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2009-2010 Blue Ribbon Preview: Florida Atlantic


2009-2010 Blue Ribbon Preview: Florida Atlantic

As usual, great work from the guys at Blue Ribbon…spot on!


There were probably nights when Mike Jarvis' unforced entrance at Florida Atlantic seemed as grueling as his forced exit at St. John's.

Asked if there were moments during his 6-26 debut in Boca Raton when he wondered, "What was I thinking?" after leaving a comfortable retirement for a challenging job, Jarvis paused long enough for the answer to seem obvious. But the 64-year-old Jarvis faithfully endured a relatively fruitless return to the bench.

"If I hadn't been born again and hadn't been saved, I would've died," Jarvis said with a laugh.

Senior all-conference forward Carlos Monroe was limited to 11 games because of an injury and eligibility issues. Versatile Xavier Perkins was an academic casualty after eight games. Sanchez Hughley, now a 6-4 red-shirt junior, missed the season with a blood clot in his left lung after averaging 6.4 points in 2007-08, and Sammy Hernandez was limited much of the season after suffering groin and hamstring injuries in December.

Things got so bad that walk-on Chris Coleman, a graduate student who had played the tuba four years in the FAU marching band, started against Western Kentucky. Coleman would make another start and ultimately averaged double-digit minutes.

"He ended up being one of our better players," Jarvis says through a chuckle that suggests this isn't much of an exaggeration.

It might have been more fitting had Coleman spent the season playing the music from Jaws on his tuba – buh bump, buh bump, buh bump – during games. The over-matched Owls would frequently kick and fight and stay afloat for 30 or 35 minutes, gamely delaying the inevitable.

FAU lost 76-69 at Kentucky – with Monroe in the lineup – was within 10 points fairly late in a 16-point loss at Davidson (Stephen Curry scored 39) and lost 10 games by seven or fewer points en route to a 2-16 Sun Belt record. Jarvis just didn't have the horses.

"And that pedigree will get you down the stretch," he said. "I knew help was coming, which helped me make it through our struggles."


Indeed, Jarvis is confident he has added some studs, particularly in 5-7 point guard Ray Taylor and fellow freshman DeMonte Simpson, a 6-9, 270-pound post. Taylor was a two-time all-state player in Florida and has won state championships and AAU national championships.

"I probably haven't been as excited about a point guard since I had Shawnta Rogers at George Washington," Jarvis said. "There might be times I even call him 'Shawnta.' Most coaches would say [Taylor] is a once-in-a-lifetime guard. I've been blessed. He's my second of a lifetime."

Taylor is the type of blur who uncannily seems to become faster and quicker when dribbling a basketball. Born to drive and dish, he's also a pesky defender who can make the short floater and three-pointers.

"He can change a game at either end of the floor," Jarvis said. "He's an excellent passer. Ray is going to find you."

Taylor led Miami Pace High School to the Florida 4A championship as a sophomore in 2007, then moved on to American Heritage High School. At American Heritage, he played alongside future Florida Gators Eloy Vargas and Kenny Boynton, Jr. and earned first-team Class 3A all-state honors as a senior.

Simpson has the hands to utilize Taylor's skills, including interior wrap-arounds from close range. A cousin of former Tennessee star Allan Houston, Simpson averaged a double-double at Bearden High School in Knoxville, Tenn., and had 24 points and 12 rebounds in an ESPN2 game against Oak Hill Academy. Bearden was 35-3 last season and Simpson earned first-team Class AAA all-state honors.

"If he takes off another 20 to 25 pounds he could be really, really good," Jarvis said. "He's got a chance of being special. You don't often find guys with that kind of size and those hands. DeMonte can probably catch better than any big man we have. And he can run."

Jarvis would like to play 6-8, 235-pound junior Brett Royster (7.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg) at power forward and Simpson and Mercer transfer Justin Davis, a 6-10, 250-pound sophomore, at center. Royster had 73 blocked shots last season. Simpson turned back 72 in his senior season at Bearden.

