Friday, February 29, 2008

Final from the Harbor: Stags defeat Manhattan 83-71

Fairfield closes out the game to win 83-71 and finish out the home season, extending its win streak to a season-high seven.

The Stags improve to 11-6 in the MAAC and move into a tie with Niagara, behind first-place Siena, Rider and Loyola.

For the game story, see the Fairfield Mirror website.

-Tom Cleary

Halftime at the Harbor: Fairfield trails Manhattan 32-29

It's a low scoring game, which the Stags would have hoped for, but they are on the low end with 29 points after a late three-pointer by Devon Austin broke the tie. Fairfield has given up a lot of offensive rebounds, while missing a lot of shots at the same time, which is not a good combination, but it has been the same story for Manhattan so the game has been pretty even so far.

With Iona currently leading Marist (28-23 at the half), its an excellent chance for Fairfield to lock up at least fifth place tonight and give themselves a shot at a higher finish, but they need to take care of business here against Manhattan. Still 20 minutes to go, should be a good half.

Stat of the half: 40 percent field goal percentage - Both Fairfield and Manhattan are shooting 40 percen tfrom the field.

Player of the half: Herbie Allen - 7 points, 3-for-6 shooting, 3 rebounds, 2 assists. But on the Manhattan side, freshman Chris Smith is out-playing everyone with 16 points, half of the Jaspers points. On the season he is averaging 9.2 points per game in 23.4 minutes, but has played 19 in this game and has been a killer for Fairfield.

Keys to the Second Half:
  1. Shut down Smith: The Stags need to stop Chris Smith from scoring. He has hit a lot of open shots and has not been played well at all by the Fairfield guards. He is 6-3 and taller than both Han and Allen. With a player like Warren Edney on him in the second half, Fairfield could shut him down.
  2. Rebound, rebound, rebound: The Stags may have had eight offensive rebounds, but they allowed nine to Manhattan and both teams had 11 second chance points. If Fairfield can control the boards, which it should be able to based on the size of the Stags big men compared to Manhattan's (6-6 Devon Austin and 6-9 Laurence Jolicoeur, who is Manhattan's tallest player).
  3. More bench contributions: The Stags have been outscored 10-8 on the bench, but need Nero, Hawkins and Evanovich to step up and give Fairfield some energy off the bench. Mamadou Diakhate could help do that, if he is fully healthy, no need to have him reinjured before the MAAC tournament next weekend, when he will really be needed.
For second half coverage, as always, see the men's basketball blog on the right side of the page.

-Tom Cleary

Live from the Harbor: Fairfield vs. Manhattan

A couple pre-game notes as the Stags take on Manhattan for the second time this season. Fairfield picked up a 66-61 victory at Draddy Gym on Feb. 8, the second in the Stags current six-game winning streak.

Fairfield will look to post a seven game win streak for the second straight year with a win tonight and would move to .500 overall on the season.

The Stags are coming off of a 60-51 win against Drexel in Philadelphia during the BracketBuster event.

Starting tonight for Fairfield:

C Anthony Johnson
PF Marty O'Sullivan
SF Warren Edney
SG Herbie Allen
PG Jon Han

Manhattan starts:

PG Chris Smith
SG Antoine Pearson
SF Rashad GReen
PF Devon Austin
C Laurence Joliecoeur

Keys to victory for Fairfield:

  1. Hold the Jaspers offense to 50-60 points: The Stags are 5-1 when holding opponents under 50 points in agame, including last time out against Drexel. St. Francis, who beat the Stags 55-51 is the only loss.
  2. Look for high percentage shots: The Stags offense works best when Fairfield wears down the defense, takes time off the shot clock and makes the best shot when it matters. Han and Edney will be key tonight doing that.
  3. Marty O' and Peanut: The Stags will need O'Sullivan and Anthony Johnson to use their power inside against a weak front line for Manhattan.
For in-game coverage click on the Men's Basketball link on the right side of the page.
-Tom Cleary

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

MAAC: "We Got Calls Wrong"

The concluding moments of regulation in last night's Fairfield/Marist game were a frenzy of mistakes due to questionable officiating and timing difficulties. There were constant stoppages for replay reviews and instances in which the officials had to convene to discuss calls. All in all, a hectic night at Harbor Yard.

