Men's Basketball Starts Eight-Game Road Trip at Rutgers

Go Leopards! Sophomore guard Michael Gruner
Sophomore guard Michael Gruner

Dec. 4, 2007

EASTON, Pa. -

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GAME 8 • December 4, 2007
Matchup: Lafayette (5-2) vs. Rutgers (5-2)
Tip-Off: 7:30 p.m.
Site: Piscataway, N.J.
Arena: Louis Brown Athletic Center (8,000)

Radio: WSAN-AM 1470, www.fox1470.com
Dick Hammer (play-by-play), Phil LaBella (analyst)

TV:Lafayette Sports Network (RCN-4, WBPH-60, SportsNet New York, DirectTV 625, Dish 438)
Gary Laubach (play-by-play), John Leone (analyst)

Webcast: LSN All-Access

AT A GLANCE: Coming off its fourth straight win, Lafayette (5-2) will take to the road for eight in a row. The Leopards take the short trip to Piscataway, N.J. to square off against Rutgers (5-2) on Wednesday night. The teams last met in 2003-04 and in 2000-01 prior to that.

LAST TIME OUT: Lafayette rolled past an overmatched NJIT squad 81-56 on Monday night. Every player who was in a Lafayette uniform scored at least two points led by 14 points from Bilal Abdullah and a dozen from Jeff Kari. Andrew Brown added nine points despite playing just seven minutes. The Leopards led 41-19 at halftime thanks to a pair of 13-0 runs in the first half. Lafayette shot 51 percent from the floor for the game, but was out-rebounded 39-33.

STREAKING: The Leopards have won four straight for the first time since the 2003-04 campaign when they rattled off seven in a row from Jan. 10 through Feb. 1. That season, Lafayette finished 18-10.

SWIFT START: The last time Lafayette started 5-2 was in the 1999-2000 campaign, a season in which the Leopards earned their second-consecutive NCAA Tournament berth.

ON THE STEAL: Lafayette's 15 steals vs. NJIT were a season-high and the most by a Patriot League team this season. The mark surpassed the 14 that Navy recorded vs. Longwood earlier in the year. The last time Lafayette recorded at least 15 steals was Feb. 15, 2006 vs. Bucknell.

ONE WIN FOR FIVE HUNDRED: Fran O'Hanlon coached his 350th game at Lafayette against Penn (11/28). The 81-69 victory evened his career record at 175-175.

PACK YOUR BAGS: The Leopards embark on their eight-game road trip, the longest stretch of road games since the 1984-85 season. Lafayette travels to face two Big East opponents (Rutgers and Pittsburgh) and one SEC contender (Mississippi State) awaits during the trip. The Leopards open the swing at Rutgers on Wednesday in a 7:30 p.m. tip-off. That game can be seen live on the Lafayette Sports Network, which includes SportsNet New York (DirecTV 625, Dish 438) for this telecast.

DIALING UP LONG DISTANCE: A big part of Lafayette's offense has been its perimeter play. The Leopards are averaging nearly 11 three-pointers per game (10.9) and have made 76 on the season. Coming into the week the Leopards were ranked fourth in the nation in three-pointers per game (10.8) and 37th in three-point shooting percentage (40.9). Andrew Brown ranks 37th in three's per game (3.2). Last season, Lafayette made a single-season record 256 three-pointers to finish 25th in the country in three-pointers per game (8.5 per game). The total snapped a seven-year old mark from 1999-2000 when Lafayette hit for 249 trifectas led by Tyson Whitfield's '01 single-season record of 91. This season, the Leopards are on pace to make 326 over the course of 30 games. At this point last season, Lafayette had converted 51 three-pointers. Lafayette hit eight three-pointers vs. Wagner, 10 at Stony Brook, a season-best 14 vs. Fairleigh Dickinson, 10 more vs. UMBC, 12 vs. Central Connecticut, 11 vs. Penn (11/28) and 11 vs. NJIT (12/3). For the season, Lafayette is shooting 42 percent from beyond the arc, and three-point attempts account for 46 percent of the Leopards' shots.

BIG MINUTES FOR THE FRESHMEN: The blowout win over NJIT afforded Lafayette head coach Fran O'Hanlon to get all of his freshmen significant playing time. The three healthy freshmen played a combined 55 minutes. Darion Benbow chipped in with eight points and two rebounds in a 20 minutes. Deirunas Visockas contributed nine points in 15 minutes before fouling out. Ben Wheeler saw his first collegiate playing time, logging 20 minutes with two points, two rebounds and two assists. Fellow rookie Jared Mintz has played in four games this season, but has missed the last three due to an ankle injury. He pulled down a critical offensive rebound and capitalized on both free throws against UMBC (11/20), giving Lafayette the 79-77 lead with two and half minutes remaining in overtime.

