Men's Hoops Opens at GW Friday
| Lafayette at George Washington
|Date||Friday, Nov. 13, 2015 at 7 p.m.|
|Location||Washington, D.C. | Smith Center|
|Social Media||Twitter & Facebook|
Lafayette is 65-41 all-time in season openers, including a 23-23 mark in season-opening games on the road. The Leopards start the season on the road for the 18th time in head coach Fran O’Hanlon’s 21 seasons. During his tenure, Lafayette is 8-9 in season openers away from Kirby Sports Center and 9-11 overall on opening night.
Last season, the Leopards opened up at eventual Northeast Conference champion Robert Morris. The Leopards started strong, using a 36-16 halftime lead to cruise to a 77-50 victory.
KNOCKING OFF THE RUST
Lafayette played in two preseason scrimmages in preparation for the 2015-16 season. The Leopards hosted Rutgers on Oct. 31 and St. Francis (Pa.) on Nov. 7.
THE SKINNY ON G DUB
The Colonials went 22-13 and 10-8 in conference play a year ago, finishing their season in the second round of the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) after knocking off Pittsburgh in the opening stage. George Washington returns three starters and two-thirds of its scoring from a year ago, and was selected to finish fourth in the 14-team Atlantic 10 Preseason Poll. Seniors Patricio Garino and Kevin Larsen were Second-Team selections to the Preseason All-Conference Team and Garino also earned Preseason All-Defensive Team laurels.
LAFAYETTE VS. THE ATLANTIC-10
George Washington is the first of a pair of Atlantic-10 opponents Lafayette will face this season. The Leopards travel to Philadelphia, Pa, to battle with La Salle on Nov. 23. Lafayette holds a 2-0 mark against GW and an 11-34 record against La Salle.
Lafayette holds a 2-0 edge in an all-time series with George Washington that dates back to 1926. The Leopards took care of business on Jan. 14, 1926 by a 24-22 final and defeated the Colonials in the Garden State Classic in Trenton, N.J. on Dec. 30, 1971 by an 85-74 margin.
MANNING THE BENCH
Lafayette’s Fran O’Hanlon has posted 289 wins in his career in his 21st season on the sideline for the Leopards, while GW’s Mike Lonergan is in his 23rd season of coaching, holding a career overall mark of 446-216, going 69-60 in four seasons with the Colonials.
O’HANLON BEGINS 21st SEASON ON COLLEGE HILL
The all-time winningest coach in Lafayette and Patriot League history and longest-tenured coach in the conference, Fran O’Hanlon enters his 21st season as the Leopards’ head coach. A three-time Patriot League Coach of the Year, O’Hanlon has thrice led Lafayette’s program to the NCAA Tournament and lays claim to four Patriot League titles.
Senior Bryce Scott and junior Nick Lindner will take over the captaincy this season after the departure of Seth Hinrichs ’15, who was the team’s lone captain in 2014-15.
Scott, an El Dorado Hills, Calif. native, started 29 games for the Maroon and White during his junior year, averaging 8.3 points and 3.3 rebounds per contest. The senior currently sits 13th in the Lafayette record books for both career three-point field goals (140) and career three-point field-goal percentage (39.3%). Additionally, Scott has appeared in all but two games during his three seasons in Easton.
Joining Scott to lead this year’s squad is the reigning Patriot League Tournament MVP in Lindner. Lindner started 31 games a year ago at point guard and finished third on the team in scoring with 12.5 points per contest. A selection to the All-Patriot League Third Team and a Preseason All-Patriot League selection entering 2015-16, he led the league in free-throw percentage (85.0%) and assist/turnover ratio (2.6), and was second in assists with 5.2 helpers per game.
Lindner’s defining moment came in the tournament play last season when he averaged 23.7 points over three tournament games to lead the Leopards to their fourth league title. His 162 assists a year ago are good enough for a tie for third in school history, while he enters his junior year eighth in career free-throw percentage (82.1%), tied for 15th in career assists (286) and 17th in career three-point field-goal percentage (38.4%).
VETERAN-ROOKIE MIX ON THE SIDELINES
O’Hanlon’s sideline will feature some familiar faces as well as newcomers this winter. Pat Doherty returns for his seventh season and first as the program’s Associate Head Coach, while Matt Blue returns for his first season after five years as an assistant at Hartford. Blue served under O’Hanlon with the Maroon and White during the 2009-10 campaign. Additionally, Jimmy Fenerty comes to College Hill after two seasons as a graduate assistant manager at Temple and Conor Dow takes over as Director of Basketball Operations in his first year.
Lafayette has the tough task of replacing three 1,000-point scorers this season, including unanimous All-League First-Team selection Dan Trist ’15. Much of the success of that transition will hinge on the continued development of Matt Klinewski. As South Jersey’s leading scorer with 24.5 points per game at East Regional High School his senior season in 2013-14, Klinewski did not find points as easily during his rookie year on College Hill, putting up 3.1 points in an average of nine minutes per contest. A full offseason of work with the Lafayette coaching staff and a heavily increased role in terms of time on the floor and expected productivity should see those numbers increase.
Along with Klinewski are returning seniors Ben Freeland and Nathaniel Musters. Each gave the Leopards solid minutes at times last season, but will be called upon to provide effective play on both ends of the floor for longer periods of time this season and not just as two or three-minute holdovers when Trist needs a breather. Each of the 6-10 forwards had his share of solid performances last season, with Musters earning seven season-highs including four boards in Lafayette’s matchup at Bucknell on Jan. 7.
With the departure of three senior starters in Seth Hinrichs ’15, Dan Trist ’15 and Joey Ptasinski ’15, the starting lineup will likely be fluid in the early part of the season as head coach Fran O’Hanlon tries to find matchups. Nick Lindner, Bryce Scott and Matt Klinewski are likely going to be the three mainstays, but Nathaniel Musters, Ben Freeland, Paulius Zalys, Zach Rufer and Monty Boykins could likely all see starter minutes in the final two positions throughout the year.
Musters, Freeland and Zalys will compete for the second forward slot, while Rufer and Boykins will likely be interchangeable based on matchup or who has the hot hand. Each has shown, at times, to be starter-quality players, but O’Hanlon is looking for consistency from them this season. Rufer’s big-play ability was an important reason the Leopards were so successful last year and both shoot a good percentage from beyond the arc at 46.7 and 41.0 percent, respectively.