2008 NCAA Tournament Capsule: American
Patriot League (21-11, 10-4)
Big Wins: 12/22 at Maryland (67-59), 2/6 at Holy Cross (62-46), 3/5 vs Holy Cross (62-60)
Bad Losses: 11/15 Fairfield (52-60), 1/16 at Bucknell (62-66), 1/30 Navy (66-77)
Last NCAA Appearance: none
Coach: Jeff Jones (6-5 in 5 NCAA appearances)
Derrick Mercer, Junior, Guard, 12.5 ppg, 4.1 apg, 3.2 rpg
Garrison Carr, Junior, Guard, 18.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg
Bryce Simon, Junior, Forward, 7.2 ppg, 2.2 apg, 4.1 rpg
Travis Lay, Senior, Forward, 6.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg
Cornelio Guibunda, Junior, Center, 2.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.0 bpg
Frank Borden, Junior, Guard, 2.7 ppg, 1.7 rpg
Brian Gilmore, Junior, Forward, 8.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg
Jordan Nichols, Junior, Forward, 4.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg
Why They Can Surprise:
Next season might be a bigger year for American University, but this is still a very experienced team full of upperclassmen. And it all starts with Derrick Mercer. The junior point guard will use his speed to get to the basket and finish or find his teammates. He dishes out about four assists per game and, while the turnover numbers are high, he does a good job knocking down the jumpers and running the team.
A majority of Mercer’s assists will go to Garrison Carr. Carr knocks down four three balls per game and hits nearly 45 percent of his attempts. That ranks in the top ten in the nation in both categories. When the Eagles need a big shot, you can be certain it will be Carr taking it. Carr, like most of the team, shoots very well from the charity stripe and if American finds themselves in a close game down the stretch, the free-throw shooting will almost definitely be in their favor.
Why They Can Disappoint:
Generally speaking a team in the Patriot League will be outmatched in March. The Eagles just do not have the athletes to compete with most teams in larger conferences. The three-point shot will give them a chance to stay in the game, but if AU gets behind, their style of play does not lend itself to mustering up a comeback. This is not a team that gets easy buckets off turnovers or feels comfortable pushing up the tempo and running the floor. Thus, if Carr is not hitting the long balls, there is not much else the Eagles can do to quickly put points on the board.
Who To Watch:
American will get points from Carr and Mercer, but the team will need the forwards to step up and score some buckets. Brian Gilmore, Bryce Simon, Travis Lay and Cornelio Guibunda help American put up decent numbers in the rebounding department, but if they are not scoring, Carr and Mercer will not have many open looks. Gilmore and Simon are decent scorers, but most of their points come from the perimeter. Guibunda is not on the floor to score and most of his limited offense will come from offensive rebounds. Unless somebody starts doing a little scoring in the paint, Carr will have a tough time shaking off the better athletes American will face in March.
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 65.5 (236th in nation, 4th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 62.3 (41, 3)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.7 (139, 1)
Field-Goal Defense: 41.3 (62, 4)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.0 (56, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 41.4 (4, 1)
Free-Throw Percentage: 74.4 (27, 2)
Rebound Margin: 2.6 (92, 2)
Assists Per Game: 12.0 (255, 7)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.9 (131, 2)
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