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) is in his 13th 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 became the winningest coach in Lafayette history and now holds an all-time record of 176-175 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 7, 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.

SENIOR FIVE: Lafayette will go as far as its corps of five seniors takes the squad in 2007-08. Bilal Abdullah, Matt Betley, Paul Cummins, Ted Detmer and Everest Schmidt will all play key roles, with three of the five expected to be in the starting lineup against Rutgers. As a group, the seniors have played in 438 games with 219 appearances in the starting lineup.

PASSING THE BALL: According to Lafayette head coach Fran O'Hanlon, a key to the Leopards' success has been sharing the ball in their motion offense. Lafayette is averaging 14.9 assists per game in contrast to its opponents who are doling out 10.4 assists per game. Lafayette has handed out an assist on 58 percent of its baskets. For what it's worth, Wednesday's opponent, Rutgers, has recorded an assist on 40 percent of its baskets.

SEASON HIGH (and low) FROM THE FLOOR: The Leopards shot a season-high 53 percent from the floor against Penn on Nov. 28. Lafayette made 30-of-57 attempts, topping the previous best shooting night (49 percent) vs. Central Connecticut State. By contrast, the Leopards shot a season-low 53 percent from the line (10-for-19) vs. Penn.

THE HARDWOOD AND THE GRIDIRON: Lafayette did something it hadn't done in 15 years with its 81-69 victory over Penn. The victory, combined with the 8-7 Lafayette football win at Franklin Field on Sept. 15, 2007, marked the first time the Leopards defeated Penn in football and basketball in the same season since 1991. In that year the football team won 20-12 at Franklin Field and the basketball team won 83-72.

JUST A LITTLE MORE TIME: Two of Lafayette's wins this season have taken an overtime period to decide the victor. At Stony Brook (11/12), Andrew Brown's jumper tied the game at 59-59 with 17 seconds left in regulation. The Leopards secured the 78-67 victory, forcing the Seawolves to foul while converting free throw opportunities into points. Brown was responsible for tying the game against UMBC with 49 seconds remaining, and the Leopards once again pulled away to win 87-84.

AN EARLY START: Lafayette's season opener on Nov. 9 marked the earliest start in program history. This season, Lafayette has played six games by Dec. 1. By contrast, in 1992-93, Lafayette did not open the season until Dec. 1. As recently as 2003-04, Lafayette did not open until Nov. 22.

MOVING ON UP: Junior Andrew Brown is ranked sixth all-time at Lafayette with 142 three-pointers and senior Paul Cummins (138) rests seventh on Lafayette's all-time list. Lafayette senior Ted Detmer is now 10th place on the career blocks list at Lafayette with 51.

WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU?: Andrew Brown can distribute the ball. The Littleton, Colo. native led the team in assists his first two seasons 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. This season, Brown has 18 assists through six games (2.6 apg) and again leads the team. 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. This season Brown has led the Leopards in scoring five times, scoring 21 points at Stony Brook (11/12), 18 against FDU (11/16), 15 vs. UMBC (11/20), 17 against CCSU (11/25) and 15 vs. Penn (11/28). Brown is averaging a team-best 15.6 points per game. Brown is solid from the line. Last season, he shot 91 percent from the free throw stripe, connecting on 42-of-46 attempts. This season, Brown has already been to the line 26 times and is shooting 89 percent from the foul line. Brown makes big shots. 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.

GRUNER GETS IT DONE: Sophomore Michael Gruner has been a mainstay in the starting lineup this season. Gruner worked his way into the rotation with his defense and has remained there because he handles the ball efficiently, doling out 17 assists to just nine turnovers while also chipping in with 8.1 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. The Bethesda, Md. native is a Marquis Scholar, the highest academic scholarship awarded to Lafayette students.

LEOPARD LEADERSHIP: Senior forward Matt Betley is serving as the team captain for 2007-08. Betley is the team's top returning scorer and rebounder and has played in 92 career games. Betley is averaging 9.4 points and a team-best 5.9 rebounds per game this season. The Mount Laurel, N.J. native posted his fourth career double-double vs. UMBC with 13 points and 11 boards and is coming off a five-point, five-rebound night vs. NJIT when he played just 16 minutes.

