Princeton gets one last benchmark before starting Ivy play against Penn by visiting Elon on Saturday afternoon.
To get to know the Phoenix (four of five starters not pictured above), I traded emails for the second straight season with Brian Hooper AKA ElonFirefighter of Elon Phans for ninth Know! Your! Foe! of the campaign.
If you cover a team the Tigers will face down the line, let us know.
First of all, Happy New Year! What's new for Elon in 2012-13 and what's similar to the team Princeton saw win by one at Jadwin a year ago?
We are pretty much the same core team. Excluding the loss of Drew Spradlin, we have returned the top six players from last year. The only difference is that they are a little bit older and a little bit wiser. With our core five all juniors and one sophomore, I look for this team to continue to build momentum.
At 8-5 and having four losses to teams in the Pomeroy Top 120, has Matt Matheny's squad taken a significant step forward in his fourth season at the helm?
Matheny had a great mentor at Davidson College in Bob McKillop. Since coming to Elon he has tried to build the same type of program that has gained national attention at Davidson. It took a while for his recruits to learn the system and mesh as a team, but it appears that this season it is all coming together.
I'm intrigued by the fact that the Phoenix don't seem to shoot the ball very well as a team (especially inside the arc) but take exceptionally good care of it. Is anything specific at the root of this dichotomy?
I think this all comes back to the coach preaching ball security. I’ve seen fewer rushed shots and bad passes this year compared to last. It seems though that some games we just have an iron rim and can’t get one to fall. With Lucas Troutman grabbing a lot of the missed shots we are getting the second chance points, but are hurt in games like Duke where we were out-rebounded on both sides of the ball
Can you tell people about the problems the aforementioned Elon big Lucas Troutman has been causing as a junior? He had eight points and 11 boards when these two teams met a year ago but it appears that as his usage has risen his turnover rate has dropped and he's blocking more shots while also grabbing more steals.
Troutman has been a real game-changer this year. I think the intensity he plays with helps drive the rest of the team. He’s one that will fight for the ball and who’s not afraid to take a charge. Again it falls to ball security. Now that this group has been together two seasons, with significant playing time, they are not making the mental mistakes. This is evident in Troutman's play.
The leading scorer in last year's tilt was Drew Spradlin (13 points). He's the only starter the Phoenix lost. Who on the roster have stepped forward to fill his minutes and how have they done?
I would have to say we have had two players step it up. Jack Isenbarger has stepped his game up from beyond the arc, hitting multiple clutch threes to win a game or build our momentum. Troutman on the other hand has stepped up his inside game, getting rebounds and second chance points. There appears to be no “I” on this team and everyone is happy to share the spotlight.
You just brought him up, but I haven't said word one about junior guard Jack Isenbarger, who is second on the team in scoring with 14.5 ppg and has made 37 threes in 13 games. Tell me more about his game below.
Like I said last year, we live and die by the three. It appears that Matheny has given Isenbarger the green light to shoot the three. There have been a few games this year where he couldn’t buy a bucket in the first half, but came out in the second like a storm raining threes. He has had a few game winners one of which at Columbia is shown below.
Fill in the blanks, please. Elon sweeps the home-and-home series with the Tigers if...
The Phoenix will win this game if we don’t have a lid on our three point shots. The only thing that worries me is we tend to get a little sluggish around the holidays. It’s hard to gauge our team’s mindset right now. We played great against Duke for most of the game but ran out of gas near the end, against Columbia we needed a three pointer in the final seconds to take that win and Manchester (A non-DI opponent - JS) is best described as a pickup game at the YMCA. With this being a home game and the students back on campus I look for the Phoenix to win this one.
Princeton exacts a modicum of revenge by winning on the Phoenix's floor if...
Princeton can only get their revenge by locking us in our locker room for the entire game! OK, seriously if Princeton can out-rebound us and prevent our second chance points and put the pressure on Isenbarger behind the arc, they could steal this game. The Princeton game plan needs to be ball protection and preventing Elon runs. While I don’t think it will be a blow out I think Princeton comes up short in this matchup.
I'll be making my first visit to Alumni Gym on Saturday. What can I expect?
It’s winter term at Elon, so the game atmosphere is hard to predict; there are lots of students who take this time to study abroad. With that said, the typical game atmosphere at the nest is hot. It’s a small gym by most standards but recent upgrades have made it far from under par. The fans are packed close to the court and it creates a great game atmosphere. Elon has always created a friendly environment around campus, so if you get there early take the opportunity to walk around.
Please tell people a bit about your message board! Feel free to plug whatever else you like before signing off.
Thanks again, Brian. Everyone is encouraged to check out elonfans.info to discuss the game with Brian and his fellow Elon fans between now and Saturday!