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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Steve Edelson's Tuesday column on FDU game

I, personally, thought this was right on target and also addresses many of the recent comments on our blog...(he does not have app e-mail for whatever reason)

Hawks need to figure out who they are, and fast
Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 02/13/07


I t was supposed to be a back-alley slugfest. The kind of critical, late-season game where Monmouth lures an opponent into Boylan Gymnasium, patiently suffocates them with a stingy matchup zone and a methodical offense that leaves them frustrated.
Which is why what actually transpired on Monday night left you shaking your head. The pace was suicidal from the outset. The Hawks' fate became increasingly apparent with each streak of navy blue that raced unfettered to the basket for an easy transition hoop, as Fairleigh Dickinson shot an unbelievable 59.4 percent from the floor.
At the other end, the Hawks, who needed the win desperately with first-place Central Connecticut coming to town Thursday night, were out of their element in a helter-skelter environment.

What you have is a team with a serious identity crisis.

For whatever reason, this group has never fully embraced the core values that have been the backbone of Monmouth basketball for two decades now. The basic principles that have been at the heart of their run of six straight winning seasons, the most by any Division I team in the region, with three March Madness appearances during that time.

The 1-2-2 zone defense looks more like an afterthought than a calling card, and they seem unsure whether they want to be UNLV or commit to an offense that has proven so effective for the program in the past.
Consequently, another campaign over the .500 mark is looking more and more unlikely, and an NCAA Tournament berth seems farfetched.

"Every single (NEC) tournament, when we've played six halves, five out of those six we've held the opponents to under 30 points," coach Dave Calloway said. "And when we've played a team for the second time we've always played them better the second time."

With the NEC Tournament now just a few weeks away, the Knights waltzed in and scored 46 in the first half and 38 in the second. And a week after losing at FDU on a buzzer-beater, Monmouth lost by 13 in a game that wasn't really that close.

Either the Hawks are going to buy into what Calloway's selling, and quickly, or they'll be playing just two halves in this year's NEC Tournament.
Right now, you're not sure what this Monmouth team is all about. And quite frankly, that's because they're not so sure.

On this night, they got lured into a sense of security when they were able to hang with the Knights for the first 12 minutes, as a Marques Alston bucket pulled them within a point at 29-28.

Instead, a feeling of impending doom should have been pulsating through the entire team, and FDU promptly went on a 17-3 run to end the first half.

Alston can't play at that tempo for 30 minutes or more. That basket gave him 11 points, and he never scored again over the final 28 minutes. Center John Bunch may have finished with 13 points, but he only had two in the first half when he was rendered ineffective in run-and-gun situations.

This team's not talented or experienced enough to make it happen with smoke and mirrors. The only way they can win important games is by sticking to the tactics that have worked so well in the past.

Against Central Connecticut, which is running away with the regular-season title, the Hawks have to transform themselves into a Monmouth team the fans can recognize. A team the players themselves can recognize.

It's not too late to turn it around in a conference where no team is considered unbeatable. What it's going to take is a little faith by the players in Calloway and his staff, placing their trust in a system that's taken this program to new heights in recent years.

Stephen Edelson is an Asbury Park Press staff writer


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Tony,

Unfortunately we are in a heap of trouble. Our leader is 1. A freshman. 2. Our leader is hurt. He was the only one attempting to give it his all out there last night and appeared to be in agony. What the heck are we gonna do Thursday?

9:12 PM, February 13, 2007  
Blogger Tony Graham said...

I did not talk to Dave today..and, due to medical issues in my family which are the reasons for some future hours away from the blog, will not be able to attend practice Wednesday.

But..I do plan to be in touch with DC in the morning and then again after practice for any updates.

My guess would be, and this is merely a guess, that Jhamar Youngblood (knee bruise suffered in Wagner game last Thursday) did not practice much today and may be limited Wednesday but unless he is more seriously injured than I am aware, will start Thursday.

This should - in my opinion - be his team beginning next year if he desires and or is willing to accept the role.

9:26 PM, February 13, 2007  

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