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Sunday, February 04, 2007

MU men's hoops story vs. FDU for Monday Press

By TONY GRAHAM
STAFF WRITER


WEST LONG BRANCH - A lively atmosphere.

That's what senior Marques Alston of the Monmouth University men's basketball team
expects this evening when the Hawks (10-12, 5-5) visit Fairleigh Dickinson (11-10, 6-4)
in a Northeast Conference game at the Rothman Center in Hackensack.

""It will be, especially how we ended up winning on their court last year,'' said
Alston.

The meeting between the teams is the first since the 2006 NEC Tournament
championship game at FDU when Chris Kenny's layup in the final seconds gave the Hawks a
stunning 49-48 victory over the regular season NEC champions.

""I'm sure they're going to be hyped up for this game just like any team would be,
especially on their home court,'' said Alston.

Alston said the game represents a potential "turning point" for Monmouth which, after three consecutive wins at Boylan Gym,
begins action in a three-way tie for sixth place in the NEC standings. But it is only one
game in the loss column behind third-place Quinnipiac.

""This is a big game,'' he said.

Monmouth is not only trying to prove it can win on the road, where the team is
currently 1-9, but knock off teams with winning records.

Monmouth has only defeated two teams with overall winning records this season in
Rider (12-10) and Robert Morris (14-7).

It has defeated just one team, Mount St. Mary's, with a winning record in the NEC
(7-5).

""That's important, especially with us being right at .500 in the league,'' said
Alston.

After Monmouth's prior home home stand in January the Hawks dropped all four games
on an ensuing road trip.

Monmouth's current trip is a two-gamer with a visit to Wagner Thurdsay before
returning home to face FDU again Monday.

""We can't do that again (fall apart on the road) with only eight games left
overall,'' said Alston. ""There's no room to do that.''

Though FDU graduated 2006 NEC Player of the Year Chad Timberlake and Second Teamer
Gordon Klaiber, and lost seven-footer Andrea Crosariol to professional basketball, the
Knights remain formidable.

""They're still talented,'' said Monmouth coach Dave Calloway. ""The still shoot the
ball very well and, hey, they beat a Big East team.'"

FDU knocked off Seton Hall which routed Monmouth.

Though two former Shore Conference players, junior guard Manny Ubilla (Freehold,
12.0 ppg.) and 6-6 junior forward Eric Hazard (CBA, 5.6 ppg.) have been significant
for FDU, center Andre Harris has emerged from the shadows.

The 6-8, 233 pound senior from Detroit leads the NEC in scoring at 19.0 ppg. and is
No. 2 in rebounding at 7.7 rpg. He tallied his 1,000th career point last week when he
scored 34 points in a win at Robert Morris.

""He was always good,'' said Calloway. ""Those others guys (last year) were so good,
too, and there's only one ball out there.

""This year they're distributing the ball better and making shots.''
Calloway is hoping 7-2 center John Bunch can continue to build off the level of
performance in which he scored 19 points, grabbed 19 rebounds, and blocked 16 shots
over the last two games at Boylan Gym.

In the four defeats on the recent road trip road Bunch scored a total of 10 points,
grabbed five rebounds, and blocked five shots.

""Last year it's seemed like he played better on the road and struggled at home,''s
aid Calloway. ""This year he's playing better at home and has struggled on the road. We
need him to step up.''

e-mail tonygsports@aol.com

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