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Friday, January 26, 2007

MU vs. RMU Press men's hoops story for Saturday

By TONY GRAHAM
STAFF WRITER

WEST LONG BRANCH - Make no mistake about it.
If the Monmouth University men's basketball team (8-12, 3-5)
is serious about climbing
back into the mix for an upper rung Northeast Conference Tournament berth, than
Saturday's game with high-scoring, potent rebounding Robert Morris (13-5, 5-4) should probably have "must win" written on its blackboards, embedded in its psyche, and etched in stone.
""First of all, we're at home,'' said Dave Calloway, Monmouth
coach.
""The
way things are going right now (Monmouth is 1-9 on the road)
we have to win our home games.''
The game marks Monmouth's only regular season meeting with Robert
Morris which also underlines its significance.
""When we've always finished in the top (of the NEC) we've won
these games where we
play a team once,'' said Calloway.
""We already lost to one team we play once, Quinnipiac, so this is one
we've
got to get, especially, because it's at home.''
""The way it's going right now Robert Morris has one less loss than us in the
league so we'll be fighting with them for positioning as well. It's an
important game.''
A. J. Jackson, a 6-6 senior (16.6 ppg,), leads RMU's No. 2 NEC offense which
is looking to score more than 80 points in a fourth game in row for the
first time since since the early 90's.
""Their first five is probably as talented as anybody in the league,'' said
Calloway.
Despite the win Thursday over St. Francis, Pa. Monmouth was embarrassed on the
boards, 27-13, with Red Flash rookie Devin Sweetney's 13 rebounds equaling the
entire Monmouth team.
Corey Hallett pulled down Monmouth's lone rebound off the offensive glass
which Hallett turned
into a successful hook shot.
Monmouth is last in the NEC in total rebounds (504), over 100 less than
Robert Morris (611) which has played two less games.
"W've got to box out more, more so than just watching when the shot
goes up,'' said senior forward Marques Alston who had two rebounds vs. St.
Francis.
""All the players have to box out, not just the big
men, the guards have to box out,'' he said.
""It's (rebounding) has always been a problem historically (for)
Monmouth),'' said Calloway. "" But
rebounding is about wanting the ball.
""We're a little unique in the way we play (in the match up zone) so you
don't have a particular man you have to box out when you're guarding him, but
you have to find a man when the shot goes up.
"And then we've got to get offensive rebounds, too. There's no excuse for
having just one offensive rebound (Hallet's) - granted it was a big one.''
Alston generated some critical offense Thursday early in the
second half when he went to work down low to help lift Monmouth on top for
good.
"Since making my transition over to playing mostly center my job is to try
to work, get rebounds, get in the post, and score,'' said Alston.
""Guys are looking for me to score and I've been working hard trying to
get position.''
""A lot of times our offense is what the defensive gives, us,'' said
Calloway. ""A lot of times we've been getting Marques the ball and teams are
doubling him which, to be honest, is what I would do.
""He's been kicking it out and we've got to make shots. (Thursdsy night)
early in the first half we made some shots (5-for-8 from downtown)
which helped.''
Calloway did not play struggling senior center John Bunch in the
second half
Thursday.
""I just went with the group that at that point in time I thought would
help us win, the way the game was going,'' said Calloway. ""He's going to need
to play well (vs. RMU) if we're going to have a chance.''
Sophomore point guard Mike Shipman said defense will
determine the outcome.
""If we continue to play the way we
played (Thursday night) with some more
effort on defense and some more alertness on defense we should be all
right,'' he said.



Other stuff not in the story......

I was unable to attend practice today due to personal obligations - but did talk with Dave a little while ago..quotes are a mix of from tonight and also from after last night's game.

Deki (elbow)..ok..practiced today..Bunch..as I figured.. was just benched second half Thursday as Dave said above....wasn't injured. No lineup changes and Bunch still very much in the rotation.

Do you think starting back court should remain "Jet" and Whitney and bring Shipman off the bench? or another combination? Something of a moot point, though,
since I figure on increasing three guard looks for longer stretches, though depending on match ups.

At one point in the first half last night they had on the floor two frosh - Jhamar and Rickie, two sophs - Whitney, and Shipman, and one senior - Delic.


e-mail tonygsorts@aol.com.

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