March 12, 2007
BOCA RATON, FL - The first campaign as a member of the Sun Belt Conference for the Florida Atlantic University men's basketball team exceeded almost everyone's expectations. The Owls (16-15, 10-8 SBC) posted the third-most conference wins as a first-year Sun Belt member and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament before falling to Western Kentucky.
"We accomplished a lot of things this year," Head Coach Rex Walters said. "We wanted to be special and at times this season we were. We made great strides, but we have so much further we can go."
Sophomore Carlos Monroe and senior DeAndre Rice earned Second-Team All-Sun Belt honors. Monroe was the only SBC player to finish the season in the top-six in scoring (3rd, 18.4) and rebounding (2nd, 9.4). He also led the Belt in field goal percentage at 59.7 and was sixth in offensive rebounding (2.63). Rice fell short of the minimum games played requirements to be included in the conference rankings, but his numbers still stacked up among the conference's elite. He would have ranked third in scoring (20.5), eighth in field goal percentage (50.2), first in three-point percentage (47.9), first in three-pointers made per game (3.2), fifth in free throw percentage (79.2), seventh in steals (1.52) and eighth in minutes played (34.2).
Senior Brent Crews, junior Jeff Parmer and sophomore Paul Graham also sprinkled the SBC leader boards. Parmer ranked 15th in rebounding (5.5), 12th in field goal percentage (47.8) and 12th in blocks (0.80) while Graham finished 15th in scoring (14.1), sixth in assists per game (3.31) and seventh in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.32). Crews ranked third in assists per game (4.67), ninth in steals (1.47) and fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.57).
The season also saw several adjustments to the FAU record books. Rice tied the school record with 39 points against Troy on February 3 and his scoring average (20.5) is the second-highest ever for a single campaign. The senior's 47.9 three-point field goal percentage is the highest in FAU's history.
Monroe's 496 points ranked sixth all-time and his 11 double-doubles are tied for the second-most in a single season. He grabbed the most defensive rebounds in FAU history with 183 and the fourth-most total rebounds with 254. His 9.4 rebounds/game is second on the all-time list.
Crews tied FAU's single-game assist record with 11 in the first round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament against Florida International and posted the second-most assists in FAU history with 140. He now owns the second and third-best assist campaigns in Owls history and finishes his career second on the all-time assist list with 273.
The 2,321 points scored by FAU this season is the most in the program's history, and the 475 assists is the second-best team mark.
As the season progressed, fan support grew, culminating with the biggest crowd at FAU Arena since 2002. 2,017 Owl fans packed FAU Arena The Burrow to watch Florida Atlantic defeat Florida International in the first round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
"It's very gratifying to know people believe in our guys and support our program," Walters said. "We wouldn't have beat FIU in the two games at home without those crowds. We have to continue to build this program and more people will come."
With the season complete, the Owls must say goodbye to Rice and Crews, who have helped accelerate the building process of FAU basketball.
"You're talking about replacing a guy who can score 39 points on any given night (in Rice), along with the heart and soul of your team and your emotional leader (in Crews)," Walters said. "It won't be easy."
FAU finished with a winning record for the second-consecutive season, the first time the program has achieved that feat since moving to the Division I level and first time since the team had three-consecutive winning seasons from 1989-90 to 1991-92.
With an extensive renovation project scheduled for FAU Arena, the team and fans alike may not recognize the building come next fall. FAU Arena is scheduled to receive a new roof, renovated and enlarged locker rooms, a team store, a new scoreboard and an upgraded façade and exterior.
"We're very excited about what's going on this summer," Walters said. "Melissa Dawson, Craig Angelos, President Brogan and others have done a great job in making this happen and we're going to do our best to make them proud."
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