Lafayette Tangles With Penn State In Nationally-Televised Game
Dec. 19, 2008
GAME 10 December 21, 2008
Matchup: Lafayette (2-7) at Penn State (9-2)
THE MATCHUP: Lafayette makes its national television debut on Sunday when the Leopards travel to Penn State at 4 p.m. for the first time in seven years. Lafayette is coming off of an 83-70 loss to Robert Morris while the Nittany Lions have enjoyed an eight-day hiatus since their 61-56 win over Mount St. Mary's on Dec. 13.
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 2,382 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.
LAST TIME OUT: Senior guard Andrew Brown scored a season-high 30 points -- just four points shy of his career high -- but even his hot hands couldn't will the Lafayette men's basketball team to victory in an 83-70 decision to Robert Morris (5-5) on Wednesday night. Brown was responsible for 21 of Lafayette's 36 points at the half, converting 6-of-9 from behind the arc. Though the Leopards were able to hang around and inch to a single-digit deficit with 8:50 remaining, the Colonials' timely baskets secured their lead throughout the game and the win.
THRIVING WITH THIRTY: Andrew Brown's 30-point production against Robert Morris was the fourth such game of his career. Brown first drained 30 points as a sophomore on Jan. 20, 2007, at archrival Lehigh. He accomplished the feat twice as a junior, scoring 32 at Mount St. Mary's on Dec. 21, 2007, before notching his career high against Army (34 points) on Jan 30, 2008.
WELCOME BACK, GRUNER: Junior Michael Gruner looked like his old self against Robert Morris, tallying a season-high 11 points and four rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench. The guard, who sat out six games with a thigh contusion, returned to the court in Lafayette's previous outing at Fordham with a five-minute stint. 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.
ABOUT PENN STATE: Penn State (9-2) is in the middle of a six-game homestand, and home-court advantage definitely comes into play at the Bryce Jordan Center. The Nittany Lions posted a 13-4 home record last season (.765), equaling the highest win total in the arena's 12-year history. Penn State has picked up where it left off last year, boasting a 6-1 record in 2008-09. The Nittany Lions know how to take care of the ball. They rank fourth in the country for turnovers (10.7 per game) and 10th for assist/turnover ratio (1.4). Penn State returns two of its top three scorers from last season (sophomore Jamelle Cornley and senior Talor Battle) and seven players that started at least 12 games. Three players average double figures in scoring: Battle (19.4), Cornley (14.8) and senior Stanley Pringle (13.6). Cornley also leads the team in rebounding with 7.2 per game. The Nittany Lions are coached by PSU alum Ed DeChellis ('82), who holds a 66-94 record in his six years at the helm. Penn State holds a 22-0 record versus Patriot League teams.
SERIES NOTES: This is Lafayette's 15th all-time meeting with Penn State. The Leopards travel to State College for the first time in seven years and look to snap a four-game losing streak to the Nittany Lions, dating back 27 years.
BEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE FREE: The Leopards converted 15-of-18 (83.3 percent) from the free throw line against the Colonials - their best showing of the season to date. Brown made all seven of his attempts and is the team's most consistent free throw shooter at 78.6 percent. Lafayette is shooting 71.5 percent (128 of 179) from the charity stripe for the season, ranking second in the Patriot League.
BEHIND THE ARC: Through games of Dec. 14, 2008, Lafayette was ranked 31st in the nation for its 8.6 three-pointers per game. Thanks in part to Andrew Brown's performance on Wednesday (seven treys), Lafayette increased that number to 8.7. At the end of the 2007-08 season, the Leopards ranked fifth in the nation for their 10.0 three-pointers made per game. Jeff Kari and Brown rank in the top 10 in the Patriot League for their three-point field goal percentage. Kari's 43.2 percent ranks sixth while Brown's 36.4 percent sits at 10th. Brown leads the conference with 3.1 treys per game.
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). As a result, Brown is climbing the all-time career scoring and assists record. This season, his 141 points have catapulted him from 35th to 21st among career scoring leaders. His 1,172 career points recently surpassed Bob Falconiero '80, and he needs five more to take over the 20th spot currently occupied by Mike Whitman '82 (1,176 pts). With his three assists against Robert Morris, Brown increased his total to 34 for the season and 297 for his career to tie Jay Mottola '72, moving into tenth place. He needs nine more to pass Tim Bieg '01 (305) and claim the ninth spot on the list.
NEXT UP: The Leopards return to Easton for a three-game homestand, beginning on Dec. 28 against Towson at 1 p.m. Then, Lafayette will host Princeton on Dec. 30 at 7 p.m. and Mount St. Mary's after the New Year on Jan. 2 at 1 p.m.
ON THE SIDELINE: The all-time winningest coach in Lafayette history and the longest tenured coach in the Patriot League, Fran O'Hanlon (Villanova, '70) is in 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 became the winningest coach in Lafayette history and now holds an all-time record of 188-195 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.
KEEP IT UP, KARI: Junior guard Jeff Kari never seems satisfied with his career highs. He has either set or tied his career high in points in five games this season. He set his career high with 15 points in the season opener at Wagner. He reset his career high against Stony Brook with 16 points, and again hit for 16 points against Temple. He then bested that mark with a 21-point performance against Rider. Kari isn't just a scoring threat. He tied his career high in assists (seven) against Hartford and grabbed a career high in rebounds (nine) against Rider. In the Rider and Temple games, he led the team in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals. Kari is averaging 15.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game and is second on the team in both categories.