The following is an official statement obtained by 'The Mirror' regarding the problems. It was released this morning by Jill Skotarczak, the assistant commissioner and a consultant of media relations for the MAAC. It reads:

“After reviewing the issues related to the game with the Arena at Harbor Yard staff, MAAC Men’s Basketball Coordinator of Officials Brad Tracy and the MAAC staff, I would note the following:

“There was a problem with the timing devices throughout the evening. One of the problems might have been that the batteries to the officials’ packs were not changed after the preceding women’s game. The arena staff is continuing a check of the Precision Timing console and the clock system to insure that it is in working order for future contests.

“As to the out of bounds call with 2.1 seconds left in regulation, the officials ruled that it was Marist ball, because the Fairfield player had gone out of bounds. After reviewing the tape of the game, it is clearly an error by the official who blew the whistle, and he maintained that he definitely saw the player out of bounds. The call is not correctable, and the only question the officials reviewed on the courtside monitor was how much time should be on the game clock.

“As for the issue about the Fairfield player calling timeout as part of this sequence, a timeout must recognized by the officials. None of the officials on the game recognized the timeout in question.

“The MAAC Coordinator of Officials is reviewing the issues related to this call with the involved officials. - MAAC"

- K.C.

The 2-3 Zone - Feb. 20th

A look at our top dogs in the MAAC:
1. Rider (18-9, 11-5 MAAC) - A three-game losing streak is far from the vote of confidence we were looking for in a top-seeded team. Still, how long can this tailspin possibly continue? Furthermore, the fact that all of the team's recent losses have been competitive down to the wire makes me think that the Broncs are a bounce or two away from regaining their swagger. Coach Tommy Dempsey: "If we win these final two, we'll be hanging a banner up in our gym." I have even easier math: one dominant big man normally equals March success.

2. Loyola (Md.) (16-12, 11-5 MAAC) - A four-way tie atop the current MAAC standings is largely a product of the Greyhounds' recent streak. Monday night's comeback over Rider was a thing of beauty, especially against a team that was reeling from back-to-back losses and was likely hungry for a victory. Senior Brian Tuck's 16 second-half points was as impressive a performance as Patsos' and company have seen all season. The Greyhounds have now won 9 of their last 11 games. Watch out.

Three movers-and-shakers in the MAAC
3. Siena (16-10, 11-5 MAAC) - Earlier this season, the '2-3 Zone' pegged them as easily the most athletic team in the conference and a clear-cut favorite to win the tournament - which just so happens to be in Saints' own backyard. Shaky losses to Loyola (Md.) and Manhattan have us singing a different tune. Still, a look at the bigger picture makes the Saints' slide a bit deceiving: Manhattan has won 2 of 3 games and is playing poised basketball down the stretch and Loyola (Md.) is finally living up to pre-season hype. Siena also went into the Zoo down in Trenton and took down top-ranked Rider (80-77) with first-place on the line. Key in March: Siena's tremendous depth.

4. Niagara (17-8, 7-3 MAAC) - Forget about the near-loss to St. Peter's on Monday night, or the lapse to Fairfield in Albany right after the Stags were killed by Canisius two days before. As long as this team has Charron Fisher, they have a legitimate chance to win the MAAC. In fact, aside from losing to a red-hot Fairfield team and to Rider, the Purple Eagles have won five of six games - including a convincing win over the Greyhounds. Joe Mihalich is experienced, the team is experienced, several tiebreakers fall the Eagles way - what else could you ask for heading down the stretch?

5. Fairfield (12-14, 10-6 MAAC) - Unreal. It's hard to fathom that the same team that lost seven of eight games in early January, or the group that lost to Canisius by 19 (70-51 on 1/25) is now the "hottest team in the conference" (a direct quote in the post-game press conference from Marist head coach Matt Brady). Marty O'Sullivan's renaissance is easily one of the best storylines of the MAAC season. Jon Han is Cooley's "team MVP". Amazingly enough, the issue now moves away from if the Stags can avoid a play-in game to if the Stags can win the regular-season MAAC title. While the latter is highly doubtful, Fairfield will certainly spell trouble for any team that draws them in the tournament in two weeks.

- K.C.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Final at the Harbor: Fairfield wins 87-85 in 2OT

Fairfield closes out the second overtime to win the game 87-85, its fifth straight game and the Stags are now 10-6, one game out of first place.

More to come after the press conference.

-Tom Cleary

Halftime at the Harbor: Fairfield leading Marist 41-35

The Stags have come out firing on all cylinders and have a six point lead heading into the half. Fairfield has led by at least four except for 4-2 early in the game and have led by as much as 12.

