Sunday, February 25, 2007

Inside the Numbers: Breaking Down the Stags Victory Over St. Peter's

The Stags were very lucky to pull out a much needed win over St. Peter's this afternoon, 63-60. With about eight minutes left and Fairfield down by two, it really seemed as if they were going to lose to the ninth place team in the MAAC and be forced to play Iona Friday night in the play-in game.

Everything set up perfectly for Fairfield, Rider fell to Niagara early in the day, putting their fate in the Stags hands.

But they may have overlooked St. Peter's a bit and with injuries to Greg Nero, Rich Flemming, and Marty O'Sullivan, the Stags struggled to win, but in the end senior guard Michael Van Schaick stepped up his game and willed his team to victory, with 20 points in the second half and 25 on the game.

In the first half Head Coach Ed Cooley used many bodies, including Geoff Middleton and Roi Buchbinder, to fill in for the injured players in the frontcourt. Cooley said after the game that the Stags coaching staff decided it would be better to go with what they know, rather than not having a solid rotation, as they have done in the past few games. Nero and O'Sullivan played more in the second half, despite being at around 70 percent.

Cooley praised Van Schaick for leading his team to a win, calling him a superhero, who put on his cape in the second half and did everything necessary for the Stags to get the win.

A few notes:

  • Jonathan Han `09 had a very solid game, with 10 points and nine rebounds, narrowly missing a double double. He added five assists while turning the ball over just three times. The Stags as a team turned the ball over 16 times, while forcing 24 turnovers.
  • The Stags shot under 30 percent in the first half, but shot 50 percent in the second half.
  • Fairfield was outrebounded 37-30. Earlier in the season the Stags were out rebounding everyone, but still losing. In the end it comes down to grabbing the key rebounds down the stretch, and the Stags do just that.
  • Van Schaick's defense has been overlooked at times but he was key down the stretch, stripping Brandon Brock of the ball and driving down the court for a fast break layup and then later getting back on defense to intercept a long pass that would have led to a fast break layup for St. Peter's. It looked as if noone was going to get back on defense for the Stags, but suddenly Van Schaick streaked into the backcourt, leaped up, snagged the ball and then held it as the clocked ticked down to 17 seconds, forcing St. Peter's to foul him.
  • Interesting moment: The crowd, Cooley, and all of us at press row were shocked when Han threw up an alley oop to the rarely used Roi Buchbinder `10, who caught the ball and nearly slammed it home, sending it off of the rim. A little contact on the way up by a St. Peter's defender may have broken up what would have been an amazing play. Buchbinder seems to have some athletic ability, as evidenced by that play, but he often looks lost and not ready to be an everyday player by any means. Maybe with some development he could turn into a good bench player, in the way that O'Sullivan has in his senior year.
Check out for more coverage in my game recap.

-Tom Cleary

No comments: