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FDU Drops Another, Iona Wins Another

February 7, 2008 Columns No Comments


Short-Handed Knights Can’t Knock Off Pioneers

by Ray Floriani

TEANECK, N.J. – They gave a valiant effort but in the end came up short. Off the floor it was too many in “sick bay” while on the court there were too many good looks given up on the perimeter. For Fairleigh Dickinson University, it added up to a 92-81 loss to Sacred Heart at the Rothman Center last Thursday.

“We are beat up physically,” said FDU coach Tom Green, who suited up only eight players. The injuries have had twofold effect. For one, Green is going deeper into an already young rotation. The other problem is that less available bodies means fatigue is a factor. Among the eight, four players logged 36 or more minutes.

Injuries and poor health aside, Green takes nothing away from Sacred Heart. The Pioneers simply had too much firepower for the hosts. “Fifteen offensive rebounds,” Green said glancing at the stat sheet. “That’s fifteen more possessions. They are the best shooting team in the league and we gave them eight field goal attempts.”

Sacred Heart hit 38 of those shots (48 percent) but the biggest damage was done beyond the arc. The Pioneers were 12 of 27 (44 percent) as Luke Granato led the way with 4 of 9 from three en route to 14 points. Drew Shubik paced the Pioneers, who had five double figure scorers, with 16.

Defensive woes aside, a bright spot for FDU came on the other end as Green said, “For once we shot the ball fairly well overall for a change.” The Knights hit 50 percent (29 of 58) and were led by senior guard Manny Ubilla, the team’s leading scorer, with 29 points. Green also received a solid outing from senior forward Eric Hazard (16 points, nine boards). Another bright spot was freshman DeJuan Pursley. The 6-9 forward, “gave us a presence inside,” per Green with a 14-point, 7-rebound effort.

In the end, it was another loss for FDU, which dropped them to 2-6 in the Northeast Conference while Sacred Heart improved to a second place 8-2 mark. “It hasn’t been easy,” Green said of his club’s struggles. “I’m a very competitive person and stay up late thinking about zones and combination junk defenses. But I can’t get down, we have another game in 48 hours.”

Gaels Win Another

On Friday evening Iona visited the Yanitelli Center for a MAAC meeting with St. Peter’s. The Gaels made it two straight conference wins with a 60-52 victory. Very similar to Wednesday night’s win over Manhattan at the Garden, Iona had a double-digit lead in the second half and had to hold off a late charge by St. Peter’s to get the win. The Gaels scored one field goal the final eight minutes against St. Peter’s.

“Our defense does a good job of building a lead,” Iona coach Kevin Willard said. “But the offense seems to give it back.” That shows up specifically in the areas of ill-advised shot selection and/or turnovers. “It’s like your defense holds them in football,” Willard said with a gridiron-oriented analogy, “and your offense comes on the field and throws an interception that they run back all the way.”

Willard made that point reflecting on turnovers. While his club enjoyed a 44-34 advantage under the glass, they were guilty of 21 turnovers for the contest.

Sophomore guard Milan Prodanovic led the way for Iona with a game-high 19 points. He was deadly from beyond the arc, burying four treys. Gary Springer had an eight-point, seven-board effort, which was not as strong as two nights earlier against Manhattan at MSG. Picking up the slack was Dexter Gray, who had a solid 12-point, 12-rebound effort.

“He’s just so consistent,” Willard said of the 6-7 senior who transferred from St. John’s. “His numbers don’t blow you away but he’s consistent night in and night out.”

Todd Sowell led the Peacocks with a workman-like 14-point, dozen-rebound evening. Guards Wesley Jenkins and Nick Leon added 10 each.

Iona improved to 5-7 in the MAAC while St. Peter’s fell to 1-10. “John (Dunne) has done a terrific job,” Willard said in praise of the St. Peter’s mentor. “They play hard. They were down 14, kept fighting and got right back into it.”

Notes

  • Among those in attendance were Bloomfield Tech (NJ) High School coach Nick Mariniello. Two players in the starting lineups played for last year’s NJ TOC finalist at Tech: Jenkins of St. Peter’s and freshman guard Rashon Dwight, who scored 4 points and had 4 rebounds for Iona.
  • Willard noted that his roster is a bit deceptive. He has some seniors, but with limited experience. “Dexter Gray is a fifth-year senior who sat out after transferring,” he said. “(Devon) Clarke is a senior with a year with us and (senior point guard and JUCO transfer) Kyle Camper sat out injured last year and is in his first year of Division I ball.”

     

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