  • Stat o' the half: Fairfield shooting 60 percent from the field, while holding Marist to 40 percent.
  • Player o' the half: Marty O'Sullivan - The super-senior is again playing as if every minute is his last and he has a game-high 12 points so far, along with a rebound and an assist in 13 minutes of play. Junior Jonathan Han also has 12 points and has dished out three assists, while pulling down four boards.
  • Keys to the second half:
    1. Keep on shooting: The Stags have been as perfect as possible from the floor, 15-for-25, while also hitting 4 of 9 three-pointers. Marty is 4-for-6, while Han is 4-for-5.
    2. Guard the perimeter: Ryan Schneider has hit two big threes so far for Marist, both keeping them in the game as Fairfield looked to pull away, but the team is 3-for-10 from beyond the arc and to win, the Stags will need to keep them quiet. On the season Marist is shooting 39 percent from three, but were 30 percent in the first half.
    3. Stop Spongy: Benjamin has 12 points on 6-for-10 shooting, tied for the game-high in scoring. He also has six rebounds in his 17 minutes on the court.
-Tom Cleary

Senior Night From Harbor Yard

The men's basketball team takes to the court for Senior Night (even though they play at home once more, but during spring break), against the Marist Red Foxes. Fairfield and Marist are tied for fifth place in the MAAC.

A few pre-game notes:

  • The Stags and Red Foxes are number one and number two in the conference in scoring defense. Fairfield allows a league-best 68.4 points per game, while Marist is allowing 68.9.
  • Fairfield will look to avenge a 77-70 loss in Poughkeepsie back on Jan. 13. The Red Foxes are now without guard Louie McCroskey who scored 18 points against Fairfield last time out, while the Stags have Mamadou Diakhate back on the bench.
  • The two teams will meet for the 38th time, with Marist holding a slim 19-18 edge in the series.
  • Sophomore guard Jonathan Han is 18 assists away from becoming the eighth player in school history to have 400 assists in his career. He has 154 assists this season, making him the sixth player in school history to do that.
  • Starting for the Stags: Han, Herbie Allen, Warren Edney (the Co-MAAC Rookie of the Week after 18 points against Rider on Friday), Anthony Johnson and Marty O'Sullivan.
  • For Marist: Dejaun Goodwin, David Devezin, Ben Farmer, Ryan Stilphen, and Spongy Benjamin. Leading scorer and freshman Jay Gavin (12.8 ppg) comes off the bench.
For more see the Men's Basketball Blog for in-game updates.
-Tom Cleary

Stags, Marist Showdown on the Way

A big, big game tonight from the Arena at Harbor Yard. When last these two teams met (Marist W 77-70), rookie Jay Gavin and the Red Foxes were turning heads and storming their way towards another dominant MAAC season. The Stags, however, were reeling and looked like a team without an identity.

As Mike Benishek writes this morning, one month can make all the difference in the world.

Be sure to check back to 'Mirror Sports Blog' for all of your coverage of a tremendous President's Day match-up, including pre-game news and notes and a live glog from Sports Editor Tom Cleary.

- K.C.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Halftime at the Harbor: Fairfield trailing 49-46

  • Nice job by the Athletic Department honoring the Stags NCAA tournament teams, including a return of Dianne Nolan, who gets a nice "DIANNE NOLAN!" chant from the band and student section.
  • Stat o' the half: Jason Thompson - 6 points, 1 rebound, 2 fouls, 12 minutes played.
  • Player o' the half: Warren Edney. 13 points, 2-for-3 from three, and 2 rebounds.
  • Keys to the second half:
  • 1. Keep Thompson off the scoreboard: Jason Thompson has just six points so far and two fouls. He played just 12 minutes and also only one rebound. Mamadou, O'Sullivan, Nero, and Peanut need to keep him contained.
  • 2. Keep playing through the pressure: Rider has been trapping near mid court throughout the half and Fairfield has been fighting through it, breaking the press and scoring out of it.
  • 3. Senior contributions: O'Sullivan, Mamadou, and Middleton have combined for 12 points and 4 rebounds as well as plauing tight defense.
Just a note: Loyola knocks off Siena 83-76 to improve to 10-5.


Fairfied vs. Rider Pre-Game

Keith is having some computer issues...there is no power strip near our seats and he still doesn't have a battery for his computer, so I'll be filling in for him again tonight.

