Nov. 29, 2008
Complete Game Notes in PDF Format
November 30, 2008
Matchup: Lafayette (2-3) at Central Connecticut State (1-3)
Tip-off: 2:00 p.m.
Site: New Britain, Conn.
Arena: William H. Detrick Gym (2,654)
Radio: WSAN-AM Fox 1470
Dick Hammer (Play-By-Play), Phil LaBella (Color Analyst)
THE MATCHUP: Lafayette continues its four-game road trip as it moves on to Central Connecticut State for a 2 p.m. tip on Sunday.
LAST TIME OUT: Senior guard Andrew Brown led the Leopards in scoring in his home-state debut, but Lafayette ultimately dropped its third straight game, losing 73-59 at Colorado. The Leopards fell behind 20-6 in the first seven minutes before Brown drained a three-pointer to send Lafayette on a 15-2 run. Lafayette pulled within one point, 22-21, after a pair of Jeff Kari free throws with less than three minutes remaining in the half.
Lafayette came out in the second half with three quick baskets by Kari and Jared Mintz, closing the gap to three points, but that was as far as Lafayette could cut into Colorado's lead.
KEEP IT UP, KARI: Tuesday's game against Colorado was the first time this season that junior guard Jeff Kari didn't reach his career high in points. Kari scored nine points in the contest and still leads the Leopards in scoring with 15.4 ppg. 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 16 points against Temple. He then bested that mark with a 21-point performance against Rider.
Kari isn't just a scoring threat. He also set a career high in assists (seven) against Stony Brook and a career high in rebounds (nine) against Rider. In the Rider and Temple games, he led the team in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals.
INJURY UPDATE: Junior Michael Gruner has missed the last four games with an injury that he suffered in practice. Gruner may be available to play against Central Connecticut State. Sophomore Ben Wheeler has been his replacement in the starting lineup.
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.
NEXT UP: The Leopards return to Connecticut for a matchup against Hartford at 7 p.m. on Dec. 4 before heading to New York for a 7 p.m tip-off against Fordham.
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.
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 became the winningest coach in Lafayette history and now holds an all-time record of 188-191 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.
ABOUT CCSU: Central Connecticut State (1-3) won its first game of the season on Tuesday night, a 76-51 victory over Binghamton. Sophomore Ken Horton, the NEC's leading shot blocker last season, notched his second double-double of the season with 20 points and 10 rebounds while also swatting away seven shots in the win. Horton is the leading returning scorer and is averaging 23 ppg in 2008-09 and while shooting 56.3 percent from the floor.
After their 15-point loss to Boston College, the Blue Devils lost their next two games to Colgate and Albany by one point each.
CCSU was selected to finish fourth in the NEC's pre-season poll after returning four starters from the 2007-08 season, including reigning NEC Rookie of the Year Shemik Thompson.
Central Connecticut is coached by Howie Dickenman who is in his 13th season as the head coach at his alma mater. Dickenman holds a 193-164 record at Central Connecticut.
SERIES NOTES: Central Connecticut State University and Lafayette have met just twice in the history of the programs. Lafayette claimed last season's meeting 71-54 on Nov. 25. The first series meeting took place Dec. 28, 1986 at the Siena Tournament in Loudonville, N.Y.. The Leopards defeated the Blue Devils 78-67.
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). Brown is climbing the all-time career scoring record. His 74 points this season have catapulted him from 35th to 26th among career scoring leaders. His 1,105 career points recently surpassed Preston Denby '65, and he needs four more to take over the 25th spot currently occupied by Mike Bellamy '79 who had 1,108 career points.
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.
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 12 treys this season, he now has 231 three-pointers to his name and needs 41 more to break the career record held by Tyson Whitfield '01.
WELCOME TO COLLEGE: Head coach Fran O'Hanlon hasn't been afraid to use the seven members of his freshman class so far this season. Ryan Willen, Jim Mower and Alex Orchowski have played in all five games, while Nick Petkovich and J.D. Pelham have each played in four games. Rob Delaney and Andy Moore have played in three and two games, respectively, playing a combined 16 minutes at Colorado. 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. With a rowdy group of Wagner fans doing its 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.
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 91 games in his career. Kari played in 30 games in his first season on College Hill after transferring from East Carolina and is the leading scorer this season with 15.4 points per game.
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. This season, Brown has 18 assists through five games (3.6 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 three times this season, averaging 14.8 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 76 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.
LAFAYETTE ON TELEVISION: The Leopards have 15 games televised broadcasted 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.
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 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 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.