Friday, February 20, 2015

Monmouth 63, Saint Peter's 58: Ray Floriani's Photo Essay

Jersey City, NJ ­- The mercury barely flirted with double-digit temperatures. Not to worry. Well, for forty minutes. Inside the Yanitelli Center, the action was hot. 

Monmouth defeated Saint Peter's 63-58 in one of those MAAC meetings that remind of us of the ‘one and done’ March nights.

It was what both coaches classified it, “a 'grind it out' game.” The eyes of the beholders were backed up by tempo free numbers. A 63-possession game. Given the defensive emphasis of both meetings, this was what you would expect.

The Hawks avenged an earlier overtime loss to Saint Peter's. In the process, they improved their conference record to 12-5, while the Peacocks fell to 7-10. Records and eventual seedings all come into play. In a normally one-bid league like the MAAC, ‘surviving and advancing’ in the tournament is crucial. Naturally, the higher seed and/or favorable matchup is of utmost importance. With under four regular season games remaining, the clock is dangerously close to striking twelve.

The game itself served a reminder. The coaches were in their virtual chess match. Monmouth changing defense, zone, man and clogging the middle; Saint Peter's responding on the perimeter utilizing the three-point shot. But it all came down to execution. The Xs and Os were dutifully organized and given. It was the players, though, not simply assimilating the diagrams on the grease board, but executing. As both coaches agreed, it came down to making plays. Monmouth did, Saint Peter's didn't.

With tournament time on the horizon, one gets the idea we will see many more instances like the one tonight.

Saint Peter's Desi Washington in the defensive stance:
Saint Peter's coach John Dunne makes a point, literally:
Rob Kennedy conducts a halftime interview with Deon Jones of Monmouth:
Monmouth coach King Rice, with assistant Rick Callahan, a coaching veteran, in the background:
Media friend, courtside neighbor, and jack of all trades David Freeman; the "MacGyver" of college basketball, hard at work:
Screening action to free Monmouth's Brice Kofane:
Monmouth breaking a late game huddle at the end of a timeout:

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