Nov. 28, 2006
BOCA RATON, FL -- With a five-game road trip and the season's first win under its belt, the Florida Atlantic University men's basketball team will make its 2006-07 home debut on Tuesday against Florida Memorial before hosting Norfolk State on Saturday.
Head Coach Rex Walters has already seen growth among his team this season in both their play and their confidence.
"We have improved every game, but obviously couldn't get over the hump (during the first four games). I saw a lot of confidence (in the game against North Florida). We needed that win for our self-esteem," Walters said.
The Owls enter their home opener after earning their first win of the season at North Florida on November 22, 59-44, despite dressing just seven players. Sophomore guard Paul Graham has led FAU in scoring every game this season, averaging 17.6 points and 4.0 rebounds per contest, while sophomore forward Carlos Monroe gives FAU an inside threat, averaging 12.4 points and 6.8 rebounds a night. Graham also leads the team in minutes per game at 35.6.
FAU (1-4) has used just eight players this season, and all but one have started at least one game. Only two Owls, Brent Crews and Sean Alarcon, have started every game this season as Coach Walters has used four different starting lineups already this season.
The Owls are shooting 43.0 percent from the floor while allowing their opponents to hit 51.4 percent of their shots. Most of the damage has come from long range, as opponents are making 43.9 percent of their three-point attempts and average 8.6 makes per game.
The Lions, members of the NAIA Florida Sun Conference, come into the game at 2-3. FMU won its first two games of 2006-07, both on the road, against the College of the Bahamas and Morris College, 87-83, before dropping a 96-82 decision to Voorhees one day later.
During a Thanksgiving Tournament in St. Petersburg, FL, Florida Memorial dropped a 62-56 decision to Eckerd. The Lions were led by Tramaine Stevens' 30 points on 9-of-19 shooting and 10-for-11 night from the charity stripe. He also led the team with eight rebounds. Daniel Garcia came off the bench to add 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting.
The Lions were unable to earn a split on the weekend after falling to the University of Tampa the next day, 60-49 despite a 12-pont halftime lead. Stevens once again led the way with 19 points, going 8-of-22 from the floor. Garcia added nine points and six rebounds.
Norfolk State, a MEAC conference member, enters the week at 0-3 with a game on Tuesday against conference foe Hampton before Saturday's match-up with FAU. NSU has lost to Oklahoma, Longwood and Iowa State this season but have crept closer with each loss. The Sooners cruised to a 99-36 victory holding NSU to under 25 percent from the floor, and the Spartans were unable to overcome another poor shooting night and 19 turnovers against Longwood, dropping a 65-54 decision.
Despite committing another 21 turnovers against Iowa State, Norfolk State trailed by just seven at the half and despite falling behind by as many as 12 in the second half, finished the game strong only to come up short by eight, 57-49.
NSU is led by Calvin Brown and Tony Murphy, the team's two main offensive weapons. Brown averages 11.7 points per game to go with 7.0 rebounds and hits 58 percent of his shots from the floor. Murphy averages 10.0 points and 2.0 rebounds but has committed 13 turnovers against just two assists on the year. The Spartans are shooting just 33.5 percent from the floor on the year and allow their opponents to hit 47.7 percent of their shots.
"Every day we want to see improvement from our players," Walters said. "Hopefully we'll see that against Florida Memorial and then we can build on that improvement and once again get better against Norfolk State."
Tip-off against Florida Memorial is scheduled for 7 p.m., while the Norfolk State game is scheduled to start at 2 p.m.
Season tickets are still available for as low as $72. Fans can also purchase individual game tickets ($10 general admission for adults, $7 general admission for youth/seniors) or as a group ($5/ticket for groups of 15 or more). Tickets may be purchased through TicketMaster, on FAUsports.com, at the FAU Box Office located next to the Tom Oxley Athletic Center or by calling 1-866-FAU-Owls. They can also be purchased in the lobby of FAU Arena after gates the gates open. All arena doors will be open one hour prior to tip-off. There is no charge for parking during men's basketball games.