Feb. 16, 2010
February 17, 2010
Matchup: Lafayette (15-10, 6-4) at Bucknell (11-15, 6-4)Tip-off: 7 p.m.
MATCH UP: Lafayette (15-10, 6-4) and Bucknell (11-15, 6-4), two of the three teams tied for second place in the Patriot League standings, will meet on Wednesday at Sojka Pavilion. The Leopards have never won at the venue which opened in 2002-03. Lafayette is coming off an 83-77 win over Navy on Saturday while Bucknell beat Holy Cross 68-63 on Sunday.
FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING?: There is still plenty of basketball to be played, but Jared Mintz has a chance to become the first Patriot League player to lead the league in free throw and field goal percentage in the same seasom. Mintz is shooting 57.8% from the floor (first in the Patriot League), ahead of Lehigh's Gabe Knutson at 51.7%. He is shooting 88.5% from the line, trailing only Navy's Chris Harris (88.6%) by a slim margin.
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.
AT HOME: 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. Lafayette has responded, registering a 10-3 mark at Kirby Sports Center. Lafayette is 5-7 on the road.
ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT: Senior guard Michael Gruner has been named to the ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-District II Men's Basketball First Team, the only Patriot League player to achieve the honor. Gruner holds a 3.63 GPA while majoring in Economics & Business. Coming to Lafayette from Walt Whitman High School, Gruner was named a Marquis Scholar, the highest academic award given by Lafayette. To be eligible for selection, a student-athlete must be a starter or key reserve while maintaining a minimum GPA of 3.3. District winners will be placed on a national ballot to compete for spots on the Academic All-America Team.
AT THE LINE: Lafayette is ranked seventh in the nation (2/14) and first in the Patriot League in free throw percentage (76.0). The Leopards made all 19 of their free throws against Colgate, the best mark in the nation (as of Feb. 7), topping Kentucky's 18-of-18 effort from Dec. 19.
LAST TIME OUT: Jared Mintz led the Leopards with 23 points and nine rebounds in a 83-77 win over Navy on Saturday at Kirby Sports Center. In a crucial stretch in the second half, Mintz scored nine straight points. He finished the game 9-for-9 from the line for the fourth time this season. Co-captain, Jeff Kari, scored a season-high 19 points, netting 3-of-4 from the three-point range while Jim Mower added 16 points on 4-of-6 from downtown. The Leopards had 30 points off the bench in a game that featured 16 lead changes.
NEXT UP: Lafayette hosts Lehigh on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Kirby Sports Center when Lafayette will play in front of a national television audience on CBS College Sports and the Leopards will celebrate 100 years of Lafayette basketball.
NCAA INDIVUDAL RANKINGS: The latest national rankings (2/14) show Jared Mintz ranked 10th in the country in field goal percentage (58%) and 21st in the country in free throw percentage (89%). Sophomore Jim Mower is fifth nationally for three-point field goal percentage (47%).
MINTZ=CONSISTENCY: Junior Jared Mintz has been the mark of consistency for the Leopards in 2009-10. He has scored in double figures in 21 of 25 games.
NATIONWIDE: The Lafayette vs. Lehigh game on Feb. 21 will be televised live on CBS College Sports Network. The game will be carried through the Patriot League's television package as the first "flex" game on the schedule. Bob Socci and John Feinstein will call the action.
STREAKING: Lafayette had a season-long six-game winning streak snapped at Lehigh (1/23). In that span, the Leopards beat Bucknell, Navy, Colgate, Holy Cross, Columbia and Penn. Lafayette also managed two three-game winning streaks earlier in the season. Lafayette is currently in the midst of three-game losing streak, the first time the Leopards have lost three in a row since Nov. 30 through Dec. 6 when they lost to La Salle, Princeton and St. Peter's.
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. Lafayette will celebrate its 100th season with events on Sunday, Feb. 21 surrounding the Leopards' 2 p.m. game vs. Lehigh.
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 209-220 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.
ABOUT BUCKNELL: The Bison have been playing some of the Patriot League's best basketball as of late, winning five of their last six games, including victories over Colgate, Lehigh, Army, American and Holy Cross with Navy the lone blemish in that span.
The Bison's leading scorer is junior guard Darryl Shazier (10.4 ppg) who is coming off a career-best 27 points in the five-point win over Holy Cross on Sunday. He has started all 26 games and leads the team with 3.7 assists per game.
Freshman guard Bryson Johnson averages 9.3 ppg and is the team leader with 53 three-pointers, despite primarily playing off the bench. He is also the squad's best free throw shooter, converting 88 percent (56-of-64). Sophomore Bryan Cohen (8.7 ppg) has started all but three games.
Senior guard/forward Stephen Tyree has started every game and leads the team in rebounding (5.1 rpg) and is second in steals behind Shazier (1.0 spg).
Up front, the Bison receive consistent play from senior forward Patrick Behan (9.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg) and freshman Mike Muscala (9.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg). Behan is the top shot blocker in the league with 54 blocks, 13 more than his nearest competitor.
Bucknell head coach Dave Paulsen (Williams '87) is 18-39 in two seasons in Lewisburg and 280-158 overall in 16 seasons.
LIVE BY THE THREE...DIE BY THE THREE: Lafayette is 69th in the nation (as of 2/14) in three-point field goal percentage (36.8) and 47th for three-pointers made per game (7.7), but just 330th of 334 teams for three-point field goal percentage defense (40.0%).
MINTZ, FROM THE FLOOR: Junior forward Jared Mintz has been the Leopards' leading scorer from the outset of 2009-10. The Toronto, Ontario native has been an efficient scorer. Mintz is currently shooting 58 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 even more efficient when he gets to the free throw line. Mintz is shooting a team-best 89 percent, making 123-of-139 attempts. Mintz shot a perfect 10-of-10 from the line in a win against Army (1/27). 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, 8-of-9 at Navy and 7-of-7 at home versus Colgate. In his most recent game against Navy, Mintz shot 9-for-9 from the line. Mintz is currently second in the Patriot League in free throw shooting.
IF YOU'RE SCORING AT HOME...: Lafayette is averaging 75.4 points per game at home and 70.0 ppg on the road.
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 on Jan. 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). In the Leopards' last two outings, he has finished a rebound shy of his sixth career double-double. Against Navy, he had 23 points and nine boards..
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 429th 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).
SO FAR, SO GOOD: With 15 wins and a minimum of five games remaining on the 2009-10 ledger, Lafayette has surpassed its season win total for all of 2008-09 (8-22).
HANDLING THE BALL: Lafayette boasts a positive season assist/turnover ratio for the first time since 2000-01 (+1.03 434/422). Lafayette is +1.14 (372/326) this season. Lafayette had a 1:1 assist/turnover ratio in 2003-04 (429/429).
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 LEAGUE PLAY: Ryan Willen is contributing 13.2 points and 5.0 rebounds per game in the Leopards' Patriot League games and is third on the team in scoring and second in rebounding.
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.
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.
A HELPING HAND: Lafayette has dished out assists on 61 percent of its baskets in the 2009-10 season. At Holy Cross, Lafayette had 14 assists on 16 buckets (88%), the Leopards' worst shooting night all season. That assist percentage mark topped 22 assists on 26 buckets (85 percent) at St. Francis, N.Y. 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 its last outing, Lafayette had 16 assists on 25 baskets (64%).
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 every game since. 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. In his last outing, Mower led the team with 21 points, including four three's and 5-of-5 from the line. The Harleysville, Pa. native is second on the team in scoring with 13.4 ppg in 26 minutes per game. The number that stands out the most for Mower is his assist/turnover ratio which is +2.3 (54/23).
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 11.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game and has 43 assists. Willen had a career-high 27 points against Columbia when he 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 34 assists to 27 turnovers, solid numbers for a freshman who has been asked to handle the ball often. Johnson is also second on the team in steals (24) (ninth in the Patriot League). 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). He has missed the last three games due to an ankle injury. Fellow first-year player Levi Giese has seen action in 22 games while averaging 1.0 points and 0.6 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 .
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 9.6 ppg and 2.2 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 7.2 ppg and leads the team with 63 assists (2.5 apg) and 40 steals (1.7 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 649 games against the seven members of the Patriot League, and has a 352-297 record in all games against them. In Patriot League play, Lafayette is 110-155 in the regular season and 10-17 in the Patriot League Tournament. Under Fran O'Hanlon, the Leopards are 96-102 in conference regular-season play.
American 16-25 Army 35-22 Bucknell 85-59 Colgate 39-46 Holy Cross 15-31 Lehigh 137-74 Navy 25-40SIX 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: Five 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). Bucknell's roster includes Bryson Johnson (Pictou, Nova Scotia) and Probese Leo (Nassau, Bahamas).
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 six of Lafayette's 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.
CBS College Sports will carry Lafayette vs. Lehigh live on Feb. 21 with Bob Socci and John Feinstein calling the action.
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