Reserve guard Paul Graham III has led the Owls in scoring (17.8 ppg) In FAU's last five games. BRYAN PARKER PHOTO
March 7, 2008
Quarterfinals - Sunday, 6:30 p.m. CT
#7 Florida Atlantic (15-17) vs. #2 Arkansas-Little Rock (19-10)
Semifinals - Monday, 9:00 p.m. CT
#7 Florida Atlantic (15-17) vs. #3 WKU (24-6) or #6 N. Texas (20-10)
Championship - Tuesday, 8:00 p.m. CT
Florida Atlantic (15-17) vs. TBD
FLORIDA ATLANTIC: Florida Atlantic (15-17) is the seventh-seed in the 2008 Sun Belt Conference postseason tournament. FAU defeated rivals Florida International (9-20), 91-64, Wednesday at home. It was the second consecutive season the Owls defeated FIU in SBC first round play at the FAU Arena. The Owls have won 8-of-11 and move on to play Arkansas-Little Rock (19-10) in quarterfinal action Sunday night. FAU will draw the tournament's three-seed, Western Kentucky (24-6), or six-seeded North Texas (20-10), in the semifinals if it were to get past UALR. Little Rock defeated FAU, 80-76, on January 27, in a close game on the Trojans home floor. Owls junior forward Carlos Monroe (15.6 ppg/9.4 rpg) is one of the most talented players in the league. Monroe earned First Team All-Sun Belt Conference honors earlier in the week.
THE SERIES WITH UALR: The all-time series between FAU and Arkansas-Little Rock is even at 1-1. The two teams met for the first time last season in Boca Raton, with FAU winning 75-71 on its home floor. The Trojans edged the Owls 80-76 earlier this season in Little Rock in a game that had nine lead changes, with FAU leading by as many as five in the second half.
FAU VERSUS POSSIBLE SEMIFINAL OPPONENTS: This season... lost both to WKU (88-78 March 1 at home; 80-62 Jan. 16 on the road); defeated North Texas (86-81 Jan. 12 at home)
TV/RADIO/INTERNET: All FAU games this season will air live on commercial radio WMEN - 640 AM. Ken LaVicka (play-by-play) will call all of FAU's games at the SBC Tournament in Mobile. Additional audio links to WMEN's radio broadcasts are accessible via Florida Atlantic University's official athletics website (FAUSPORTS.com). ESPN+ will broadcast both of the SBC semifinal games on Monday. ESPN2 will air Tuesday's championship game. Sam Smith (play-by-play) and Wimp Sanderson (analysis) will call the semifinal games for ESPN+. Bob Wischusen (play-by-play) and Adrian Branch (analysis) will call the championship game on ESPN2.
COACH WALTERS (2ND YEAR): Florida Atlantic head coach Rex Walters (Kansas '93) joined the FAU staff on April 20, 2005 and one year and eight days later he was promoted from associate head coach to become a head coach for the first time in his coaching career. In his first season at the helm (2006-07), Walters guided Florida Atlantic to its second-consecutive winning season. It marked the first time FAU posted back-to-back winning campaigns since the team enjoyed three straight years of .500-plus basketball from 1989-90 to 1991-92. Walters guided the Owls to 10 Sun Belt Conference wins a a year ago, the third-most for a first-year Sun Belt member. Walters' first collegiate coaching job came at Valparaiso- a two-year stint as an assistant under Homer Drew. His coaching career began in 2002-03 in Overland Park, Kansas, where he served as an assistant coach for the Blue Valley Northwest High School team that reached the Kansas Class 6A State Tournament. Walters' pedigree for coaching began as a player, receiving tutelage from some of the game's legendary coaches. Roy Williams at the University of Kansas and the NBA's Chuck Daly, Larry Brown and Pat Riley all mentored Walters during his years as a player.
PEAKING AT THE RIGHT TIME: The Owls finished the month of February 6-2 and have won 8-of-11 heading into SBC Tournament play in Mobile. FAU has rebounded nicely from a 1-7 overall start and a 0-5 conference beginning to push its record to 15-17, completing the regular season 8-10 in league play.
