March 7, 2006
BOCA RATON, FL - A season of growth, a season of success, a season historic for the Florida Atlantic University men's basketball team.
The first campaign under head coach Matt Doherty came to a close Thursday evening, March 2, when the Owls were upset by the Stetson Hatters at the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament in Johnson City, Tenn. The loss concluded a 15-13 season that included a 14-6 record in the A-Sun, the best in school history.
"I wrote on the board for the players the word `winners,'" said Doherty after a day of reflection on the loss. "We are all disappointed about our game. I think these players can walk away from the experience this season holding their heads high, feeling good about themselves and what they accomplished. I want them to feel good about themselves; I want them to feel proud."
The Owls lose four seniors from this year's squad, starting with First Team All-Conference selection Rodney Webb. Webb netted nine points and 11 boards in his final game and ended the season averaging 15.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.
He led the team with 19 blocks, contributed 31 steals and shot 53.2% from the field. His final campaign included an Owl season-best 30 points against East Tennessee State on Feb. 16.
Classmate Quinton Young averaged 7.2 points per game this season and was among the A-Sun's best from long range, shooting 46.9% beyond the arc. Fred Marshall provided the Owls with stability in the post, adding 4.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game, while fellow senior Lamar Moore chipped in a point per game.
"Led by those seniors, we accomplished a lot of things with the best record in A-Sun history for FAU and a winning record, the first winning record since 2002," stated Doherty. "With so many new faces, coming together as a team is something that we are all proud of."
The loss to Stetson signaled the program's exit from the A-Sun, as Florida Atlantic moves to the Sun Belt Conference next season. With the new faces from 2005-06 now working as a unit and more help on the way, FAU is replacing years of gradual growth with a future as bright as at any time during its 13 years in Division I.
Primary among the new faces this past season were junior DeAndre Rice and freshman Carlos Monroe. Rice led the Owls with 16.1 points per game and finished second in assists and steals, while Monroe was named All-Freshmen by the conference after averaging 11.0 points and 4.6 rebounds in just 17 games.
The wealth of new talent did not stop there for Doherty: "Kevin (Green) starts for us, Brent (Crews) starts for us, DeAndre Rice starts for us. Carlos is All-Freshmen, and Paul Graham is a pretty darn good freshman. To get five out of six that were main contributors in that short a period of time is a real credit to our staff."
Green, a junior, made 15 starts at point guard and ended the season averaging 5.7 points and totaling 46 assists. Crews, joined by Green and Rice as junior college transfers, led Florida Atlantic with 133 assists and 43 steals while doing much of the ball handling from his small forward position.
Graham's 7.0 points per game were fifth on the team, and the freshman showed tremendous growth as a passer, accumulating 25 assists during the final eight games of the season. Freshman David Manning, who redshirted this year, was the sixth player Florida Atlantic signed in just over four months from Doherty's hire date on April 18, 2005, to the start of the school year.
Even with five new regulars, the Owls gelled quickly and showed an unselfishness that defied the record books. FAU finished with the best assist-to-turnover margin in the last decade and had eight games of 20 or more assists, also the highest mark in more than 10 years.
"To have the assist-to-turnover ratio that we did without really playing a true point guard was a credit to our team," noted Doherty. "That was something I was a stickler on all of the time, and for the most part we did a pretty good job."
With juniors-to-be Derrick Simmons (4.3 ppg, 55.6% field goals) and Ty McTyer (35 assists, 20 steals), the Owls have seven returnees whose contributions should be significant in 2006-07. In addition, Doherty is looking for immediate contributions from a recruiting class that is six strong.
"Tavarus Harris at Palm Beach Community College may be one of the quickest players I will have coached. A natural leader, a high-energy talker. To have a point guard that talks will be very beneficial.
"Eni Cuka, a transfer from Niagara, is originally from Turkey. He is a combo guard that really has a good feel for the game. Then, we have Jeff Parmer, a 6-7, 6-8 forward from PBCC who can really pass, handle and shoot the ball. He's one of the best passing big guys I have seen and he can shoot the three.
"Avery Holley from Eli High School (Pompano Beach, Fla.) is small - about 5-8 - but is a true point guard; he is quick as heck. Xavier Perkins (Boca Raton, Fla./Saint Andrews School) played in the state championship game this season, and Sanchez Hughley (Longwood, Fla./Lyman High School) played in the state tournament as well.
"Tavarus and Jeff are playing in the junior college state tournament. It is good that the players we have coming in are good players that are in winning programs, so we are excited about that."
Those winning players will be joining a program that proved it can win in 2005-06. That speaks of a tradition being built and a bright future for Florida Atlantic men's basketball.
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