Before facing his former team last season, Ed Cooley mentioned something (and I don’t remember the exact quote and can’t find anything online) about wanting to rip out Fairfield’s throats once they got onto the court — And this was about a team whom he personally recruited most of it’s players! Heading into tonight’s game, the team Cooley left last year for PC has five new faces. In other words, Big Ed has even less feelings for this current Fairfield squad — oh yeah he’s a cuddly bear!! In addition to ripping throats, Cooley will probably add spinning them around, shoving said throats up their rear, and kicking them into a deadly pit Spartan-style. “Oh, I’ve chosen my words carefully, Stag. Perhaps you should have done the same! THIS IS FRIARTOWN!”
WHAT TO: KNOW
Game Time: 7:00 PM
Opponent: Fairfield (3-2)
Location: The Dunk
Spread: Providence -4.5
Ken Pom: Providence: #89, Fairfield: #137
TeamRankings.com Projection: Fairfield 65.9, Providence 68.6
WHAT TO: VOTE FOR
WHAT TO: LOOK FOR
Only One C: In Ed Cooley’s first game against his old team last November, Providence pulled off a road upset at Fairfield (the Friars were 7.5 underdogs) thanks to the Three C’s. Vincent Council, Gerard Coleman, and Bryce Cotton combined for 67 of PC’s 80 points. Cotton has proved so far he can handle the big scoring load while also being the point guard, but at least he will have help from Kadeem Batts this year. The only other scorers from that game last year who will play tonight are LaDontae Henton (7 points) and Brice Kofane (4 points).
Needham’s Revenge: Derek Needham is one of the top players in the MAAC conference, and will look to have a much better outing against his former coach than he had last season. After circling the matchup against Cooley and the Friars on his iCal when the schedule came out last year, Needham had a rather poor shooting night that kicked off a five game stretch in which he shot 4-30 from behind the arc. He definitely took some time adjusting to playing with transfer Rakim Sanders. Against PC in their second game of the season, he shot 3-11 (all which were three pointers) and coughed up the ball 5 times in the losing effort. The senior guard is having trouble getting things started this year (77.7 offensive rating, 28.9% 3FG through 5 games) after missing the last 8 games last season with a broken foot, but might reach down and bring it against the coach that brought him to Fairfield.
A More Efficient Sexy Six/Seven: Vincent Council was injured almost two weeks ago. Puerto Rico was obviously a trying trip considering they had to play 3 games in 4 days, one without Ice Cotton. Although this week had a day of turkey and giving thanks, hopefully Ed Cooley had some quality time to work with the Ice-led squad that will be manning The Dunk over the net few weeks. Ball screen, meet Mr. Bryce Cotton. Entry pass, meet Mr. Kadeem Batts.
Fairfield’s Size: The top five minute getters for the Stags are all 6-5 and under. Needham and senior Desmond Wade give Fairfield a solid veteran backcourt, but the front court is still inconsistent amongst the guys with experience. They do have some size from the newcomers though. 7 footer Josip Mikulic (20 minutes per game, 8.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg) is battling expected inconsistency as a freshman, and didn’t even play in their last game against Fordham. Amadou Sidibe is a 6-8 freshman forward off the bench who only has played 18 MPG so far, but has pulled down 5.4 RPG. He also gets 2.4 of them on the offensive glass, which could be a factor considering how poor the Friars faired preventing 2nd chances in Puerto Rico.
WHAT TO: READ
Friars.com: Gamenotes [PDF]
Scouting Fairfield University: The Stags are guided by second-year Head Coach Sydney Johnson. All-MAAC guard Derek Needham is the Stags leading scorer (11.6 points per game). Junior forward Keith Johnson is the team’s the top rebounder (5.4 rebounds per a game). Fairfield has posted a
3-2 mark. In the team’s most recent game, the Stags defeated Fordham, 74-71.
FairfieldStags.com: Men’s Basketball Continues Road Trip With Providence College On Friday
The Fairfield University men’s basketball team will continue its month-long road trip by heading north for a Friday night match up with Providence College. The Stags will take on the Friars at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center beginning at 7 pm.
