#83 Fairfield: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #83
Conference Rank: #1 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference
2009-10: 23-11, 13-5
2009-10 postseason: CIT
Coach: Ed Cooley (67-61 at Fairfield, 67-61 overall)
Despite a slew of injuries and an inexperienced backcourt, Fairfield managed to finish second to Siena in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. The absence of Anthony Johnson and Mike Evanovich will hurt a little bit, but getting back a trio of forwards who missed some or all of last season will easily make up for their absence. With a year of experience in the backcourt on top of that, not to mention the major departures from Siena, and Fairfield should be aiming much higher than the CIT this time around.
Key Losses: F Mike Evanovich, F Anthony Johnson, F Shimeek Johnson, G Jamal Turner
Coach Ed Cooley is not opposed to going nine or ten deep, so the freshmen will get a chance to play some minutes. Maurice Barrow is a wing who can score in a variety of ways and use his size and strength to help out on the glass. Keith Matthews may not be as dynamic of a scorer, but he is another 6-5 wing who will add even more depth to the team. Jamel Fields may have trouble finding minutes as a freshman unless he can develop into an efficient shooter off the bench.
Derek Needham came out of nowhere to lead the Stags with 16.4 points, 5.2 assists and 1.8 steals per game as a freshman. With a year of experience under his belt, Needham will be an obvious candidate for conference player of the year accolades. Needham is a decent outside shooter, but if he starts connecting on more than 30.7 percent of his three-pointers, nobody will be able to stop him. Lyndon Jordan spent most of the 2009-2010 season starting next to Needham, but failed to hang onto that starting spot. Still, he is the most experienced guard on the team and should play a big role whether he starts or not. Towards the end of the season Sean Crawford took over the starting job and did well. He proved to be a capable scorer and a relatively consistent shooter. Sophomore Colin Nickerson never found his shot last season, but he did earn some valuable experience.
Ryan Olander will miss having Anthony Johnson and Mike Evanovich in the frontcourt, but the 6-11 junior is ready to make a name for himself. Olander has never been asked to score much under the basket, that job belonged to Johnson, but he will be asked to do more this year and he has shown flashes that he can consistently score ten points a contest. Perhaps more importantly, Olander needs to continue to gain strength and become a bigger force on the glass. He will get help from the rest of the frontcourt, but a lot of the rebounds Johnson got last year, Olander will need to get this year. Evanovich was the team’s best outside shooter by far last year and that really stretched out the defense. Olander will not be Fairfield’s best shooter by any means, but he can step out beyond the arc and that will help open up the offense.
Who to Watch:
Warren Edney was a dynamic small forward two years ago before suffering an Achilles and ankle injury. That left him out of the lineup for the entire 2009-2010 campaign. Greg Nero has been hurt seemingly forever, but he is one of the toughest players around and even if the 6-7 forward is not at 100 percent, he will do everything he can to help out the Stags during his senior campaign. Edney should be good to go and step into a starting role, but anything Fairfield can get out of Nero is just a bonus…and a big bonus.
The other injured player last year was Yorel Hawkins. The 6-5 forward started all 19 games he played in last season and averaged 14.6 points and 5.5 rebounds. Despite his smaller stature, he can play the four spot and help Olander out on the glass. This is a team that lacks size, especially if Nero cannot return, so having a player like Hawkins who can block some shots and hit the glass hard is of vital importance. If he gets hurt again, Fairfield will not have the depth to recover like they did last season.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Derek Needham, Sophomore, Guard, 16.4 ppg
Sean Crawford, Junior, Guard, 4.9 ppg
Warren Edney, Senior, Forward, DNP last season
Yorel Hawkins, Senior, Forward, 14.6 ppg
Ryan Olander, Junior, Forward, 5.9 ppg
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