Preview: Rutgers vs. Lafayette

Rutgers is growing as a team. Coming off a solid victory against Princeton, it's time to turn their complete attention toward the Lafayette Leopards. Sound easy? Sound boring? What a gold star on their resume if they were to defeat a Big East team. Fifty five minutes west of New Brunswick, this is what I know about the visitors from Easton, Pa

The alma mater of Princeton legend Pete Carril, a 1952 AA player and National Basketball Hall of Fame member, Lafayette fields a D1 basketball team with 13 scholarship players. Are they the caliber of players found in the Big East or the ACC? Not really, but they play hard and like to win. These are the key players we can expect to see:

G – 14 – Andrew Brown 5’11” junior ….. assist leader, leading scorer, deadly 3 pt shot, 88% FT

G - 21 – Bilal Abdullah 6’5” senior…. 2nd in scoring

G – 4 – Michael Gruner 6’1” soph

G – 12 – Paul Cummins 6’3”senior

G – 23 – Jeff Kari 6’2” soph

G – 24 – Deirunas Visockas 6’3” freshman

F – 32 – Matt Betley 6’4” senior

F – 40 – Ted Detmer 6’7” senior

C/F – 13 – Everest Schmidt 6’7” senior

Basically 6 guards and 3 forwards see most of the action. Laden with guards, veteran coach Fran O’Hanlon has his players operate a motion offense which leads to the potential for big assist numbers and open shots. Lafayette is not very big, but is a veteran team that has logged a lot of minutes together. This team can flat out shoot the ball. This season they’re hitting 45% on 2 pointers, 41% from long range and 68% on free throws. Without a large line up, they like to chuck it up from the cheap seats. Last year, Lafayette was 25th nationally with 256 points scored from beyond the arc. This season they are on pace to score 354 points from the 3 point range. Junior guard (14) Andrew Brown is the star of the offense and must be neutralized but watch out for freshman sensation (24) Deirunas Visockas. He is just beginning to work his way into the line up and could be the best player on the team. In 5 games he has shot 67% from the floor and an amazing 72% on his 3 pointers.

Defensively, expect to see a very quick team that looks for steals and attempts to simply disrupt the opposition offense with a lot of switching. Undersized but energetic forward (32) Matt Betley is a scrappy player who is flies around for rebounds, is nimble enough to block shots and will dive to the floor for any loose balls.

Rutgers must stay on point and take this club seriously. They should have a huge rebounding advantage inside with N’Daiye, Joynes, Griffin and Inman. You can bet the Leopards will do all they can to slow down JR offensively and Hamady should have opportunities to score from the paint. The guards will be key. Lafayette will use 6 different guards in a variety of combinations in an attempt to stay fresh and work for the open shot. The guards must stay sharp and deny as many 3 pointers as possible. Defense will win this game.

Don’t ease off of this team. It won’t be an easy night. Lafayette wants to come away from this game with an upset…. in the same way Harvard recently dumped Michigan.

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