Friday, December 8, 2006

Men Lose MAAC Opener 57-54 to Manhattan

In what was their sloppiest game of the year, the Stags shot only 27.7 % from the floor and lost in a tight game to Manhattan, who did not play much better, shooting only 37.8%. Fairfield and Manhattan both committed many fouls, with 52 combined.

  • Leading Scorers: The Stags were led on the offensive side by Jonathan Han, who broke out of his scoring slump to score 13 points, along with 3 assists, after starting the game on the bench. Freshman Anthony Johnson continued to improve, scoring 9 points and bringing down 10 boards. Mike Van Schaick and Herbie Allen each scored 10 as well.
  • Foul Trouble Stops Stars: Freshman Greg Nero, who is the team's leading scorer for the season, played just 16 minutes due to foul trouble and did not score a point or have a rebound. Manhattan's leading scorer Arturo Dubois played only 8 minutes, 7 in the first half, and did not score either.
  • Post Game Anger: Head Coach Ed Cooley held a brief press conference with the media and was very disappointed with the team's play. He blamed himself for not preparing the team well enough and said that they had no reason to show no energy, not even the tough schedule. The players left quickly and refused to speak to the media.
Check for a full game recap and post game reaction from Cooley.



Anonymous said...

Glad to hear that Cooley is upset. That was a pathetic performance all around. Some observations:

- Where was the crowd? The announced attendance was 2,207 and that seems overly generous based on the large gaps throughout the arena. The Manhattan game typically draws the best crowd among MAAC opponents. I know it was cold, but come on its Friday night and this was the MAAC opener. The Manhattan fans in my section far outnumbered the Stags fans and were a lot louder. Let's hope things get better from here.

The student section was especially pathetic. I counted less than 100 in the "Red Sea." Credit the students who were there though; they were vocal throughout the game and had a couple of clever signs. There just needs to be more of them at future games. Again, I understand its cold and its Friday night, but you can go out after the game.

The Arena will continue to provide no home court advantage for the Stags if no one shows up. I agree with everyone who wants the team to play more games at Alumni Hall, but that's not happening any time soon. Fairfield just signed a five year contract with the Arena which limits them to playing no more than two games at Alunmi Hall each year. The fans need to accept that most games will be played at the arena and try to make it a tougher place for opponents to play.

- Where's the offense? Who would have thought we would be remembering last season fondly. Yes there are a lot of underclassmen on this team, but they have played 12 games now and still seem to have no offensive flow. As best I can tell, the strategy is to pass the ball around until the shot clock is around ten and then whoever has the ball rushes the basket and hopes for the best.

The best example of this is Herbie Allen who occasionally makes nice plays but is a poor shooter and a turnover machine which is not a great combination at either point guard or shooting guard. He killed them tonight late in the game with two straight turnovers and then a poor shot on the third possession.

It also seems like no one really wants the ball on offense. Even when players have open looks they pass them up for a pass in hopes of setting up an even better shot. Unfortunately, this usually results in a rushed shot because the shot clock is expiring or a turnover because the other players are not expecting a pass.

Han and Van Schaick need to shoot more. Han led them tonight in scoring. Unfortunately, most of those points were in the last two minutes. He needs to be more aggressive early on in games and look for his shot or look to drive to the hoop and get fouled. Van Schaick passed up several open looks early. He needs to take those shots. Even if they don't go in, our offensive rebounding with A. Johnson, Nero and O'Sullivan on the inside has been a strength this year. A missed shot with an opportunity for an offensive rebound is better than looking for the perfect shot and turning the ball over.

- Why does Cooley insist on playing so many players? O'Toole suffered from this same problem. Cooley started off great the first couple of games playing his better players more minutes, but now there seems to be no rhyme or reason to his substitution patterns. Let's face it this team is not that good this year. To maximize our chance to win we need to have our best players on the floor as much as possible. Nero in particular seems to struggle unless he is in the game for long stretches. This means less playing time for guys like Oglesby, Allen, Flemming and Diakhate which I don't think will be much of a loss.

My ideal lineup would be Han, Van Schaick, Nero, A. Johnson and D. Johnson. Bring Allen in to change the pace and spell Han or Van Schaick occasionally. Use O'Sullivan as the primary backup for Nero and A. Johnson. Even give Middleton a couple of minutes a game. D. Johnson looked really good at times tonight on the offensive end and was not afraid to take the ball to the basket; I would like to see him play more.

Manhattan pretty much played five guys for 30 or more minutes and everyone else played limited minutes. There is no reason why Fairfield cannot do the same thing, unless someone is in foul trouble. Its not like Cooley even uses a pressing defense which was always O'Toole's excuse for playing so many players. The last couple of games have been especially bad with Cooley juggling the lineup and constant substitutions. This team has enough problems on offense, less substitutions should help them.

- Its a long season. Maybe they are tired from playing 12 games already. I think they can play better if they can just find some consistent offense. Nero and Van Schaick looked like they would steady the offense early on, but neither has been great lately. If Nero can dominate UConn for a half, he should be able to play well in the MAAC. Devin Johnson looks like he could provide an offensive spark. Let's hope he continues to assert himself in future games.

This team should get better. They are extremely young and the coaching staff is still getting their feet wet. I am hopeful that adjustments will be made and we will see them start to play better, especially on offense.

In Ed we trust...

Tom said...

The crowd was very small. I think I saw about 50-60 students in the student section, which compared to the large amount at the Alumni games, is bad. If this game was at Alumni, it would have been a different story.

I agree though, the student fans who came were loud and at key times got into the game. Its just too bad more students did not come.

It was so quiet that I could hear everything the players were saying on the court. That was definitely not the case at Alumni.

The offense is so shaky, they don't seem to have found a go to guy yet. At first it seemed like it would be Nero, then it looked like Van Schaick, but right now it is a big question as to who will step up.

I think it will be interesting to see what the Stags can do after they take the rest of December off before the Fordham game, following tomorrow night. It was a grueling schedule, and that part of the MAAC season will prove whether or not this team can do anything this year.