Thursday, January 18, 2007

Stags need to build off of Iona win

The Stags New Year did not start in a good way, with five straight losses, but after Sunday's win over Iona, the whole season depends on where they go now. Fairfield had many chances over that losing streak to win going down the stretch, but failed to pull away and in the end let the game slip away from them. But against Iona, the Stags were able to hold a lead in overtime and picked up a much needed victory.

Now the Stags head into what is a very important matchup for them. Siena is 5-2 in the MAAC and appears to be a tough matchup for Fairfield, but if the Stags can continue to play solid defense, while getting the contributions from their guards that they did on Sunday, they will have a chance to pick up another key win and start of a stretch of wins.

The Stags two games after Siena are against Iona, who is yet to win a game all season, and St. Peter's who is 1-6 in the MAAC. Both of those games should be wins for Fairfield, as long as they do not make careless mistakes. But the Stags have to be careful that they do not fall on their faces against Iona or St. Peter's, because a loss could be deadly to their team.

After their fifth straight loss, to Rider, the Stags players looked down and upset following the loss, which is not what you want to see from a basketball team. It is easy to lose confidence in yourself when the shots aren't falling and the games are being lost in the final seconds. While the players were still saying that they would bounce back and that they just needed to find the luck, it was easy to see that they were on the verge of losing all confidence in their ability to win.

What they needed was a victory and they received that against Iona, no matter what the Gaels records may say, this was still a win that Fairfield needed and could prove to be one of the most important all season, just because it ended the Stags losing streak.

Now Fairfield needs a second straight win, to build momentum going into the Iona and St. Peter's games. With a win over Siena the Stags will suddenly be on a winning streak, a small one but a streak nonetheless and will be able to move to the next game with confidence. Fairfield could then very easily see its record rise to 6-5 in the MAAC, with four straight victories.

The Stags have shown that they have the talent to win, but now they have to put it all together. They are playing on the "big" stage against Siena, as the game will be broadcasted on ESPNU. The Stags needsto combine the strong guard play they received on Sunday, the defensive and rebounding efforts they have had all year, and the inside presence that Greg Nero `10 and Anthony Johnson `10 have provided off and on.

With Herbie Allen and Jon Han `09 on the floor at the same time, Nero and Johnson's role will increase even more, as they will be needed for rebounding and to force double teams down low, that will allow Han, Allen, and Michael Van Schaick `07 to get open shots. Allen and Han have had up and down seasons, with more ups than downs, but now is their chance to prove they can provide consistent scoring.

Anyways, I think that the Stags will find it within themselves to win this game against Siena. I predict a Stags victory, 60-56.

-Tom Cleary


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