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Sunday, February 25, 2007

MU men's story for Monday Press (the last preview?)

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By TONY GRAHAM
STAFF WRITER

The Monmouth University men's basketball team may have more lives than a
cat.
Apparently bordering on elimination from the 2007 Northeast Conference
Tournament after Friday's defeat by Sacred Heart, other NEC weekend results
translated in Monmouth's favor.
So Monday for the third time in a week Monmouth (12-17, 7-10) is looking
at a win and in situation if it claims a victory at last place St. Francis, Pa. (7-21, 4-
13).
It would also qualify if it loses and if Long Island falls
to Robert Morris and
St. Francis, New York is defeated by Fairleigh Dickinson.
If Monmouth makes it, the Hawks will land anywhere from the eighth and
last qualifying position to sixth
place.
Monmouth would open the NEC Tournament Thursday at either regular season
champion Central Connecticut State, Sacred Heart, or Quinnipiac.
The Hawks are 0-5 this season vs. those teams but would happily take their
chances.
Monmouth coach Dave Calloway has labeled all of its games since last week as playoff
games.
""I guess we lost a playoff game Friday,'' he said. ""It must be double
elimination.''
Calloway hopes Monmouth is able to make the most of yet another and final
opportunity to lock up a post season berth.
""We haven't taken advantage of any opportunities we've had,'' he said.
""You've got to take this as a playoff game. And if we're going to keep
winning we're going to be on the road.""
Monmouth is 3-11 on the road this season, 2-6 in the NEC.
""This is a road playoff game and that's how you've got to approach it,''
Calloway said.
It would behoove the Hawks to approach defending the 3-point shot better
than they have much of the season.
Sacred Heart lit up Monmouth with an 11-for-20 showing from deep Friday
night after LIU went 11-for-28 last week.
For the season Monmouth is next to last in the NEC in 3-point defense
(.389). Ironically only the Red Flash (.402) is worse.
Offensively the Hawks are fourth in 3-point percentage (.369)
and St. Francis is
fifth (.364).
So are any Monmouth defensive adjustments in the wind? ""Yeh, guard the
guy with the ball,'' said Calloway, repeating his often used refrain this
season.
" "We work on it every day,'' he said. ""It's just a matter of committing to it and
grasping it.
""I don't know if we've done either, if we're committed to it the way we
need to be, and we're definitely not grasping it.''
Saturday Saint Francis shot
65.0 percent in the first half to earn a home court 72-56 win over Long
Island.
Senior Jelani Lawrence and redshirt freshman
Devin Sweetney (13 points, 11 rebounds), who appears to be rivaling Monmouth's Jhamar Youngblood for
NEC Rookie of the Year honors, both had double-doubles
in the second straight victory for the Red Flash.
Sophomore Cale Nelson
led Saint Francis with 19 points and 7 assists.
""It sounds like they're playing well,'' said Calloway. ""They want to go
out with a win and build for next year.
""We want to move on.''
Monmouth downed St. Francis Jan. 25 in Boylan Gym, 71-66.
e-mail tonygsports@aol.com.

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