DEFENSIVE DETERMINATION: Lafayette was able to hold Central Connecticut State to 32 percent shooting from the field. Lafayette shut down preseason All-NEC selection Tristan Blackwood, who was averaging 15.8 points per game, allowing three points in 28 minutes.

ON THE BOARDS: Lafayette out-rebounded an opponent for the first time since Jan. 13, 2007 (Navy) when the Leopards snatched 44 rebounds to UMBC's 43 on Nov. 20. They continue to be out-rebounded by an average of 6.3 rebounds per game. After being out-rebounded 49-41 vs. Wagner and 48-29 vs. Stony Brook, the Leopards closed the gap to three (36-33) vs. Fairleigh Dickinson. Lafayette finished 319th out of 325 teams in Division I in rebounding margin in 2006-07, out-rebounded by an average of 6.3 rebounds per game.

FIVE DOUBLE-UP AGAINST UMBC (11/20): For the first time since Dec. 20, 2006 in an 89-80 victory over King's, five Leopards registered double figures in scoring. Andrew Brown led the effort with a team-high 15 points and was joined by Everest Schmidt's career-high 14. Matt Betley had his first double-double of the season with 13 points and added 11 rebounds. Jeff Kari and Michael Gruner had 11 and 10 points, respectively.

ASSIST/TURNOVER: This assist/turnover numbers do not always tell the entire story of a game. Lafayette committed 15 turnovers and dished off 12 assists and won an 87-84 decision over UMBC (11/20). By contrast vs. Fairleigh Dickinson (11/16), Lafayette dished out 22 assists on 30 baskets while committing just 14 turnovers. The Leopards lost that game 98-92. For the season, Lafayette has handed out 104 assists to 111 turnovers.

IN THE CLASSROOM: The Lafayette men's basketball team received the NCAA Public Recognition Award for recording an NCAA Division I Academic Progress Rate in the top 10 percent of all men's basketball teams. Lafayette College was also recognized by the NCAA for recording an 83 percent graduation rate, 20 percent better than the average federal graduation rates of all student-athletes. The information was collected from students entering Lafayette in 2000. Overall the Division I graduation rate for student-athletes in the fall of 2000 was 63 percent and the Patriot League conference have scored at least 20 percent better than the national average graduation rate for all student-athletes who have entered school from 1997-2000.

FDU HACKFEST: Lafayette's game vs. FDU (11/16) was the definition of a "hackfest," as the two teams were whistled for 57 fouls, 33 of which were handed out to Lafayette. Three Lafayette players (Brown, Abdullah, Betley) fouled out while one FDU player was also disqualified. FDU shot 46 free throws while Lafayette had 30 attempts.

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. Holy Cross was selected first in the poll followed by Bucknell, Colgate, Lehigh, American, Army and Navy.

OUT OF CONFERENCE: Lafayette is playing 15 non-conference games in 2007-08. Of that group, eight of the teams are picked to finish in the top five of their conference while one of Lafayette's opponents (NJIT) has no conference affiliation. Pittsburgh is currently ranked 9th in the ESPN/Coaches Poll and 12th in the top 25 in the Associated Press Poll.

PETE CARRIL RETURNS HOME: On Nov. 16 vs. Fairleigh Dickinson, National Basketball Hall of Famer and 1952 graduate of Lafayette Pete Carril returned to Lafayette to honor former Lafayette head coach Butch van Breda Kolff who passed away in September. Carril, who was an All-American during his Leopard playing days, went on to coaching stardom at Princeton and recently served as an advisor to the Sacramento Kings.

JOINING O'HANLON: The assistant coaching staff features two former Lafayette players in top assistant Drew Dawson '03 and third assistant Mike Farrell '04. Pete Schwethelm is the team's second assistant and comes to Lafayette from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) where he was an assistant coach with former Lafayette assistant coach and currently USMMA head coach, John Krikorian. The Lafayette staff is a young one with Dawson (28), Schwethelm (32) and Farrell (25). IN THE COMMUNITY: The Lafayette men's basketball team led by assistant coaches Drew Dawson and Mike Farrell finished first in their support of Juvenile Diabetes Research as they ran (not walked) the Manhattan JDRF Walk last month. Farrell, a type-1 diabetic, made a few calls and the Leopards answered. The entire team participated in the 12K walk through New York City.

