leopards' 4-1 start was the best since 2003-04 when Lafayette began the season 6-1. Lafayette finished 18-10 that season.
LAFAYETTE VS. THE PATRIOT LEAGUE: Lafayette has played 644 games against the seven members of the Patriot League, and has a 350-294 record in all games against them. In Patriot League play, Lafayette is 108-152 in the regular season and 10-17 in the Patriot League Tournament. Under Fran O'Hanlon, the Leopards are 94-99 in conference regular-season play.
Holy Cross 15-30
SIX...IS GOOD: The Leopards had six players score in double figures against Hartford on Nov. 24. Jared Mintz led the way with 18, followed by Darion Benbow (career-high 15), Michael Gruner (13), Jim Mower (13), Jeff Kari (10) and Ryan Willen (10). The last time Lafayette had six players score in double figures, including all five starters, was Nov. 28, 2007 in an 81-69 win over Penn. Gruner is the only Lafayette player to have scored 10+ in both of those games.
THE HARDWOOD AND THE GRIDIRON: Lafayette's win over Penn on Jan. 3 marked the third time the Leopards defeated the Quakers in both football and basketball. The 77-62 victory over Penn combined with the 20-17 (OT) Lafayette football win at Fisher Stadium on Sept. 26, 2009, marked the third time the Leopards defeated Penn in football and basketball in the same season. In 2007, the basketball team defeated Penn 81-69 and defeated its football team 8-7. In 1999, football won 20-12 at Franklin Field and the basketball notched an 83-72 win.
FRESH FACES: Head coach Fran O'Hanlon added two new coaches to his staff this season. Pat Doherty is a familiar face to the Lafayette program, graduating from Lafayette in 2004. Doherty was an assistant coach at Williams College in 2008-09, helping lead Williams to a 17-9 overall record. In 2007-08 Doherty served as an assistant coach at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). Matt Blue holds down the final assistant coaching spot. Blue, a 2007 graduate of St. Lawrence comes to Lafayette after spending the 2008-09 season at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pa. He helped lead the Crusaders to an 18-8 overall mark and a 13-3 finish in the Landmark Conference.
BASKETBALL IQ: Lafayette placed a program-best three student-athletes on the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll during the 2008-09 season. The distinction recognizes those individuals who have earned a varsity letter and maintained a 3.2 GPA during the spring semester. Senior Michael Gruner and sophomores Rob Delaney and Andy Moore each earned a nod.
AROUND THE WORLD: Three international players are featured on the roster for tonight's matchup. Lafayette boasts three international players in Jared Mintz (Toronto, Canada), Marek Koltun (Krakow, Poland) and Deirunas Visockas (Lithuania).
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 2,403 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.
ON THE RADIO: The road games of the 2009-10 Lafayette men's basketball season will air on WSAN-AM 1470 "The Fox." Entering his 43rd season as the radio voice of Lafayette athletics, Dick Hammer will continue to call the play-by-play action. Joining Hammer courtside for most contests will be Lafayette Sports Information Director Phil LaBella.
LAFAYETTE ON TV: The Leopards will have 13 of their regular-season games televised during the 2009-10 season. The Leopards will also lead the Patriot League with seven nationally-televised games, as MASN (available through both DIRECTV and DISH Network) will air Lafayette's entire slate of home league contests on a tape-delay basis. Emmy-nominated local sports broadcaster Gary Laubach will handle all of Lafayette's play-by-play duties for the 13th straight season. Former Lafayette men's basketball coach John Leone will provide color analysis for the 11th season.