Two games into the season, albeit exhibition games, a couple things are quite apparent:
1. Xavier "X-Man" Perkins is a much improved player.
2. FAU is struggling from long distance.
The Owls knocked off a very feisty and fundamentally sound Rollins College squad last night 61 - 56. Rollins, who features four former D1 players on their roster and has considerable size for a DII program, hustled to the ball, crashed the boards, and ran a mostly perimeter oriented three point offense pretty well in the first half - while connecting on a respectable 43.3 FG%. But FAU slammed the defensive door shut in the second half, and held the Tars to a mere 16% FG%. The Owls also improved at the charity stripe going 20 of 26, good for 76.9%. This is welcomed news compared to the previous outing, and will be essential to maintain now that pre-season has ended.
After a halftime tie of 33-33, the Tars took a four point lead at the 15:54 mark in the second. But FAU regained control and would not relinquish the lead as it had done previously against Lynn University. This was partially due to a vocal display that resulted in a technical foul, on the Rollins bench (echo from last game) late in the second when the score was 58-56 in favor of the Owls. Prompting the outburst was a spectacular play by FAU center Brett Royster, who power swatted Rollin's Craig Reichel's last ditch low post effort out to half court for his fifth block on the night. Have no idea what they were upset about; clean block all the way.
Carlos Monroe, who had game highs in both scoring and rebounding in FAU's first exhibition game versus Lynn University, finished the night with 5 points, and a game high 16 rebounds. And this was by design. It was evident early on that Jarvis was not going to rely on Monroe (who had his number called only twice on the night), and wanted to test his backcourt's ability surrounding three point play. Not to be had. The Owls did not rise to the challenge and posted a 26.3 3PFG% for the contest.
The X-Man continued where he left off last game by putting up 12 points, 10 of which came at the line, and hauled in 6 rebounds. In contrast to last years play resembling that of a "Bull in a China Shop", X appears to have found his rhythm offensively at the small forward position. He is drawing fouls rather than charges, and is consistently pestering bigger players for rebounds in the paint. He did foul out after contributing 22 minutes, but 2 questionable "ghost fouls" had a hand in that happening.
Paul Graham saw both his minutes and output jump while contributing a game high 38 minutes to go with 16 points (3-8 from long range). Consistency will once again be the key for Graham, who has a habit of "disappearing" after such performances. Of note, his accomplice at the 2G, Shavar Richardson, was held out due to a minor hip injury, and should return Friday night.
Absent from play, but a vocal supporter throughout the night, PG Alex Tucker is still awaiting a go ahead from the NCAA clearing house before he can take the court. For those of you who remember the transition Monroe faced during his freshman year, Tucker's situation is very similar. Here's to hoping it will not be a 13 game wait.
The Owls will next host Monmouth this Friday, November 14th, at 7:00PM in what will be the official start to the 2008-09 season. The contest will also mark the beginning to the Mike Jarvis era at FAU, and his quest to become the second all time coach to win 100 games at four different schools.