"Brett's at least 6-7 and a half and has 7-2 or 7-3 wingspan," Jarvis said. "He's a great athlete and has incredible timing as far as blocking shots."

Davis played in 21 games as a freshman at Mercer in 2007-08.

FAU will have competition for positions in practice, which didn't exist because of a short bench last season.

Point guard Alex Tucker (6.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 4.8 apg), a 5-11 sophomore, held his own while running the team as a freshman. Jarvis is comfortable with returning starter Shavar Richardson (11.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg), a 6-3 sophomore, and 6-3 freshman Greg Gantt at shooting guard.

FAU returns only 60 of last season's 173 three-pointers, and Richardson made 57 of those. Jarvis raves about the shooting stroke of the left-handed Gantt, a three-time Gainesville Sun Player of the Year who was still 17 when he enrolled in college. Gantt averaged 16.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and shot 80 percent at the free-throw line while leading Gainesville to a 5A state title.

"Gantt's a knock-down three-point shooter," Jarvis said. "Between he and Richardson, we should have the two covered. Richardson has worked incredibly hard and gotten a lot stronger."

Hughley could also end up back in the rotation. Jarvis wants to pick up the pace, particularly on defense, and Hughley would aid the cause.

"Actually, he's looking pretty good for a kid that hasn't played in a couple of years," Jarvis said. "He can defend, he has a great body and he can shoot the ball."

Jarvis was pleased to sign three other freshmen, 6-7 forward Andre Mattison, 6-6 forward Jordan McCoy and 6-4 guard Darren Stewart. Mattison played for former Jarvis player Vaughn Jones at Coolidge in Washington, D.C. He blocked six shots at the Capital Classic All-Star Game.

"He has a wingspan well over seven feet," Jarvis said. "He can play the three or four. He can shoot and put it on the ground, and he's a tough kid from D.C."

Stewart is an athletic defender who helped Miami's Monsignor Pace to a 4A state title. He charged the American Airlines Arena crowd with several dunks en route to a game-high 17 points in the South Florida All-Star Basketball Classic.

"Stewart is a lockdown defender," Jarvis said. "He can lock people up and throw away the key."

McCoy is a long-armed, undersized power forward.

"I fell in love with him," Jarvis said, "because I never saw a shot go up that he didn't block his man out."

Jarvis isn't sure of 6-6 sophomore Chris Watson's status. Watson has endured knee trouble and could redshirt after averaging 4.2 points and 3.7 rebounds as a freshman.



Florida Atlantic, it stands to reason, will be too young to thrive consistently in a veteran league. The Owls are replacing four of their top five scorers with the departures of Monroe, Perkins, Carderro Nwoji and leading scorer Paul Graham III.

Of course, they could grow up quickly. Nine of the first 13 games are away from home, including dates with USF, Miami, Maryland and Georgia.

Jarvis went to the Elite Eight in 1999 with St. John's, one of three programs – along with Boston University and George Washington – which he took to multiple NCAA Tournaments.

Jarvis is convinced he's assembled the foundation to potentially achieve the feat a fourth time.

Source: 2009-2010 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook

To order: www.blueribbonyearbookonline.com or 1-877-807-4857.

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Re: 2009-2010 Blue Ribbon Preview: Florida Atlantic

Great write-up!

Florida Atlantic University Owls
2007 Sun Belt Football Champions 2007 New Orleans Bowl Champions 2008 Motor City Bowl Champions 2011 Sun Belt Basketball Champions No Bowls without Owls
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Re: 2009-2010 Blue Ribbon Preview: Florida Atlantic

Agreed.  Nice article.  I can't wait for basketball season!  It should be exciting to see what Jarvis can do with an actual team and not just the scraps left over from the past two clowns we had running the team. 
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Re: 2009-2010 Blue Ribbon Preview: Florida Atlantic

fauowls44 said

It should be exciting to see what Jarvis can do with an actual team and not just the scraps left over from the past two clowns we had running the team.

Quote of the day!!!  :D
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