THE FIRST TIME SINCE THE LAST TIME: Lafayette achieved a few notable feats at Hartford on Dec. 4. With his season-high six treys, Andrew Brown became the first player to score at least five three-pointers in a game since he achieved the feat with five against American on Feb. 2, 2008. Brown struck again on Wednesday by besting his season high with seven treys. As for the team, the Leopards hit at least 15 three-pointers for the first time as a unit since they hit 17 at Pittsburgh on Jan. 2, 2008. Those 17 treys set a season high and were the most allowed by a Panther opponent in the program's history. Lafayette's 21 assists on Dec. 4 also marked the first time the team dished out 20+ assists since it recorded 21 assists against Army on Jan. 30, 2008.
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 leading scorer (15.7 ppg). He has played in 96 games in his career. Kari played in 30 games in his first season on College Hill after transferring from East Carolina and is one of the most improved players in the league. After averaging 4.0 ppg and 1.7 rpg in 2007-08, he is now averaging 15.2 ppg and 4.6 rpg.
WELCOME TO COLLEGE: Head coach Fran O'Hanlon hasn't been afraid to use the seven members of his freshman class this season. Ryan Willen, Jim Mower and Alex Orchowski have played in all nine games, while Nick Petkovich has played in eight, J.D. Pelham seven, and Rob Delaney (with one start) and Andy Moore six apiece. Four of the seven appeared in the Leopards' season opener at Wagner and 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. The rookie sank both free throws, making it a two-possession game. Willen finished with seven points and three rebounds.
CAREER DAY: Even though the Leopards couldn't pull out a win against Central Connecticut State, several players had impressive individual performances. Guards Jeff Kari (23 pts), Ben Wheeler (8 pts) and Jim Mower (8 pts) all tallied career highs. In addition to his eight points, Wheeler also dished out six assists, besting his previous high of three. As for season highs, guard Andrew Brown notched his second-straight game of six assists, two shy of his career best. He also swiped three steals. Center Marek Koltun scored a season-high six points. As a team, Lafayette committed a season-low 13 turnovers. It was the squad's fewest miscues since Feb. 27, 2008, when Lafayette turned it over 12 times against Army.
LAFAYETTE ON TELEVISION: The Leopards have 15 games televised at home. Fourteen 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.
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 a 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. This season, Brown has 34 assists through nine games (3.8 apg). 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 has continued that trend five times this season, averaging 15.7 ppg. 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 hit for 83 percent. He reached the line a career-high 10 times in the season opener, connecting on eight, and is shooting 78.6 percent this season. 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.
SEEING DOUBLE: Freshman Ryan Willen seems to be adjusting to college just fine. The Cape Girardeau, Mo. native posted a double-double against Stony Brook (11/18), tallying 15 points and 10 rebounds. It was the first double-double performance since Feb. 23, 2008, when Bilal Abdullah '08 tallied 19 points and 13 rebounds against Lehigh. Willen's performance was the first double-double by a freshman since Abdullah achieved the feat on Jan. 13, 2005, posting 21 points and 10 rebounds. Two games later against Rider, he nearly tallied another double-double with 13 points and nine rebounds. Willen leads the team in rebounding with 5.4 boards per game and is the fourth-leading scorer with 7.8 points per game.
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 (nine), most three-point field goal attempts in a season (247) and most treys made in a season (99). After sinking 28 treys this season, he now has 248 three-pointers to his name and needs 24 more to break the career record held by Tyson Whitfield '01.
LOOKING BACK: The last time Lafayette started off the season with a 2-0 record was in 1998-99. In that season, the Leopards defeated Dartmouth, 56-41, and Princeton, 63-47. Lafayette went on to earn a 22-8 record, including a 10-2 record in the Patriot League, and secured a berth to the NCAA Tournament after winning its first Patriot League championship (against Bucknell). Even more impressive, Lafayette achieved all that success despite losing the preseason Player of the Year Stefan Ciosici for the entire season and the 1997-98 Rookie of the Year Tyson Whitfield for seven games in the middle of the conference schedule.
D.C. DANDIES: Though players from 11 states and three countries are represented on Lafayette's roster, the Leopards do have a preference 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.
THE PRESEASON POLL: Lafayette was picked eighth in the Patriot League Preseason Poll voted on by the conference head coaches and sports information directors. Defending champion American was selected to repeat followed by Lehigh, Holy Cross, Colgate, Bucknell, Navy and Army.
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.
IN THE RANKS: Seven of Lafayette's non-conference 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 non-conference 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 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 earned the nod.
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 will be Lafayette Sports Information Director Phil LaBella.
Lafayette Athletics, as a partner in the mission of the College, provides an incredibly effective learning experience for student-athletes through competitive NCAA Division I athletics. Lafayette sponsors 23 varsity sports with more than 600 student-athletes.Mission Statement | Leopard Tradition | Staff Directory | Feedback | Ask the AD
The Lafayette Sports Network (LSN) handles all multimedia elements and advertising sales for athletics at Lafayette College. LSN is the Patriot League leader in delivering high-quality programming worldwide via television, radio, streaming video and satellite.Advertising and Sponsorships | Digital Media | LSN TV & Radio Affiliates