REPRESENTING IRELAND: Senior Paul Cummins had the opportunity to represent his home country of Ireland this summer. He traded in his Maroon and White for the green of the Emerald Isle. Cummins competed with talented players from several different leagues around the world against other European teams. Ireland's squad went on to a third-place finish in the qualifying tournament after facing several teams with multiple NBA players.

HI, MY NAME IS...: Jeff Kari, who maintains sophomore eligibility after transferring from East Carolina University, is new on the Lafayette roster. Kari, who formerly went by Jeff Robinson, changed his name in 2007. Kari, one of the Leopards' top on-the-ball defenders, has already jumped into the backcourt mix, recently scoring a career-high 12 points vs. NJIT (12/3) while leading the team with five steals.

DETMER ON DEFENSE: Senior Ted Detmer has led Lafayette in steals the past two seasons, registering 34 in 2006-07 and 47 in 2005-06. He also finished with a career-high 23 blocks last season to lead the team and finish fifth in the Patriot League. Detmer had one steal, two blocks and grabbed five rebounds, including three defensive vs. CCSU (11/25). Against Penn (11/28), Detmer had three blocks and two steals.

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. Holy Cross was selected first in the poll followed by Bucknell, Colgate, Lehigh, American, Army and Navy.

BAND OF THIEVES: In 2006-07 Lafayette had three players rank in the top 15 in the Patriot League in steals. Ted Detmer (1.13 spg), Matt Betley (1.10 spg) and Bilal Abdullah (1.07 spg) all managed to pick their opponents for at least 30 steals. As a team, Lafayette ranked third in the Patriot League in steals in 2006-07 with 7.3 per game. In the season opener vs. Wagner, Lafayette managed just six steals, including two by Jeff Kari. Stealing six again, this time at Stony Brook, the Leopards were led by Michael Gruner grabbing three. Against Fairleigh Dickinson, Lafayette had a season-best nine steals, including three players (Abdullah, Betley, Detmer) with two apiece. Lafayette had just two steals vs. UMBC which committed only 11 turnovers. Andrew Brown had two of the Leopards' six steals vs. CCSU. Lafayette recorded a season-high 15 steals against NJIT, with Kari responsible for five.

MAKING THE TEAM GO?: It may be an oversimplification of Lafayette's play in 2006-07, but there was at least some correlation between Andrew Brown's play and the team's success. In Lafayette's nine wins, Brown averaged 13.1 points and 4.2 assists per game. By contrast, in Lafayette's 21 losses, he averaged 9.2 points and 2.5 assists per game. The statistical disparity hasn't held up in 2007-08, as Brown is contributing 16.0 points, 5.5 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game in Lafayette's two losses and 15.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game in the five wins.

HALF WAY THERE: Lafayette was 8-2 when holding a lead at halftime in 2006-07. The two exceptions were a 67-61 loss to Bucknell (1/20) when the Leopards were leading 29-27 at halftime and a 44-42 loss to Princeton (11/28) when Lafayette led 22-19 at the intermission. Lafayette was 1-19 when trailing at halftime. Lafayette has led at halftime three times this season (CCSU, Penn, NJIT) and has gone on to win each of those games.

THE O'HANLON SHUFFLE: The scorer's table has been a busy place during Fran O'Hanlon's 13 seasons at Lafayette. O'Hanlon will frequently shuffle in players to keep them fresh while also looking for the best matchups on both ends of the court. The moves also force the opponents to spend a great deal of time figuring out their own defensive matchups. O'Hanlon will often play "offense-defense" at the end of the first half and in the final minutes of the game whenever there is a stoppage of play and a chance to substitute. The Leopards have consistently gone 10 deep early in the season.

...IN A RELATED NOTE: In 2006-07, O'Hanlon used 13 different starting lineups. This season, four different starting fives have graced the floor at the opening tip.

THE GARBAGE MAN: Senior forward Matt Betley spends a lot of time cleaning the glass, diving for loose balls and occasionally even picking up a "garbage" basket in the paint. Betley is certainly willing to get his hands and body a little dirty by diving on the court, but it's nothing compared to his summer job in 2006. Betley collected garbage on a garbage truck in his hometown of Mount Laurel, N.J. As one of the scrappiest players in the Patriot League, Betley has determined that he is also one of the most hated opponents because of his style of play.

BENCH SCORING?: Lafayette received 63 percent (41.1 of the Leopards' 65.0 points per game) of its scoring from the starting five and 36 percent from the bench in 2006-07. In 2007-08, Lafayette is receiving 45.0 of its 79.7 points per game from the starting five, a 56 percent clip.