MONROE NAMED FIRST TEAM ALL-SUN BELT: Junior forward Carlos Monroe was named to the 2007-2008 All-Sun Belt Conference First Team, as announced by the league office Tuesday. Monroe won the league's rebounding title, pulling down 9.4 rebounds per game this season. He is the only player in the conference to rank in the top six in both rebounding and scoring (15.6 ppg). The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania native has posted 13 double-doubles. Monroe shoots an outstanding 52% from the field and 13 times in 19 Sun Belt games Monroe has scored 15 points or more. Five different times versus Sun Belt competition Monroe has pulled down 13-plus rebounds. Monroe has now earned all-conference recognition in each of his three seasons at Florida Atlantic. Last season he was named to the All-Sun Belt Conference Second Team and as a freshman garnered All-Atlantic Sun Conference All-Freshmen Team honors.
THE VERY LATEST: In FAU's last five games (3-2)... reserve guard Paul Graham III has led the Owls in scoring (17.8 ppg)... point guard Carderro Nwoji has averaged (14.8 ppg)- four more than his season-average... Carlos Monroe, the league's top rebounder, has cleared 11.4 rpg... the Owls are scoring 81.8 points per game in last five... routed FIU Wednesday night at home 91-64 and won its second conference road game last week at Troy 99-93.
LAST TIME OUT: Carderro Nwoji scored a career-high 20 points and Florida Atlantic beat Florida International 91-64 in the first round of the Sun Belt Conference tournament on Wednesday night, avenging two regular-season losses to its rival. Carlos Monroe scored 16 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, while Jeff Parmer and Paul Graham III each scored 12 points for the Owls, who won for the eighth time in their last 11 games. Nwoji was 5-for-6 from 3-point range for the Owls, who were 12-for-18 beyond the arc as a team. Russell Hicks scored 18 points and Alex Galindo finished with 15 for FIU (9-20), which lost to FAU in the Sun Belt's opening round for the second straight year. FAU took command quickly, running out to a 22-7 lead after 8 minutes. Nwoji hit two of the Owls' four 3-pointers in the early going, while Florida International missed eight of its first 10 shots.
FAST STARTS KEY FOR FAU: FAU is 11-1 when leading at the half this season. FAU's largest halftime lead was 37 against Longwood (2/11/08). FAU led by 27 against FIU en route to its blowout win Wednesday.
8-0 WHEN SCORING 80+: FAU is 8-0 when scoring 80 or more points. All eight of those games have come in the months of January-March. Last Wednesday's total of 99 against Troy was FAU's highest scoring game of the year. Wednesday's rout of FIU and 91-point output marked the third time this year the Owls scored 90+.
PLAYING AND WINNING CLOSE GAMES: FAU is 9-5 in games this season decided by six points or less. Additionally, the Owls won its only overtime game of the year thus far, edging Denver 70-68, Jan. 24.
22-6 AT HOME: FAU is 22-6 when playing at home spanning the past two seasons. The Owls finished the 2007-08 season 11-4 overall in Boca Raton (7-3 vs. SBC teams). FAU enjoyed a seven-game home winning streak from January 12-February 11 this season.
LAST WEEK'S STAR: Guard Paul Graham III scored a team-high 17 points against WKU Saturday, following a career-high 27 in FAU's road win over Troy, 99-93, Wednesday. Graham was 14-of-24 from the field (.583 %) during the week, with his effort Wednesday night allowing FAU its second SBC road victory of the season. The junior from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is scoring a team-leading 17.8 points per game over FAU's five outings.
NWOJI STEPPING UP PLAY: Junior transfer Carderro Nwoji scored a career-high 20 points against FIU on Saturday- making five three-pointers (also a career-high). Recent play has seen him score 16 vs. WKU Saturday and 19 at Troy Wednesday. His five assists Saturday vs. FIU matched a season-high. Over the last five games he has averaged (14.8 ppg)- four more than his season-average. FAU's junior floor-leader has immediately established himself as one of the top point guards in the Sun Belt Conference this season, one-year removed from leading Redlands CC (Kansas) to a 31-2 record and No. 2 national ranking.
MONROE SHATTERS FAU REBOUNDING RECORDS: Carlos Monroe, the league's leading rebounder (9.4 rpg), has totaled 302 rebounds this season- eclipsing the previous FAU season record of 263 by Raheim Brown in 2001-02. His 634 career rebounds is best all-time in FAU history. Amazingly Monroe still has one more full season to play.