A couple pre-game notes:

  • Big game for the Stags for multiple reasons. First of all Rider appears to be one of the best teams in the MAAC, led by Jason Thompson, a future NBA Draft Pick who is averaging 20.1 points per game and 12.1 rebounds per game this season. Also the Stags have a chance to move into a tie for at least fifth place with a win, and possibly move up higher depending on the outcome of the Loyola and Niagara games today.
  • Fairfield is riding a three game winning streak, its longest of the season.
  • With a win in at least two of his final five games of the season, Head Coach Ed Cooley would become the first head coach to have a .500 record in the MAAC during his first two seasons.
  • Geoff Middleton is getting the start today, along with Anthony Johnson, Warren Edney, and the usual Han and Allen at guards.
  • Should be interesting what Middleton does, maybe he is in their to bang bodies with Thompson to start the game. Cooley again with a strange line-up, he seems to do it a ot.

For in-game updates go to

-Tom Cleary

Friday, February 15, 2008

Connors Corner: Rider, Marist the perfect test

Three weeks from now, the men's basketball team will travel north to Albany, N.Y., for the MAAC tournament, an opportunity for the Stags to challenge the premier teams in the conference.

But they'll get an earlier chance to vie for MAAC supremacy.

This coming weekend, the Stags play host to Rider and Marist, who are currently first and third, respectively, in the MAAC.

If ever there was an opportunity for an unpredictable team to break the trend and assert themselves as a legitimate threat in the MAAC, then this may very well be that chance.

Consecutive comeback victories and an impressive road victory against Niagara have provided the Stags with a rare attribute: confidence.

"This [streak] was big for a lot of reasons," Cooley said. "I think that we are a very good road team, and we need to bring that same energy to our home base."

During a silent moment in the final 10 minutes of the second half, Cooley yelled to the crowd to wake up and make noise.

Cooley said that he is hoping for more support from the crowd this weekend.

"Coming down the stretch, we want to be playing our best basketball, which I think we are," said Cooley.

Based on Cooley's qualifications, the time may be right for Fairfield to confront the daunting task of facing Rider and Marist in the same weekend.

On Saturday, Fairfield will tip-off against Rider, the top team in the conference. Despite a recent loss to Siena at home, Head Coach Tommy Dempsey and the Broncs have looked nearly unbeatable over the past month of conference play.

Prior to its most recent game, Rider had won 10 consecutive contests and did so in dominant fashion. The win streak featured an average victory margin of 13.5 points.

Senior Jason Thompson, a 6-foot-11-inch NBA prospect, is the leading threat for the Broncs.

Like most teams with a single dominant player, Rider is at its best when Thompson is at his best. This season, the Broncs have won nine of 12 conference games, in which Thompson has scored at least 18 points per game.

click here to read the full story..

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Mirror Homecoming: Q&A with Ben Doody

As if the prospect of facing the top team in the MAAC is not enough hype for this weekend's game against Rider, Saturday has a little more significant for us here at "The Mirror" - as former Editor-in-Chief and columnist Ben Doody comes home. Doody is currently a beat writer covering Rider Men's Basketball for "The Trentonian", a regional newspaper in Trenton, N.J. Earlier this season, he covered Rutgers Football for the paper, and is also a regular contributor to NCAA basketball coverage.

We recently had a chance to catch up with Ben and ask him his outlook on Rider, the state of the MAAC, and his views on Fairfield's season. We very much appreciate the time, and he's a friend to all of us here at 'The Mirror' (even despite his Yankee remarks)

Enjoy this special edition of 'Doody Calls':

'The Mirror': Having watched him all season, how impressive is Rider forward Jason Thompson? Is the NBA-hype well deserved? How would he rank among MAAC players you've seen in your tenure as a reporter?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Halftime from the Harbor: Iona leading Fairfield 34-33

  • The Stags are playing well, but not well enough. Fairfield is shooting 54.2 percent from the field, while holding the Gaels to 51.9 percent shooting. But the Stags are just 1-for-5 from beyond the arc and have nine turnovers. Cooley should be happy with only three, three-pointers allowed so far by the Stags, a weakness of theirs all season long.
  • Stat of the half: Anthony Johnson is 5-for-5 from the floor and has a game-high ten points. His shooting percentage has gone up as he has started to take smarter shots.
  • Fun fact: The coach of the kids half time game looked like Mirror sports writer Chris Simmons in 10 years. Freaky.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Follow LIVE as Stags take on Jaspers

Check out the Mirror Sports Men's Basketball blog for live coverage of Fairfield basketball! Tonight, the Stags return home looking for revenge against Iona, who they lost to in New Rochelle 67-52 back on Jan. 18.

