Feb. 19, 2010
Easton, Pa. -
GAME 27 February 21, 2010
Matchup: Lafayette (15-11, 6-5) vs. Lehigh (17-9, 8-3)
Tip-off: 2 p.m.
Site: Easton, Pa.
Arena: Kirby Sports Center (3,500)
Radio: Road games only on 1470 AM
TV: CBS College Sports (Bob Socci, John Feinstein)
Internet: LSN All-Access on GoLeopards.com
Series: Lafayette leads 137-74
First Meeting: 01/27/1902 LU 46, LC 13 in Bethlehem
Last Meeting: 01/23/10 LU 75, LC 57 in Bethlehem
Last Lehigh Win: Same
Last Laf. Win: 2/22/09 LC 68, LU 66 in Bethlehem
Fran O'Hanlon vs. Lehigh: 19-12
MATCH UP: Lafayette (15-11, 6-5) hosts archrival Lehigh (17-9, 8-3) on Sunday in the 212th series meeting. The game will be televised live nationally by CBS College Sports. The Leopards are coming off a 78-67 loss to Bucknell on Wednesday while Lehigh beat Colgate 91-81.
SENIOR SEND OFF: Lafayette will honors its three seniors, Michael Gruner, Jeff Kari and Marek Koltun, prior to tip on Sunday.
100 AND STILL GOING: 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 is celebrating 100 years on Sunday. All former players have been invited to return for the weekend and participate in events including a pre-game brunch and halftime recognition.
THE BIG MAN'S STATUS: With all due deference to Clarence Clemons, who is known to Bruce Springsteen and E Street Band fans as "The Big Man," Lafayette fans are more concerned with the health of their own Big Man, Jared Mintz. The Leopards' leading scorer and rebounder missed the game on Wednesday at Bucknell due to an ankle injury sustained in practice on Monday. If all goes well with his recovery, he is expected to at least play limited minutes on Sunday.
SOUTING LEHIGH: Lehigh (17-9, 8-3) sits alone in first place in the Patriot League standings. The Mountain Hawks have won their last two games, beating Army (78-66) and Colgate (91-81) with their last loss coming to Navy (85-78) on Feb. 10. Navy accounts for two of Lehigh's three conference losses (Bucknell).
Lehigh has an experienced squad, but freshman C.J. McCollum is leading the team in scoring (17.7 ppg). The shoe-in for conference rookie of the year had 22 points at Colgate, equaling his league average.
McCollum's backcourt mate, senior Marquis Hall is a two-time All-Patriot League selection. He leads the team and is second in the Patriot League with 5.7 assists per game. He is also third on the team in scoring (10.8 ppg), as one of four players averaging double figures. Senior Dave Buchberger (5.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg) has started 25 games and junior Michael Ojo (6.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg) has also played in every game.
Up front, the Mountain Hawks are guided by senior All-Patriot League selection Zahir Carrington who is the team's top rebounder (6.6 rpg) and contributes 11.0 ppg. Freshman forward Gabe Knutson has also been a significant contributor (10.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg).
Lehigh is coached by Brett Reed (Eckerd '95) who is in his fourth season (46-38).
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 season. Mintz is shooting 57.8% from the floor (first in the Patriot League), ahead of Colgate's Yaw Gyawu at 51.7%. Mintz is shooting 88.5% from the line, trailing only Navy's Chris Harris (88.8%) by a slim margin.
WE GO AS WE SHOOT: There is a definite correlation between Lafayette's shooting percentage and its team's success in 2009-10. Lafayette is 13-0 when shooting 45% or better from the field and 2-11 when shooting 44% or worse.
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 5-8 on the road.
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.
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: The adage says that it is hard to win on the road in conference play, and the Leopards found it even tougher on Wednesday without leading scorer Jared Mintz in the lineup. Bucknell won a 78-67 decision in a battle of second-place teams. Lafayette had two players in double figures led by Jim Mower with 12 points and Michael Gruner with 10. Bucknell's freshman center Jack Muscala had 23 points and 11 rebounds.
NEXT UP: Lafayette takes to the road for its final two games of the regular season, traveling to Army on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. tip and American on Feb. 27 at 2 p.m.
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 (46%).
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 in which he has played.
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 209-221 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.
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%).
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. The Leopards also own a four-game and a three-game losing streak.
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 72.8 points per game at home and 69.8 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 last two games in which Mintz played, 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 430th 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 a minimum of four games remaining on the 2009-10 ledger, Lafayette has improved its season win total by seven following an 8-22 campaign in 2008-09.
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 (383/339) 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 12.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per game in the Leopards' Patriot League games and is third on the team in scoring and second in rebounding in those games.
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 11 assists on 22 baskets (50%) at Bucknell.
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 with 12 points at Bucknell.
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 (55/24).
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 11.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game and has 44 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 third on the team in steals (24) (12th 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 23 games while averaging 1.3 points and 0.8 rebounds per game. A 6-9 forward, Giese comes from Tulsa, Okla. and brings solid perimeter skills. Giese played 18 minutes with two three-pointers and five rebounds at Bucknell.
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 9.5 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 7.3 ppg and leads the team with 64 assists (2.5 apg) and 42 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 650 games against the seven members of the Patriot League, and has a 352-298 record in all games against them. In Patriot League play, Lafayette is 110-156 in the regular season and 10-17 in the Patriot League Tournament. Under Fran O'Hanlon, the Leopards are 96-103 in conference regular-season play.
Holy Cross 15-31
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 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 is carrying Sunday's game with Bob Socci and John Feinstein calling the action.