Fairfield brings a 3-2 overall record into the game after defeating Fordham in a 74-71 decision last Tuesday. The win enabled the team to finish the Preseason NIT Tip-Off with a 2-2 record, defeating Penn and Fordham while falling to Virginia and Lehigh. The Stags improved to 3-0 in neutral site games after the tournament, a record which includes a season-opening victory against Central Connecticut State University.
MAAC Athletics Conference: Loyola Selected as Men’s Basketball Preseason Favorite
Fairfield was picked to finish 4th.
Loyola received seven of the first-place votes and 97 points, followed by Manhattan College, which received two first-place votes and 89 points. Iona College, last season’s regular season champion, finished in third with 70 points. Fairfield University followed in fourth place with 60 points, while Niagara University took fifth with 58 points. Siena College received 55 points to finish sixth, followed by Rider University (39 points) in seventh, Marist College (37) in eighth, Canisius College (27) in ninth and Saint Peter’s University (18) in 10th to round out the poll.
Sports Network: College Basketball Preview – Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference
FAIRFIELD: The Stags had their problems early on during the 2011-12 campaign, but they turned it around at just the right time and even made it into a postseason tournament where they dropped Yale, Manhattan and Robert Morris before succumbing to Mercer in the CIT. The three postseason victories were the most ever in a single year for the Stags. That team was carried by Rakim Sanders with his 16.6 ppg and 8.2 rpg, but he’s no longer available and that means guys like Derek Needham and Maurice Barrow will be called upon to supply even more in the way of offense for a program that prides itself on keeping scoring low no matter who the opposition. Fairfield was 34th in the nation a year ago as it held the competition to only 61.1 ppg, and that generally worked in favor of the Stags as they finished with a record of 22-15 and 12-6 in conference during the first year under head coach Sydney Johnson. Needham was second on the team in scoring with 11.8 ppg and was tops in the passing department with 100 assists over the course of 29 starts. Needham also made good on 38.9 percent of his three-point tries, which was almost as good as his 39.7 percent from the floor overall sorry to say. Barrow (9.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg) was second on the team in total minutes, so coach Johnson knows he can rely on him to help direct a team that has several new faces on the roster.
Connecticut Post: Men’s basketball preview: Stags flying a bit under the radar
“I want to make something very clear — we had a more talented group of players last year, but I don’t think we had a better team,” said Johnson, whose club, along with Iona, was projected to win the MAAC last season. “Our players and our coaches have talked about that amongst ourselves. In the sense of what a team stands for, this team is terrific.”
Stamford Advocate: Ben Doody: Hiring Ed Cooley changed course of Fairfield program
“The search firm that we had just kept saying to me `so what about Ed Cooley,?” Doris said Monday night after a Providence team coached by Cooley had beaten Fairfield 80-72 before a school record crowd of 6,375. “So I’m going `who the hell is Ed Cooley? I’ve never heard of this guy. … Not too many people really knew who Ed Cooley was, because (BC head coach) Al Skinner was the name and all of that, so people knew who Al was. And I knew Billy Coen, who was much more talked about than Ed.”
But after each conversation Cooley had with members of the search committee or with Doris, people involved in the search left shaking their heads in near amazement, blown away by Cooley’s enthusiasm for the sport and his desire to rebuild Fairfield’s program.
WHAT TO: WATCH
CBSSports.com Ed Cooley, 11.14.11
2011 – Fairfield Stags vs Providence Friars recap
Men’s Baskeball coach Ed Cooley up close.
Men’s Basketball: Fairfield tops Central Connecticut in overtime
Sights and Sounds – Lehigh Men’s Basketball vs. Fairfield
CJ McCollum dunks on Fairfield defender – Lehigh Preseason NIT
Sydney Johnson at Evening of Fairfield Hoops
WHERE TO: FOLLOW
Twitter.com: I’ll be live tweeting @friarblog. You can also follow the #pcbb hashtag as always.
WHERE TO: WATCH
FriarTV.com: PC vs. Fairfield
WHERE TO: LISTEN