|Hatters Return Home to Host JU on Saturday|
The Stetson basketball teams return to the friendly confines of the Edmunds Center on Saturday for a double-header against in-state and Atlantic Sun Conference rival Jacksonville.
The action-packed afternoon of action will tip off when the red-hot Stetson women hit the floor at 1 p.m. in search of an eighth consecutive victory. The Stetson men will follow at 3:15 with an eye toward improving to 3-2 on the year in A-Sun play.
Both games will be available exclusively through ESPN3.com online. There will be no coverage of either game through the standard Hatter Vision online portal. Paul Crane will handle the call of both games for ESPN with former Stetson coach Dee Romine providing color for the women’s game and former Auburn coach Sonny Smith on color for the men’s game.
Fans can get free tickets for both games by visiting either Boulevard Tire Center locations in DeLand or the Daytona Beach News-Journal office.
The Stetson men split two games in Georgia earlier this week, winning at Kennesaw State before dropping their tilt with Mercer. The Hatters come into action with a 5-9 overall record and are hoping to snap a two-game home losing streak.
Stetson’s last home games came in mid-December and resulted in tough losses to USC Upstate and Charleston Southern. Hatters coach Casey Alexander said he is looking forward to better results from this two-game home-stand.
“It is good to be back home,” Alexander said. “Ordinarily you’d think it means you are going to play better. That is not always true, as we witnessed last time we played at home. We are hoping this one goes better.”
Even though the results over the past four games have not been what the Hatters were hoping for, the team has played much better in terms of protecting the ball. After averaging almost 23 turnovers per game through the first 10 games, the Hatters have cut that number down significantly, having just 13 in three of the last four games.
“We’ve placed a much higher emphasis on turnovers,” Alexander said. “It has always been a concern and we have known from the beginning that it is an important part of us playing well. We have made it more of an emphasis and the guys have responded to that and that has given us a better chance to play well.”
The area that has become more of a concern is getting consistent scoring on the offensive end. Junior center Adam Pegg has averaged 16.5 points per game over the last four, including a career-high 20 at Mercer. Guards Chris Perez and Aaron Graham have not been as consistent, with both having games during that stretch they’d just as soon forget.
“You can look at that two ways,” Alexander said. “Either you are just inconsistent or, you can take it as a positive in that you have several guys who can score. We need Adam Pegg to be a threat for us, game-in and game-out. That is what we have to have. Where the other points come from, I don’t mind.
“I am glad to see Chris play well and I am glad to see Aaron play well. They are both guys who can put points together for us.”
Pegg has been a fairly consistent offensive threat for the Hatters all year, but went through a three-game slump, that included the last two home games, where he struggled.
“He has settled down and is playing a little more under control and within himself,” Alexander said. “He was out of sorts a little bit, but his production has continued to be good and his shooting percentage has been good. We need that for us to be good.”
What the Hatters can’t do is look past a Jacksonville team that comes in riding a 10-game losing streak. The Dolphins are a team that won 20 games last year and advanced to pos-season play, and their 2-12 start this year is very deceptive.
“They have lost 10 in a row, but those were against some high majors and a lot of other good majors on the road,” Alexander said. “You can count on Jacksonville playing really hard and scrambling around. They make it ugly at times, but that is our total expectation.
“We will have to play well to win, but I can say that about every game we have on the schedule going forward.”
A list of the road losses for the Dolphins includes Florida State, Florida, Marquette, Wofford, UAB and Alabama. Alexander said those tough road losses will make JU hungrier when they get to DeLand.
“They are used to winning,” Alexander said. “What they are going through right now, at least in recent years under Cliff Warren, is really unchartered waters. If you read and believe what they say, I believe they are hungry and want to come out of here with a win. We need to expect their best game.”
For Stetson, the game against Jacksonville, and Monday’s tilt with North Florida, are key to the Hatters reaching their goals for the season.
“These games are big – any conference win is big for us,” Alexander said. “I am not ashamed to say that our first goal is to make the conference tournament. If you want to do that, then you have to take care of your business against teams you feel you should beat, especially at home.”