No Keith Connors today, because he is out falling down a mountain, but Tom Cleary will provide all the in game updates you could ask for.

Mirror Sports is your center for live, glog coverage.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Conversation with Cooley

I sat down with men's Head Coach Ed Cooley for a few minutes Tuesday afternoon to talk about the weekend, the upcoming Manhattan game, and the Drexel Bracket Buster announcement.

Check out the Men's Basketball blog to see what Cooley had to say.

-Tom Cleary

Monday, February 4, 2008

Scoutin' the Stags - Feb. 4th

Last Time Out:
Fairfield entered this weekend's series in Buffalo as an opportunity to assert themselves as a consistent MAAC team. The Stags left the weekend with a 1-1 mark, seemingly acceptable given the team was facing a good Niagara team on the road. However, I can honestly say I have never been more confused about this team as I am right now. A 28-point loss to Canisius? Canisius?! Truth be told, Fairfield was likely not up for the game at all - and who can blame them after a 7-hour bus ride on Super Bowl weekend. Anthony Johnson's absence and Frank Turner's offensive explosion may have been factors. A competitive, defensive-minded win over Niagara showed us the Stags team we expected. Where they go from here, though, is anyone's guess.

The Week Ahead:
  • As has been the case for most of the MAAC season, neither the Men nor the Women during the week. However, Both teams return to action on Friday night, February 8th.
  • One week after Buffalo was the theme for Fairfield basketball, it's "New York, New York" week for Fairfield. How appropriate - they are the Super Bowl Champs!
  • Ed Cooley and the Stags get back into action with a trip to the Bronx to challenge Manhattan. 7 p.m. is the tip-off time, and we'll be there live covering the action in our Mirror Sports Glog on the Men's Basketball blog.
  • The Stags finish the week on Sunday afternoon in the second game of a Harbor Yard double-header. Revenge is the theme for Fairfield as Iona comes to town in a game that has MAAC "play-in game" ramifications. It may be one of the bigger games this season.
  • For the ladies, Sabra Wrice and the crew take the trip down the Hutchinson Parkway to take on Iona at the Hynes Center. Given Iona's second-place standing in the current standings, not to mention the Gaels' win over the Stags earlier this month at AHY, this is a must-win for Fairfield.
  • Sunday's double-header begins with a Women's Basketball game against Manhattan. Tip-off is scheduled for 1p.m.
MAAC Game of the Week
Honestly, there are far too many great games to pick from. This week has the potential to be the best flurry of conference games we see all season. As if that's not enough, a peek at the standings shows that this week could give us a glimpse at potential MAAC tournament games.

Here's a quick top five:
  1. Marist vs. Siena - Big game in Albany against two teams that, only one week earlier, were my two top teams in the conference. One week later, the two are scrambling after the Rider Broncs rolled through both of them. Do both teams still have potential to win the MAAC tournament? Absolutely. Still, it's hard to ignore that Rider has now established itself as the clear-cut favorite to win it all. Marist and Siena's response to this is intriguing.
  2. Loyola (Md.) and Niagara - If Marist and Siena is a battle of two of the top three, then a game between the Purple Eagles and the Greyhounds is a "best of the rest" game. Niagara's 14-point rally against the Stags on Sunday just fell short. Still, no bonus points here for trying. If you want to be a MAAC contender, losing at home to a reeling Fairfield team is a bad sign. Loyola (Md.) could put a two-game separation between them and Jon Mihalich's team in the rankings with a win here.
  3. Siena vs. Marist - Part Deux. Except this time, the Saints have to fend with the Red Foxes at McCann. Big difference. Given that Marist dropped one to Rider at the Field House a week ago, I'd expect a different tune this week.
  4. Fairfield vs. Iona - Play-in game ramifications. See above.
  5. Rider vs. Niagara - Last season's champions against this season's counterpart? Time will tell. For Niagara, this is yet another chance to show that they are legitimate contenders in the league. For Rider, it is a prime opportunity to put an exclamation point on a difficult four-game stretch.
Off to the parade in NYC! G-Men!

- Keith Connors