Men's Basketball Prepares for Home Opener
Nov. 17, 2008
GAME 2 Nov. 18, 2008
Lafayette vs. Stony Brook
Tip-Off: 7:00 p.m.
Site: Easton, Pa. - Kirby Sports Center
Radio: WSAN-AM Fox 1470; Dick Hammer (Play by Play), Phil LaBella (Color Analyst)
Internet: LSN All-Access
Series: Lafayette leads, 3-0
Last Meeting: LC 76, SB 68 (OT) Nov. 12, 2007 in Easton, Pa.
Last Lafayette Win: LC 76, SB 68 (OT) Nov. 12, 2007 in Easton, Pa.
THE MATCHUP: Lafayette holds a 3-0 all-time advantage over Stony Brook, though the margin of victory is always a close one. In their last three meetings, two have gone into over time and all have been decided by an average of 4.7 points.
LAST TIME OUT: Lafayette won its season opener on Friday night at Wagner, 73-67. With the victory, the Leopards start the season 1-0 for the first time since 2004-05. Senior guard Andrew Brown picked up right where he left off last season, leading the team in scoring (22 points) and assists (five). It was a career night for junior Jeff Kari and first-time starter Darion Benbow. Kari scored a new career-high 15 points while Benbow nearly tallied his first double-double with eight points and a team-high nine rebounds (both career highs).
WELCOME TO COLLEGE: Four of Lafayette's seven freshmen made it out on to the court Friday night. Ryan Willen played the most minutes (20) out of the group: Jim Mower (4), J.D. Pelham (4) and Alex Orchowski (1). Willen's clutch free throw shooting may have secured Lafayette's win. In the last four minutes, the Seahawks went on an 8-3 run, closing in on Lafayette's lead 70-67, before fouling Willen with 11.4 seconds remaining. With a rowdy group of Wagner fans doing their best to distract him, the rookie sank both free throws, making it a two-possession game. Willen finished with seven points and three rebounds in his first outing.
BRAVO, 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). With his 22 points in Friday's games, Brown creeped up Lafayette's career scoring record from 35th to 31st with 1,053 points.
FROM DOWNTOWN: Senior guard Andrew Brown's hot hands 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 (9), most three-point field goal attempts in a season (247) and most treys made in a season (99). After sinking four threes in Friday's win, he now has 223 three-pointers to his name and needs 49 more to break the career record held by Tyson Whitfield '01.
ON THE SIDELINE: The all-time winningest coach in Lafayette history and the second-longest tenured coach in the Patriot League, Fran O'Hanlon (Villanova, '70) enters 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. With a 75-71 double-overtime victory over Lehigh on Feb. 18, 2007, O'Hanlon's became the winningest coach in Lafayette history and now holds an all-time record of 187-188 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.
YOUTH GROUP: Nearly three-fourths of the Leopards squad is comprised of underclassmen for one of the youngest teams in the country. Eleven of the players are freshman and sophomore. Lafayette brought in its largest freshmen class (seven) during Fran O'Hanlon's 14 years as coach. On a side note, no two freshmen hail from the same state. In addition to the rookies, Lafayette also features four sophomores (Ben Wheeler, Deirunas Visockas, Darion Benbow and Jared Mintz).
FRESH FACES: Lafayette's coaching staff underwent some changes in the off-season, adding two new assistant coaches. Josh Loeffler steps in as O'Hanlon's top assistant after spending the last two seasons as head coach at the Stevens Institute of Technology. Loeffler guided Stevens to a share of the Empire 8 Conference regular season title last year and in 2006-07, led the team to an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Pershin Williams joins the Leopards after a one-year stint at the United States Merchant Marine Academy. He also spent two years at Georgia Tech as a grad assistant alongside current Lafayette assistant Pete Schwethelm.
D.C. DANDIES: Though players from 11 states and three countries are represented on Lafayette's roster, the Leopards do have a predilection 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.
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 top returning scorer (15.9 ppg). He has played in 88 games in his career. Kari played in 30 games in his first season on College Hill after transferring from East Carolina and earned his fourth start on Friday against Wagner.
AROUND THE WORLD: Did you know that six international players are featured between the two rosters of tonight's matchup? Lafayette boasts three international players in Jared Mintz (Toronto, Canada), Marek Koltun (Krakow, Poland) and Deirunas Visockas (Lithuania) while Stony Brook features Danny Carter (Windsor, England), Michal Zylinski (Monki, Poland) and Andrew Goba (Durban, South Africa). Koltun's and Zylinski's towns in Poland are roughly 309 miles a part.
NEXT UP: Lafayette continues its three-game homestand with an 8:30 p.m. matchup against Temple on Friday, marking the second time in three seasons that an Atlantic 10 team has ventured to Easton. The Leopards finish up the weekend with a 1 p.m. tipoff against Rider on Sunday.
THE PRESEASON POLL: Lafayette was chosen to finish eighth in the Patriot League Preseason Poll. The poll is voted on by the conference head coaches and sports information directors. Defending champion American was selected to repeat in 2009 followed by Lehigh, Holy Cross, Colgate, Bucknell, Navy and Army.
GRUNER GETS IT DONE: If junior Michael Gruner can pick up where he left off last season, the Leoaprds will be in pretty good shape. Gruner was a mainstay in the starting lineup last season after he worked his way into the rotation with his defense. He proved to be Lafayette's steadiest ballhandler, dishing out 72 assists to 46 turnovers for a 1.6 assist/turnover ratio. Gruner is also a Marquis Scholar, recipient of the most prestigious academic scholarship awarded to Lafayette students. Coming out of high school in Bethesda, Md., Gruner led his Walt Whitman 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 of Montrose Christian.
IN THE RANKS: Seven of Lafayette's nonconference 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 nonconference 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.
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 individuals 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 each earned the nod.
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 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. Brown can shoot the ball too. He averaged 9.3 ppg as a freshman when he hit 51 three-pointers and followed that by scoring 10.4 ppg while netting 69 three-pointers in his second season on College Hill. In 2007-08, Brown led the Leopards in scoring 14 times and continued that trend on Friday with a team-high 22 points against Wagner. Brown is stellar from the line. In his sophomore year, he shot 91 percent from the charity stripe, connecting on 42-of-46 attempts. Last season, Brown went to the line 82 times and connected on 82.9 percent of his shots. He reached the line a career-high 10 times on Friday, connecting on eight. Brown makes big shots. Last year at Stony Brook, Brown went 7-for-8 at the line with five of those makes coming in overtime. Brown was responsible for the tying baskets that sent the Stony Brook and UMBC games to overtime. At Mount St. Mary's, Brown's ninth three-pointer of the game came in overtime and gave Lafayette a 76-72 win. With 48 seconds left in overtime at Navy, a Brown three claimed the lead for the Leopards (97-94) before they went on to win it 103-99.
LAFAYETTE ON TELEVISION: The Leopards have 15 games televised broadcasted at home. Thirteen of the definite 14 telecasts will be produced by the Lafayette Sports Network (LSN). The Leopards will also garner national exposure on ESPNU when they visit Penn State on Dec. 21 for the first time in seven years and again when they travel to Bethlehem for a matchup against their archrival, Lehigh, in late February. Emmy-nominated local sports broadcaster Gary Laubach will handle all of Lafayette's play-by-play duties for the 12th straight season. Former Lafayette men's basketball coach John Leone will provide color analysis for the 11th season.
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.
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 for most contests will be Lafayette Sports Information Director Phil LaBella.
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