SBC LEADERS: Monroe (1st rebounding 9.4)... Nwoji (3rd Assist/Turnover Ratio 1.6)... Nwoji (4th assists 3.6)... Royster (5th blocked shots 1.3)... Nwoji (5th Minutes played 33.2)... Monroe (6th scoring 15.6)... Monroe (8th FG% 52.3)... Nwoji (8th 3FG% 41.3).
MONROE & NWOJI ONLY TWO TO START EVERY GAME: Carlos Monroe and Carderro Nwoji are the only two players to start in all 32 of FAU's games this season. The Owls starting lineup changed 10 times in the first 15 games of the season before the combination of Nwoji, Alarcon, Hughley, Parmer, and Monroe was settled on in game #16.
LAST COLLEGE GAMES: Derrick Simmons... Florida Atlantic's only four-year senior, Simmons has played for three different coaches at FAU... a key contributor since his sophomore season... inserted into the starting line-up as a sophomore, and led the team in field goal shooting percentage in 2005-06... made 15 starts as a junior, enjoying a career-night, scoring 21 points against Troy. Sean Alarcon... senior guard and local product Sean Alarcon is a standout student-athlete. He immediately made an impact on the FAU program upon his arrival a year ago. One of the most accomplished 3-point shooters in junior college history... has emerged as a fixture in the Owl's starting lineup this season. Doing anything asked of him by the coaching staff, Sean is the consummate team-leader. Jeff Parmer... from Niagara Falls, New York has enjoyed a tremendous amount of success as a student-athlete, dating back to making a trip to the NCAA Tournament as an underclassman with Providence before transferring to FAU for his junior and senior seasons. A two-year starter for the Owls, Parmer has been instrumental in FAU's success this season and last.
WORKING ON NEXT YEAR: Rex Walters has announced the letter of intent signings of two new players for the 2008-09 season. FAU signed six-foot-six forward Dago Pena from Punta Gorda, FL. Pena averaged nearly 16 points and six rebounds a game as a junior. He was named class 5-A third-team all-state in Florida last year, and is a top 100 prospect in the nation according to Slam Magazine. The Owls also signed six-foot-two guard Shavon Shine from DeSoto High School in Arcadia, FL. Shine averaged 18 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals in his junior season. He was named to the Florida class 4-A honorable mention all-state team, and was named Charlotte Sun-Herald first team all-area. Both Shine and Pena are currently teammates on the highly respected Florida Rams AAU team.
MONROE REACHES 1,000-POINT PLATEAU: FAU junior forward Carlos Monroe scored 24 points against Denver on January 24 to become the sixth 1,000-point scorer in FAU history. Monroe passed Mike Bell with his performance and now stands in fifth place all-time on the career points list at FAU. Monroe has a chance to pass Damon Arnette for fourth place all time before the end of the season. Arnette scored 1,246 points in his FAU career.
SHOOTING FOR THREE: Last February's win over South Alabama clinched a winning regular season for FAU for the second-consecutive year. The Owls are now trying to finish the 2007-08 season strong in attempt to string together three winning seasons for the first time since the program moved to D-I in 1995-96. FAU had three consecutive winning campaigns from 1989-90 to 1991-92 in Division II.
ONE SHINING MOMENT: FAU is seeking its second-ever NCAA tournament appearance this season. The Owls earned their only previous invitation with an automatic berth as Atlantic Sun champions in 2001-02. As a 15 seed, FAU pushed second-seeded Alabama to the brink in a hard-fought 86-78 first round loss. The Crimson Tide, possibly staggered by that stern test, fell to eventual Elite 8 "Cinderella" Kent State in a 71-58 final in the second round.
FEELING A DRAFT: Former Owl guard DeAndre Rice became the first FAU player ever selected in the NBDL Draft on 11/01/07. Last year's team scoring leader was chosen 46th overall by the Tulsa 66ers with the fourth pick in the fourth round. The 66ers are the primary affiliate for three NBA clubs - the Dallas Mavericks, the Milwaukee Bucks and the New York Knicks.