Leopards Set for Trip to No. 17 Louisville

Go Leopards! Senior Sean Knitter leads Lafayette with 12 ppg as the Leopards' sixth man.
Senior Sean Knitter leads Lafayette with 12 ppg as the Leopards' sixth man.

Dec. 2, 2004

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Match Up: Lafayette (1-3) at No. 17 Louisville (3-1)
Tip: Noon EST
Site: Louisville, Ky.
Arena: Freedom Hall (18,865)
Series: First Meeting
Radio: WEST-AM 1400, www.goleopards.com
Dick Hammer
TV: WDRB-TV
Gary Montgomery, Junior Bridgeman

THE STORY LINE: Lafayette travels to No. 17 Louisville for the Cardinals' home opener at Freedom Hall. The Leopards were 1-3 in November, while Louisville was 3-1 and played all four games in Hawaii. It is the first meeting between the two schools, and Lafayette's first game against a ranked team since playing No. 5 Temple on March 17, 2000. Lafayette, the 15th seed in the East Region, fell to the Owls 73-47 in Buffalo. It was the Leopards' second straight, and most recent, appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

LAST TIME OUT: Four Leopards came off the bench to score in double figures, led by a career-high 14 points from freshman Matt Betley, but Drexel came away with a 78-67 win over Lafayette in non-conference play on Tuesday night at Kirby Sports Center. Phil Goss led Drexel with 26 points, including five three-pointers, and sparked a critical 9-0 run which gave the Dragons a 57-49 lead with 11:58 left. Lafayette would only get as close as six the rest of the way. Sean Knitter (13), Andrei Capusan (12) and Bilal Abdullah (10) complemented Betley's career-high 14 points and seven rebounds.

THE STARTING FIVE: With the graduation of four senior starters who started at least two seasons apiece for Lafayette, the 2004-05 starting lineup has a much younger look. Sophomore Marcus Harley runs the show from the point guard position and has been joined in the backcourt by junior Pat Betley. Betley is the Leopards' only returning starter, having played in 25 of Lafayette's 28 games a season ago. Sophomore Jamaal Hilliard has taken up the third guard spot in the Leopards' three-guard motion offense. In the frontcourt, another sophomore, Jamaal Douglas, has cemented himself at one of the forwards and has been partnered with senior co-captain, center Jamie Hughes. Junior forward Andrei Capusan replaced Hughes in the starting lineup on Saturday, Nov. 27 vs. Princeton, while freshman guard Paul Cummins garnered a start on Tuesday against Drexel when Betley (shin injury) was unable to play.

ON THE SIDELINE: Two-time Patriot League Coach of the Year Fran O'Hanlon (Villanova, '70) is in his tenth season as the Leopards' mentor. He has twice led Lafayette's non-scholarship program to the NCAA Tournament and lays claim to three Patriot League regular-season titles among his credentials. O'Hanlon's career record stands at 142-120, a mark that includes two 20-win seasons.

COMING UP: The Leopards will continue their road trip, playing at Cornell on Dec. 6 and Marist on Dec. 10 before finally returning home on Dec. 13 to play Cal State Northridge. Lafayette has won seven of its nine match-ups with Cornell in the Fran O'Hanlon era. The Leopards last played Marist in 2000-01, and lost to CSUN in the series' only meeting in California last December.

ON THE BOARDS: The Leopards did the job on the boards in their first three games. In the season opener, Lafayette out-rebounded Duquesne 39-36 thanks to strong rebounding performances from Sean Knitter (8) and Andrei Capusan (8). At St. Peter's, the rebounding was even between the two teams (38-38) with Knitter accounting for eight boards and Jamaal Douglas seven. The Leopards held a 29-27 edge on the boards against Princeton, as Marcus Harley had six rebounds from his guard spot.

DEFENDING THEIR TURF: In the friendly confines of Kirby SportsCenter, Lafayette cruised to an 11-2 record at home last season. Throughout the O'Hanlon regime, the Leopards sport a home record of 93-31. This year, the Leopards have 13 home contests, but started the season 0-2 at Kirby.

FROM THE LINE: In the Leopards' season-opening win over Duquesne, Lafayette shot 81 percent from the free throw stripe, hitting 20-of-26 free throws in the second half after a 6-for-6 effort in the opening session. Jamaal Hilliard led the way with a perfect 10-for-10 day at the line. It was the first time since Jan. 23, 2004 (Justin DeBerry) that a Lafayette player had made 10 or more free throws.

CAPTAIN COMBO: Seniors Jamie Hughes and Sean Knitter have been selected as co-captains for the 2004-05. Knitter was one of the Leopards' top players off the bench last season and Hughes' role has increased steadily with his experience.

COACH "O" MOVES TO NO. 2: Fran O'Hanlon is the second winningest coach in Lafayette history with 142 victories. He needs just 29 wins to break George Davidson's record of 170 wins at Lafayette. In 2003-04, he surpassed Butch Van Breda Kolff who had 132 career wins.

YES, THEY'RE RELATED: Pat Betley, a junior guard, is being joined on the squad this season by his first cousin Matt Betley, the 2004 South Jersey Player of the Year. Pat is the Leopard's lone returning starter, and averaged 6.6 points per game last season. Matt dropped a career-high 14 points vs. Drexel on Tuesday.

THE EUROPEAN CONNECTION: Freshman Paul Cummins hails from Ireland and is the next player in a long line of European standouts recruited by Fran O'Hanlon. The list includes 1998 Patriot League Player of the Year Stefan Ciosici, Lafayette's all-time leading shot blocker Rob Dill, and current Leopard Andrei Capusan.

SUMMER SEASONING: Sophomore forward Jamaal Douglas and junior Andrei Capusan spent their summers playing for their home countries. Douglas played with the Bahamas National Under-21 team and Capusan competed with the Romanian Senior National team.

CLIMBING THE CHARTS: Senior Jamie Hughes enters the 2004-05 season ranked 15th in career blocks at Lafayette. Hughes needs just six blocks to crack the top ten.

BOMBS AWAY: Since taking over the Lafayette basketball program in 1995-96, Fran O'Hanlon has coached eight of the top ten three point shooters in school history. The latest addition to the O'Hanlon monopoly on the list is Marcus Harley, who needs to make just one three to break into the top 20 during his sophomore season. Harley also is a career 42.4 percent shooter from beyond the arc, which is the fourth highest percentage in Lafayette history. Harley hit four three's in a two-minute stretch early in the game vs. Duquesne and has hit a three in each game this season.

PATRIOT PRESEASON POLL: Lafayette has been picked to finish sixth in the Patriot League Preseason Poll. The Leopards are coming off an 18-10 season in which they finished one game out of first place in the Patriot League standings.

INJURY REPORT: Junior Pat Betley has been slowed by severe shin splints in both legs. Betley has recently been fitted with an air cast and played in the first three contests, but missed Tuesday's game against Drexel.

 

 

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