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Friday, December 14, 2012

The Battle at Barclays: Princeton (3-5) at Fordam (1-8)


Princeton (3-5, 0-0) at Fordham (1-8, 0-0)
2:30 Saturday, Barclays Center. Brooklyn NY
Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival
Coaches: Princeton – Mitch Henderson (2nd year, 23-17). Fordham – Tom Peroca (3rd year at Fordham, 18-48, 173-174 overal)

Princeton Projected Starters:
F – Ian Hummer, 6-7, Sr., 15 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 4.9 apg. F – Will Barrett, 6-10, Jr., 8.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.6 apg. C – Brendan Connolly, 6-11, Sr., 6.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1 apg. G – T.J. Bray, 6-5, Jr., 6.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 3.9 apg. G – Denton Koon, 6-8, Soph., 5.1 ppg, 2.0 rpg. 0.8 apg.
Key reserves:
G – Clay Wilson, 6-3, Soph., 9.1 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 0.5 apg. F – Mack Darrow, 6-9, Sr., 2.9 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 1.3 apg

Fordham Projected Starters:
G – Branden Frazier, 6-3, Jr., 15.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 4.7 apg. G – Jermaine Myers, 6-0, Fr., 4.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.9 apg. G – Bryan Smith, 6-2, Soph., 9.4 ppg. 4.1 rpg, 1.3 apg. F – Ryan Canty, 6-9, Soph., 7.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 0.3 apg. F – Chris Gaston, 6-7, Sr., 11.3 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 1.0 apg
Key reserves: F – Travion Leonard, 6-8, Fr., 6.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg. G – Jeffrey Short, 6-4, Soph., 7.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 1.3 apg. F – Ryan Rhoomes, 6-8, Fr., 3.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 0.4 apg.

Quick Take:
The Rams have certainly struggled in the win/loss column early this season, but they are expecting a boost (at least according to theFordham website) from the return of preseason all-A10 forward Chris Gaston, who missed the last six games with a knee injury. Gaston averaged 17.1 points and 9.9 rebounds last season, so even if he isn’t at 100 percent, he should pose a legitimate challenge to a Princeton frontcourt that has struggled at times against smaller, more aggressive frontcourts.

With Gaston out of the lineup, coach Tom Pecora was able to get more minutes for sophomore forward Ryan Canty, who has emerged as a pleasant-enough surprise for the Rams to get this complimentary article in theNew York Post. As noted in that article, however, it’s unclear if Canty will play Saturday due to an altercation with a referee in Fordham’s 58-47 loss to St. Johns. If Canty is benched, look for freshman Ryan Rhoomes to take his place.

Though extremely small—they start three players under 6-foot-3—the Rams do have some nice offensive firepower on the perimeter. Their most dangerous scorer is sophomore Branden Frazier, who is leading the team in both points (15.2) and assists (4.7) per game. That said, he is shooting the ball at an abysmal 33.6 percent clip (and just 25.5 percent from range) which could be a recipe for disaster against the stout Princeton defense. As a team, the Rams’ field goal percentage is under 40 percent.

Given the composition of his roster, and the way Princeton has struggled recently against pressure from Wagner and Drexel, it is a fair bet to assume that the Rams will probably try to press the Tigers at some point in the game. How well Princeton handles that pressure—especially down the stretch, where the Tigers have not been good this season—could be the biggest factor in determining the outcome of the game.

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