"I want to thank the Good Lord for waking us up today and allowing us to do what we love to do", Jarvis said. And that they did. It would come without the services of All Sun Belt forward Carlos Monroe, but Mike Jarvis took his first step towards becoming the second all time coach to win 100 games at four different universities last night as the Owls knocked of the Hawks of Monmouth University 72-69.
The going was slow during the first 5 minutes of play until Graham knocked down a long three which gave FAU a 7-4 lead. And back and forth three pointers by both sides would pace the remainder of the first half. But FAU found a long range rythym for the first time this season. The Graham/Richardson combo was hot; going six of eight from behind the "newly extended" three point line, which is 12 inches further out than last year. Heading into the lockeroom on top 38 -31, FAU had its first respectable half time lead of the season.
Monmouth came out firing to start the second and hit on thier first two shots - both threes. Fau responded with a 8-0 run capped off by a steal and slam by Watson (12 points, 5 rebounds). The Owls then built thier lead to 14 points at the 13:37 mark on a pair of free throws by Xavier Perkins (7 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists). But the Hawks slowly chipped away and were back to within two at the 1:40 mark, until a pair of free throws by Brett Royster put FAU back on top by four. Monmouth subsequently pushed the ball rather quickly to the other end and scored on a close shot in the paint with 26.9 seconds to play. Upset brewing? No. Carderro Nwoji (10Pts, 3RB, 3A) was fouled on the next two inbound plays, and was clutch at the line going 4 of 4.
Excitement filled The Burrow with 6.6 seconds left as Monmouth sprinted down the floor and dished it to thier hot hand Rutledge, who hit connected from long range to cut the Owls lead to one. After a questionable Owl's inbound pass, where the clock did not start right away (at .9 seconds), the referees conviened. Thanks to OwlTV's video coverage, the game clock was reset to .4 seconds and Graham, who had been fouled on the play, iced it for FAU with two free throws.
On "The Up", and "Above the Rim"
Among the many good things about the night's performance, long range efficiency finally found its way into the Owls hands; even if only for the first half (6-12, 50%). And FT%, and FG% was excellent at 83.3%, and 48.1% respectively.
There were long waits last season for the special feeling that comes from a slam dunk. Ah, but alas, a treat: Two from Royster, and two from true Freshman Chris Watson; all in one showing. Watson is living up to his pre-season hype as a high flyer. Royster is starting to emerge as well. Owl Fans should be thankful that they have them both for some time to come.
Breaking away from the norm, we'll award two recipients for tonight's game:
Considering Monroe's absense, Sophomore Brett Royster gave the Owls a much needed lift inside by contributing a career high 12 points.
Paul Graham was absolutely stellar with 19 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. He received well deserved praise from Jarvis after the game for his all around performance.
Hats off to "The Band"
Featuring an impressive drum line and wind section, The FAU Pep Band blasted out some quality tunes; all while being located just 10 feet from the Monmouth bench at closest proximity. Don't think the Hawks heard much of what head Coach Dave Calloway had to say during timeouts, but they sure heard the band. Advil anyone? Nice job guys.
Festive Crowd on Hand
An announced crowd of 1404 attended the contest. That was good for the best non conference showing at The Burrow since December 3, 2002 when the Miami Hurricanes came to town.
Jarvis on Monroe's return
Monroe was officially deemed a "game time decision" by the FAU adminsitration, but did not play "due to an eligibility issue that arose early in the Spring semester of 2008".
Spring Semester? What about Summer school? Coach, any comment?
"Im not going to talk about it", said Jarvis' during post game interviews. "He could be playing next Monday. He could be playing next Tuesday. I dont know."
Let's hope for the former. The Owls next take on major conference powerhouse Arizona this Monday, November 17th at 11:00PM EST, in a game that will be nationally televised on ESPNU. They could sure use him.