FROM THE LINE: Lafayette ranked 67th in the nation in free throw percentage in 2006-07, shooting 72.4 percent. Lafayette is shooting just 66.3 percent this season.

INSIDE-OUTSIDE: Senior Matt Betley made the move from guard to forward for the 2006-07 season to bolster the team's rebounding efforts, but was still certainly comfortable outside. With Fran O'Hanlon's motion offense, Betley often finds himself with open three-point looks and mid-range jumpers against larger post players who will back off into the lane. With 33 three-pointers, Betley was one of five Lafayette players who made 30 or more three-pointers in 2006-07. Betley has had a slow start from beyond the arc this season, shooting 9-of-26 (35%).

ALL-TIME AT LAFAYETTE: In the 98 seasons of men's basketball at Lafayette College, the Leopards hold an overall record of 1186-1050 (.531). Lafayette's first basketball season was in 1900-01 when the team had a winning record of 4-3.

LAFAYETTE ON TELEVISION: For the 11th straight season, Lafayette features the most expansive television package in the Patriot League. The Leopards have 13 games televised with the possible addition of three more televised games during the three rounds of the Patriot League Tournament. The Lafayette Sports Network will produce 12 of the 13 games that will air. Each of those broadcasts will air live regionally to more than 10 million viewers in the Lehigh Valley, Pocono region and all of Philadelphia on RCN-4 and WBPH-60. CSTV, Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh and MASN will continue as LSN national distribution partners, airing three telecasts. Emmy-nominated broadcaster Gary Laubach handles all of the Leopards' play-by-play duties, while former Lafayette men's basketball coach John Leone provides color commentary. Additionally, RCN's Dan Mowdy will provide sideline reports. The Leopards will also garner national exposure on ESPNU when they battle Pittsburgh in January and on SportsNet NY vs. Rutgers.

ON THE RADIO: The 2007-08 Lafayette men's basketball season will air on two of the top-rated AM stations in the Lehigh Valley, WGPA-AM 1100 and WSAN-AM 1470. Entering his 41st season as the radio voice of Lafayette athletics, Dick Hammer will continue to call the play-by-play action. Joining Hammer courtside for most road contests will be Lafayette Sports Information Director Phil LaBella. WSAN 1470 will broadcast 18 games, including seven of the team's first eight, while WGPA 1100 will handle six contests.

ON THE WEB: As an element of Lafayette's long-term agreement with CSTV, all LSN telecasts are streamed live on the internet an available world-wide through LSN All-Access on www.GoLeopards.com .

RANKED OPPONENTS: Since 1948-49, Lafayette has played 39 games against ranked opponents, coming away with a 3-36 record. Lafayette hosted Bucknell, ranked No. 24 in both the ESPN/USA Today and Associated Press top-25 polls on Feb. 25, 2006. Prior to that, the last time Lafayette hosted a ranked opponent was January 14, 1987 when No. 19 Navy came to Kirby Sports Center and escaped with a 75-71 win. The last time Lafayette beat a ranked opponent was Dec. 2, 1978 when Lafayette topped No. 16 Rutgers, 77-70. In 2004-05, Lafayette faced Louisville (17) and Georgia Tech (9) on the road.

INTERNATIONAL FLAVOR: Lafayette features four players from foreign countries. Senior Paul Cummins comes from Kildare, Ireland. Cummins spent two years at Ravenscroft School in Raleigh, N.C. before spending a post-grad year at South Kent School in Connecticut. Sophomore Marek Koltun hails from Krakow, Poland and spent a year in Bear, Del. at Caravel Academy. Freshmen Jared Mintz is from Toronto, Canada while Deirunas Visockas is originally from Kaunas, Lithuania and currently resides in Los Angeles.

NOTABLE NAMES FROM LAFAYETTE HOOPS: Some recognizable names in college basketball have been part of the Lafayette men's basketball program. Pete Carril '52 was an All-American at Lafayette before going on to coach Princeton to national prominence and recently serving as a Sacramento Kings' assistant coach. Tom Davis, former Iowa and Drake head coach, served the Lafayette's head coach from 1971-77. During that span, Lafayette made three NIT appearances and accumulated a record of 116-44. Current Maryland head coach Gary Williams served as Davis' assistant basketball coach and also spent time as the head men's soccer coach from 1971-76.

 

 

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